XTERRA Ambassador Profile – Tina Weissauer

Meet Tina Weissauer. This almost 40-year old was born and raised in Los Angeles and is now tearing up the local trails alongside the ever loyal and active XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series diehards. She is new to the XTERRA Ambassador team but has been vital to the energy and growth of the series over the past 7 years. Keep reading to see why we find her so inspiring!

Number of Years Racing XTERRA: 7

What kind of trail running shoe will you wear? HOKA, and ALTRA

Sponsor: Fit and Wild

Best XTERRA finish: I would have to say Boney Mountain 2017.  I raced well and the wind was really, really strong. I was the 9th woman and beat the number 10 by one second!  Made me happy, didn’t even know she was coming for me! I was fast that day too, usually I am 11 or 12 overall for the women.

Favorite XTERRA? So hard to choose…Point Mugu for the views, Malibu Creek for the toughness, XTERRA Trail Run Nationals in Ogden, UT for both!

Other big races on your schedule: LA Marathon, this year I will be turning 40 so on my 40th my goal is to run 40 miles.  Then Ray Miller 50k or 50 miles, I can’t decide!

Craziest pre race ritual: I have to eat Indian food. That way, I am sure to poop before I race!

Funniest / dumbest thing you’ve done during a run: Going back to Boney Mountain 6k, my FIRST trail race.  I never ran a trail race before, and had no idea I was the lead woman.  So, I took my time on the creek crossings.  I didn’t want to get my shoes wet, HA!  How things have changed.  The last half-mile is a flat road that turns into a dirt tree trail.  This is where I got passed.  Again, not knowing I was first, true to trail runner spirit, I offered words of encouragement as I got passed.  Something along the line of, “great job! Way to finish strong!”  She looked at me funny, and kept on running looking over her shoulder every 5 steps.  She was first woman overall and I followed happily behind and took 2nd.  The funniest/dumbest thing I have ever done at a trail race.  I easily could have dug deep and pushed past her had I know I was holding first woman OVERALL!!!  Every race I think of that moment and push hard and dig deep the whole race.

Favorite distance: half marathon

Guilty pleasure post race: (food / drinks / other / etc.)Post race is burritos and beer for me!

What makes you a true Trail Run Fanatic? I really don’t care rain or shine, I just love being on the trails, enjoying the outdoors and forgetting that I live in a big city! Running is what sets my mind free.  When it rains, the trails are one of my favorite places to be.  Living in LA when it rains, most people go inside and hide so I have to trails to myself!

Most memorable running moment and/or XTERRA moment:  Running XTERRA Trail Run Nationals.  It was something that I had worked really, really hard to earn.  Traveling to Ogden, Utah was the first time I had left my family behind, and heading to Nationals was a dream come true.  The race didn’t go as planned, in fact, it was one of my slowest half marathons ever.  The thin mountain air really got the best of me.  The fact that I was moving so slow didn’t get me down though.  The views were some of the best.  I was at XTERRA Nationals!!! Years of racing and I was the regional champion from SoCal!  I was truly living a dream.  All the runners were nice and offered up their knowledge of the course.  I can’t wait to go back to Ogden with better altitude training so that I can fly over some of the best single track I have ever seen!

Who is your favorite XTERRA runner (pro and age grouper)? Maggie Shearer.  When she shows up I know I am gonna be lucky to get 3rd place for my age group.  She is ALWAYS the first woman! In addition to being fast, she is super tough.  At Boney Mountain maybe 3 years ago, she fell, broke her fingers and was still the first lady.  And the best part about her is she is also one of the nicest people on the trail.  Pro is Conrad Stoltz.  He is the beast of all beasts, and is such a humble athlete.

Do you have a personal mantra, motto or words to live by?

Breath in your courage, let go of your fear.

She made broken look beautiful

and strong look invincible.

She walked with the Universe

on her shoulders and made it

look like a pair of wings.




be ashamed

of a scar. It

simply means

you were

stronger than

whatever tried

to hurt you.”



What is your day job? Master eco colorist.  AKA hairdresser! I co-own a small boutique salon in Venice, where we focus on the having the most eco friendly products and colorline available.

What do you want people to know about XTERRA? XTERRA, has some of the best trail races out there.  The courses they provide are difficult, the climbs are painful, the views are epic but it is the people are what make XTERRA great!  The staff and volunteers at the events are super nice and helpful.  It is always fun to see familiar faces at the aid stations cheering everyone on! Then there are the other trail racers, some of the nicest people around.  Offering insight to the course, helping you up when you fall, and the great post race conversations in the beer garden!!

Tell us something we should know about you:  I have never run “JUST” a marathon before!  I have finished 3 Ironmans, and two 50k’s, but not a marathon on it’s own.  In March I will be 40, and I am about to change that and run LA marathon.  Part of me is excited to run my hometown race, but the other part of me thinks it is a silly idea.  I have missed the trails so much training for LA, and I am looking at it as a bucket list run.  Then if things go as planned I am going to run 40 miles for my 40! This of course will be on the trails!

Open forum (say what you like):  For me my life is totally normal!  However most people around me, are in awe on how I fit it all in daily!  On a good day, I wake up at 5am to enjoy some time for myself before the wild animals that I call my family wake up.  In the summer months this is when I run, in the winter this is when I read and drink tea.  I have 2 beautiful children that keep me on my toes at all times. They are active, so after school is running them around to their different actives. I have a crazy number of pets that we have rescued over the years that require food and exercise on the daily.  I run and found that 50 miles a week is a sweet spot for me. I also run my behind-the-chair business and run a salon.  I am blessed that I am married to my best friend, who shares my vivaciousness for life.  The adventures we take are amazing!

Thank you for sharing your story Tina!


XTERRA Texas, SoCal & SA Trail Races This Weekend

The 2017 XTERRA Trail Run Series is underway with races across the country, and around the world for that matter, every weekend.

This Saturday the XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series hosts 10 and 25K races at Pedernales Falls State Park, located 40 miles west of Austin.

“It’s quintessential Texas Hill Country with rocks, dips, drop, ledges, twists and turns,” said race director Joel Grimmett. “Runners will encounter plenty of natural obstacles and they wind through the rugged, heavily-wooded canyons, down rolling double track, and along the rocky banks of the Pedernales River.”

It’s the second of nine XTERRA trail races in Texas held from now until August.

Then on Sunday, the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series heads to Point Mugu State Park in Malibu/Oxnard, CA with 11 and 18-kilometer races.

XTERRA Pt. Mugu is the fifth of seven races in the SoCal Series, and runners looking to make a permanent mark will have to run faster than course record holders Anthony Fagundes (1:06:12) and Maggie Searer (1:18:40) in the 18K.

Runners in all of XTERRA’s Trail Run Series are racing for points towards their regional championship and the complimentary entry into XTERRA Nationals that goes with it.   The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship will be held September 17th at Snowbasin Resort up the hill from Ogden, Utah.

And, for those lucky enough to find themselves in South Africa this weekend, 6 and 12K races will be held at the Grabouw Country club on Sunday.

Find a trail run in your area here.

Live More!

Meet Margo Pitts

It’s not just inspirational gibberish when Coach Pitts, the leader of the Duke University Triathlon Club, tells her kids the most important thing about being knocked down, is getting back up again.

“My most memorable moment from last year’s Pan Am Championship race was a running downhill face plant at around mile two,” said Pitts. “And the men behind me starting jumping over me to pass!”

Unfazed, Pitts got back up and finished the race with the fastest run split in her division to take home the 50-54 age group Pan Am and USA Championship crowns.

“My favorite quote is from the Count of Monte Cristo, when he says ‘Life is a storm. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout, Do your worst, for I will do mine.”

And, indeed she has. Pitts started riding mountain bikes seven years ago, did her first XTERRA in 2010, and has been shouting into the storm ever since.

The reigning and two-time XTERRA Southeast Regional Champion out of Raleigh, North Carolina, is the owner and founder of B3 Triathlon coaching, says she loves sustained climbing, and not surprisingly, lists Mr. XTERRA Marcus Barton as her favorite XTERRA racer.

“Marcus is so passionate about XTERRA and he shares his love with others,” she said. “He makes me want to be a better person and a stronger athlete.”

Marcus says the same thing about Margo.

“I’ve had the opportunity to race and train with her and can tell you she’s a blast to be around and always has an upbeat, fun-loving aura,” said Barton. “She’s a pretty dedicated coach as well. On one occasion, we rode our mountain bikes all over the Ironman Raleigh course cheering on our friends and her athletes. We put in a ton of miles that day just scooting from point to point across the course. We’ve gone to races, pre-ridden race courses, hill repeats in the mountains of North Carolina, you name it. She’s even a part of our Rabid Muffin Monkeys mountain bike team. No matter where we are or what we are doing, she’s always a blast and makes friends everywhere she goes with her outgoing personality. But… don’t let that smile fool ya, she’s a fierce competitor. She trains very hard and races even harder.”

Marcus added that Margo also has an addiction to mountain bikes and “looooooooves country music!”

This year Pitts has pegged a pair of summertime races, XTERRA Beaver Creek and XTERRA Aspen, as two races she’s really looking forward to, adding that “Aspen is an EPIC race, be sure to sign up if you haven’t experienced it.”

Unless, of course, you’re in the women’s 50-54 division and have plans on winning it!

As for some free motivational advice, Pitts shared how she chants mantras to herself during races.

“They are different for every race and always written on my forearm race morning. It’s what motivates and drives me to finish strong.”

When asked how she would describe XTERRA racing, Pitts replied … “XTERRA is Badass”

Takes one to know one.

XTERRA Partners with PRS Fit on Couch to Trail Training Series

(HONOLULU) – TEAM Unlimited LLC, owner and producer of the XTERRA World Tour, today announced an alliance with PRS Fit to produce XTERRA Couch to Trail training programs.

“Jeffrey Kline, SheriAnne Little, and XTERRA age group world champion Mimi Stockton of PRS Fit have a wealth of experience as both racers and coaches, and we think they’ll do a great job introducing our sport to newcomers around the world,” said Dave Nicholas, XTERRA’s managing director.

In addition to building custom training programs designed for first-timers, the team at PRS Fit will share free, bi-monthly training tips with the XTERRA Tribe focusing on everything from swim safety to one-minute video tips designed just for XTERRA athletes.

“We are proud to be partnering with XTERRA on the Couch to XTERRA training series,” said Little, the head coach at PRS Fit. “XTERRA triathlon and off-road racing is taking off globally, and it’s exciting to be able share our experience and be part of this tremendous growth.”

The XTERRA Couch to Trail tips will rotate with the Middaugh Coaching Corner column, presented by Suunto, providing great training and racing information for both novice, intermediate, and elite competitors every week.  And, just like the Middaugh brothers – Josiah and Yaro – PRS Fit will offer one-on-one online XTERRA coaching services and in-person XTERRA Camps.

“Thrilled to be an official XTERRA coach, and looking forward to a long-term relationship with the Tribe,” said Kline, who has been coaching runners and triathletes for 20 years.

PRS Fit will host its XTERRA training plans on the DailyFitBook.com, offering athletes a place to receive, log, and share their workouts through various social media channels.   They will also work with Suunto to educate XTERRA athletes about their GPS watches and the mapping, training, and community features available at Movescount.com.

“XTERRA has allowed me to push myself to new limits and experience mud, sweat and LOTS of tears,” said Stockton, a 44-year-old mother of three from Michigan who won her 4th XTERRA World Title in Maui last October. “It has taken me to some of the most beautiful places in the world and I’m having so much fun. I want to share this sport with everybody, and perpetuate XTERRA’s Live More lifestyle.”

Learn more and get your XTERRA training jump started at www.xterraplanet.com/training

About PRS Fit

PRS FIT is a community of athletes from all over the world. We are a team. Alone or together, from beginner 5k to Boston Marathon and 100 Miler, XTERRA racing to Kona qualifier, we strive and we conquer. PRS FIT lets you experience what we call Team and social fitness – connecting and motivating each through our one of a kind global team experience. No matter the weather, the circumstance, day after day, we provide a high-quality training experience that produces results. Learn more at http://www.prsfit.com


TEAM Unlimited LLC, founded in 1988, is the Hawaii-based television, events, and marketing company that brought off-road triathlon and trail running to the world under the brand name XTERRA. From a one-off race held on the most remote island chain in the world XTERRA evolved into an endurance sports lifestyle with worldwide appeal. Over the past 20 years XTERRA transcended its status as ‘just a race’ to become a bona-fide way of life for thousands of intrepid athletes as well as an emerging brand in the outdoor industry. In 2017 XTERRA will offer more than 200 off-road triathlons and trail running events in 35+ countries worldwide and produce 10 adventure television shows for international distribution. Learn more at xterraplanet.com and xterracontent.com.

A Professor and A Caveman

Nicolas “The Professor” Lebrun, the 2005 XTERRA World Champion who now serves as the director of the XTERRA European Tour, recently took on his former nemesis, 4x XTERRA World Champion Conrad “The Caveman” Stoltz, in a battle for the ages.

Watch the video

After the race, Nico caught up with Conrad to “talk story” and shares his chat with the champ here…

Nico:  We started XTERRA at the same time, in the same race at the XTERRA East Championship in Richmond, Virginia.  You got second and I got third, and for both of us it was the start of something big.  Did you realize that right away, this summer day in June 2001?

Conrad: I had no idea XTERRA would become a new life for me. At the time, I was trying to get my motivation back after the four-year build up to the 2000 Olympics. In Richmond, and all the other XTERRA’s that year, I was just living in the moment and enjoying the cool “new” sport I stumbled upon.

Nico: Do you remember our first year, we shared the house in Lake Tahoe with Anke Erlank and Yu Yumoto?  You were eating only potatoes and garlic, do you remember, why?

Conrad: During those years, I tried to eat eight medium sized potatoes a day because it worked! I was following a diet which was revolutionary at the time, but now we all know it as something like the Caveman diet …  worked fantastically well!

Nico: I think the first years you tried to spend as little money as possible, sleeping on floors and with home stays, so you could bring more money back to your parent’s farm. Is that truth or legend?

Conrad: Truth for sure. It took me 10 years of being a poor professional triathlete before I won a world title and was able to get good sponsorship.  So, sleeping on train stations and airport floors, traveling everywhere with half a kilo of mashed potatoes and a few cans of sardines was a normal part of life, and suddenly having money in the bank didn’t change my lifestyle much. Its not until I got married to Liezel that I started traveling somewhat like a “normal” person.

Nico: You won so many races, did Olympics twice, world champ ITU, XTERRA… is there a race or a performance that you wanted but never got?

Conrad: When I won my first XTERRA World title, I put my heart on winning five XTERRA World titles. At first it seemed quite achievable, but despite trying my best for 14 years, I came up short with “only” four. The original Worlds course in Hawaii was covered in sharp lava rock and kiawe thorns which caused mayhem with tyres, and the new course in Kapalua had just too much climbing and humidity (my two big weaknesses) to win another title.

Nico: Your best and worst racing memories?

Conrad:  My best memories are of the 2000 Olympics and 2010 XTERRA Worlds.  My worst are from losing a few XTERRA World titles due to flat tyres and equipment failures, and also when I broke my back and wrist and lost most of my sponsors in 2007.

Nico: Specialized, a long story from October 2001 to now, you were a racer but more than that, did you help build up or test the first 29er?

Conrad: Only 10 years ago, 29ers were viewed as “clown bikes” but the first time I rode one I fell in love with the way it made me feel invincible as it bashed and rolled over rough terrain.  Those bikes were quite rudimentary and were not made for racing – I think the first Specialized Stumpjumper 29er weighed about 13.5kg. I asked the engineers if we could turn it into an XC racing bike. The one engineer said, “Why would you want to race on a clown bike?” Fortunately, we forged ahead and created the first real, full carbon, racing 29er with which I won the 2010 XTERRA Worlds by six minutes. One of my best memories.

Nico: Now, your beautiful daughter Zena, the Caveman café, and Trail building is what Conrad’s life is all about.  Can you tell me more about what you are up to these days?

Conrad: Our little family is really booming at the moment! Zena is 21 months old and is very, very energetic, curious and adventurous. She really keeps us on our toes! Also, we’re expecting a boy in June, which we’re very excited about!

After a lifetime of being an athlete, it has been quite an adjustment – doing sport for no other reason than enjoyment.  Training for fun comes after family, trail building, and Caveman Café, so at the moment I don’t get to train much.

I found a new passion in life and started a company STOLTZ Trails. I really enjoy trail building – its outside in nature, I’m my own boss and its very creative- almost like sculpture. Being a “Trail snob,” I’d like to think I build trails that will be fun to ride, showcase the owners’ property and are harmonious with the surrounding nature. And for some reason I also really enjoy manual labor.  (If digging a 25m swimming pool by hand rings a bell…)

Nico: XTERRA in South Africa, it is huge, do you know why?

Conrad: Great events across the country, XTERRA is on TV all the time, we have some great courses, and I’d like to think a few South Africans left a footprint on global XTERRA- Anke Erlank, Dan Hugo and myself.  For now…

Nico:  You came to France last year for the Alps Epic with Yannick, XTERRA La Reunion Organizer. Do you think if we push, we can get Conrad back in an XTERRA in Europe one day?

Conrad:  Oh, you don’t have to push. I’d love to participate in cool events just for fun and without worrying about the result.

Nico: And forget the video, we all know who is the best 😉

Conrad:  Yes, especially if it was the Vertical 1km…

Watch the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51djMIa_66k

Stars Come Out for XTERRA Season Opener in South Africa

This weekend’s FedHealth XTERRA South Africa Championship, the first of 41 events in 33 countries on the XWC qualifying series schedule, will host some 3,500 racers at the Grabouw Country Club in the Western Cape including Olympians Richard Murray and Flora Duffy.

Follow all the action from the championship race starting at 8am (Cape Town time) Saturday on Facebook.com/XTERRASouthAfrica, and on twitter @xterrasa.

“We are proud to host South Africa’s premier off-road triathlon and the world’s largest XTERRA,” says Michael Meyer, Managing Director of Stillwater Sports. “Grabouw is known for its beauty and the challenge that it pits athletes against. We are excited to welcome both local and international athletes to the South African Championship and look forward to witnessing XTERRA racing of the highest level.”

Elites in the men’s race include home country heroes Bradley Weiss, the reigning XTERRA SA and Philippines Champion; Richard Murray, who finished 4th at last summer’s Olympic triathlon event in Rio; Stuart Marais – the 2015 SA Champ; and Theo Blignaut. Three of the top 10 men in last year’s XTERRA European Tour are also on the start list including Kris Coddens, an XTERRA champion from Belgium; Brice Daubord from France, and Jan Pyott of Switzerland.

“The field is always deep, providing great competition and a very close and exciting race,” said Weiss. “Richard Murray has been one of SA’s best triathletes for the past few years. I believe he will bring the biggest challenge as well as Stuart Marais who won the title in 2015.”

>For Murray, XTERRA provides an opportunity to mix up his arduous triathlon training and racing routine.

“I am looking for some change this season,” he said. “XTERRA Grabouw is only a one-hour drive from my home and the ambiance is great. I enjoy the mountain bike discipline the most, particularly the challenging rock garden. Even the run is great, and has everything one could expect from a good course including trails, hills and a water crossing. I will race in Abu Dhabi the weekend after Grabouw, so my goal is to race within myself. I would love both a podium finish and to qualify for the World Championship in Maui.”

The last time Murray raced in Maui, he finished 12th on the day (in 2013), and said … “I definitely underestimated the XTERRA World Championship that year. This year, I want to win it.”

Marais, who missed last year’s race in Grabouw due to illness, said he is looking forward to some hard off-road racing.

“With XTERRA Grabouw attracting the cream of SA triathlon, there are a number of athletes who will be able to challenge for the overall win. The number of international athletes entered is testimony to the quality of the event that is hosted by Stillwater Sports. It’s great to have strong competition. Hopefully I will be up to the challenge,” said Marais.

In the women’s race, reigning and three-time Olympian, XTERRA SA and World Champion Flora Duffy is looking to make it four-in-a-row at her home away from home.

“This is my favourite XTERRA on the circuit,” says Duffy, who lives in South Africa half of the year. “The bike discipline offers everything you would want- climbing, twisty single track, rock gardens and beautiful views. The run is also really cool. At the highest point of the route you can see the entire race village and the surrounding mountains. It’s quite breath-taking. My favourite part of the run is the final kilometre along the beach. This section literally looks like a gritty, white sandy beach. The contrast between the water, beach and mountains is really cool.”

Other elite women hoping to throw a spanner in the works include Carina Wasle (Austria), Rachel Klamer (Netherlands), and Sandra Koblmueller (Austria).

“I’ve been racing it for many years and always love to come back to South Africa for the season opener,” said Wasle, a 13-year veteran who won XTERRA SA in 2009 and 2011. “The swim in the Coca-Cola coloured water of the Eikenhof Dam is really special, while the bike course with all the single trails is amazing and great fun. It reminds me why I love this sport so much.”

In addition to the main event XTERRA South Africa hosts a kids tri, sprint tri, and trail runs that accommodate thousands of racers over the three days in Grabouw. This is the 14th year for XTERRA in South Africa, but even for seasoned veterans it will look like a brand new venue this time.

“Due to recent fires and harvesting, the landscape has changed dramatically,” said the race director Hendrico Burger. “Large parts of the A – Z trails were either rebuilt or rerouted, however, all the iconic landmarks are still there. It’s a combination of elements that makes this route tough including the elite athlete factor, the varied terrain, the sprint to the first single track, and the weather.”

The fastest age groupers in the championship race earn qualifying spots into the ITU and XTERRA World Championship races while elites race for their share of the 154,000 rand prize purse.

For further information visit www.stillwatersports.com or follow along on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/XTERRASouthAfrica.


Year     Men                                                                Women

2004     Conrad Stoltz                                               Megan Hall

2005     Conrad Stoltz                                               Mari Rabie

2006     Conrad Stoltz                                               Michelle Lombardi

2007     Conrad Stoltz                                               Michelle Lombardi

2008     Dan Hugo                                                      Eszter Erdelyi

2009     Lieuwe Boonstra/Felix Schumann      Carina Wasle

2010     Dan Hugo                                                      Mari Rabie

2011     Dan Hugo                                                      Carina Wasle

2012     Conrad Stoltz                                               Carla Van Huyssteen

2013     Richard Murray                                          Carla Van Huyssteen

2014     Dan Hugo                                                      Flora Duffy

2015     Stuart Marais                                              Flora Duffy

2016     Bradley Weiss                                             Flora Duffy

XTERRA Couch to Trail – The Gear You’ll Need

XTERRA consists of swim, bike, and run so you’ll need …

For the swim you’ll want a set of goggles that stick to your face.  You want it to fit similar to a dive mask where the goggle cups can stick for a few seconds without even using the strap.  There are many types and shapes of goggles so take some time to try them on and select a pair that fits your face shape.  Note that many goggles also come with interchangeable nose pieces that allow you to change the distance between the lenses and get your ideal fit.  I like to keep a training pair and a nice pair for races.  Think about when and where you will be training and racing when deciding on tint color.  In the pool I prefer a clear goggle.  For ocean swims here in Hawaii I often wear a tinted goggle that cuts the glare of the sun.  If the water is not very clear, you will want a low or no tint goggle.  If you want more coverage in a goggle, check out Aqua Sphere.  During the race you will need to wear a swim cap for safety so be sure to practice with one.  The cap increases your visibility, helps to retain heat, and keeps the goggles on your head and out of your hair.  Many races also have different cap colors to separate divisions and heats.

Depending on the water temperature where you are racing and training you may or may not need a wetsuit.  If you need to race in a wetsuit, check out XTERRA Wetsuit rental options in your area and at the race and do some training in the wetsuit.  XTERRA has some great wetsuits and speed suits.  They seem to take the most abuse and still perform.   Try on different wetsuits so you can make a good decision on size and type needed.  Most wetsuits are full body, sleeveless (farmer john), long legged, or “shorty” (short sleeves and legs).  Consider the water temperature, comfort, range of motion, and need when deciding on a wetsuit.  Make sure to read the instructions and care for your wetsuit properly.  If your race and climate does not require a wetsuit, you will want to wear a triathlon suit, and perhaps a speed suit, that reduces drag in the water.  The xterrawetsuits.com website is also a great resource for more info.

XTERRA is off-road so the next piece of gear you will need is a mountain bike.  Get to know your local bike shop and talk to them about your goals, budget, and what type of races that you will be competing in.  Most bike shops offer rental bikes, maintenance classes, new, and used bikes.  Use this amazing resource and support them!  These are the guys who will be maintaining your bike and keeping you alive.  They will help you get the right fit, the right bike, and point you to where trails and rides are going on.  You get what you pay for, so try to spend as much money as you can comfortably afford to invest.

Bikes come in male and female specific and most range in size from XS-XL or are sized by seat tube height in inches.  The seat tube height is the distance from the center of the bottom bracket (where your crank arms connect to the frame) to the top of the seat tube (where the seat post enters the frame).  Work with the bike shop so they can tell you what size bikes you should demo and whether male or female sizing is best for you. Ladies, I have been racing mountain bikes for over 10 years and have only ridden unisex bikes with no problem so look at your arm and leg length to see which is a better fit.  Women’s specific bikes often have a shorter top tube, narrower handlebars, shorter stems (what connects the handlebar to the bike), shorter cranks (the part connected to the pedals), wider saddles, smaller diameter grips, shorter reach on the brake levers, adjusted fork and shock for the lighter weight rider, and feminine color choices.  Another aspect of sizing is wheel size.  Mountain bikes come in 26, 27.5 and 29 inch wheels.  Mountain bikes started as 26-inch wheel bikes, then jumped to 29 and then some liked them in between with the 27.5.  Bigger wheels roll over terrain easier.  A 29-inch wheel rolls about 6% easier than a 26-inch wheel.  Other advantages of a 29-inch wheel are that you can pedal at the same speed with less effort, you are more stable, and it gives a hardtail some of the advantages of suspension without the additional cost.  Disadvantages would be that they are bigger (10% bigger) and if you are racing a lot of tight corners some find them harder to maneuver.  If you get a 29er, be sure to have a nice light wheel set.  I have raced 26 inch and 29 inch wheels and LOVE the 29er.  I am 5’5” and have no issue maneuvering the beast and love the added “forgiveness” the 29er gives me over terrain when I am tired and my skills are lacking.  For you roadies, remember that a 26-inch wheel is a 650cc wheel and a 29er is a 700cc wheel.  Which do you prefer to ride on your road and triathlon bike?

XTERRA is a cross country race so a cross country (XC) type mountain bike will likely be your best choice.  Cross country bikes come in hardtail and full-suspension.  A hardtail has a front shock and a hard back with no suspension where full suspension bike has a shock on the front and the back.  Suspension on the bike soothes the ride, improves control, aids with braking, and absorbs impact.  Talk to your shop to see what best suits your training and racing area and discuss any medical conditions that you may have.  If you are strapped on cash, a hardtail will likely be less expensive and just as effective at helping you finish your race but if you have a bad back you may need the full suspension.  Whatever suspension you choose, be sure to set it up correctly based on your weight and riding style.  Most riders, like 99%, don’t have their suspension set up correctly so be sure to talk with the shop about how to set up and maintain your suspension.  If you purchase a used bike, search and find set up instructions online.  Most shops sell pumps that will work on most shops.  Manufacturers also restore and reseal shocks.  When folks talk about travel they are talking about the amount that your fork or shock can compress.  Increasing travel slackens the geometry giving you a softer ride.  For XTERRA conditions you want to dial your fork lower so you can have more precise climbing and technical riding. If you have the travel too loose you will lose energy and bounce up the hill as all your work is being lost in the travel.

Now that you have your bike be sure to invest in some tools to help you ride it safely.  Take a maintenance class.  At a minimum you need to have a multi-tool to adjust it, a spare tire kit, a bike pump, chain lube, pedals, and some shoes.  You will maximize your pedal stroke with pedals and clip in shoes.  There are lots of options when it comes to shoes and pedals.  In the beginning it may be smart to get a pedal with more platform.  Get used to your bike without clipping in.  Once you gain confidence on how to move and shift the bike, practice the clip ins by riding in a soft grassy field.  Practice turns, getting clipped and unclipped, and stopping and getting off your bike.  Don’t get discouraged when you fall.  We have all been there.  Part of mountain biking is learning how to fall correctly.  The main injury can be the “endo” where you fly over the handlebars on your shoulder or head. Avoid this by always getting back on your seat when descending steep terrain. Also being cautious with your braking, too much front brake can send you over the handlebars. Feathering both brakes will allow smoother slowing and control. You also want to work on getting your legs out to minimize injury.  Find a friend who has been riding for a while and ask them for some help.  Your local bike shop or club may also have some tips and training available.  Since you will be hopping off and on the bike in off-road triathlon you will want shoes with some tread.  Most racers use cleated shoes.  Almost like a football or soccer cleat with a clip in adapter for your pedal.  Find a pair that will stay comfortably on your feet with a sturdy sole for good power transfer to the pedal.  I also like to find a shoe with good ventilation and something that appears easy to clean.  Mountain bikers get dirty!

Another piece of gear good for mountain biking is a hydration pack.  When you are riding it is hard to reach for a bottle, especially when you are beginning.  Choose a pack that has some room for your tools, treats and a bladder that supports your race distance.  Some hydration packs strap around your waist and others across your back.  I really like the vest type.  I get a hydration pack in the back and pockets in the front for the food I will need to eat along the way.  Try on different backs at your local bike, run, and triathlon shops.  Choose a pack with a removable bladder and replacement pieces so you can keep it clean from mold & mildew.  I like to only put water in my hydration pack and use bottles for other calorie options.  You have to carry this thing and water is heavy.  1 liter of water weighs 1000 grams or 2.2 pounds.  Once you get really good on the bike you can try riding with bottles and choose what best suits you for racing and training.  Now that I have become a better rider, I can use either.  If I am racing at an event like the Leadville 100 where the temperature keeps changing and I need to breathe, sweat, and make costume changes, I prefer bottles.  At something like XTERRA where I barely have time to recover going down the hill before going up another, I like my hydration pack.

Now that you have shoes, a tool, and a pack, get a helmet.  Never ride without a helmet.  Most races will disqualify you if you are riding without a helmet, even from your car to transition.  Protect your melon!  Go for comfort and cooling.  Remember to treat your helmet with care.  Once it is cracked or tossed or part of a crash, it needs to be replaced.  Keep it strapped.  If it is unstrapped, it can’t do its job. A helmet with a sun shield is nice for hot sunny days.

Now it is time for the run!  Since you are racing on trails you will want to think about terrain.  Is it loose, hard packed, covered in roots, usually muddy, etc.  Just like you need to pick tires on your bike to match the terrain, you want to think about the tread on your shoes.  Different shoes are good in different conditions so ask around and check the area that you will be racing in.  You may also need to train in a certain type of shoe and race in another.  Most of the professional and seasoned XTERRA racers train in trail shoes and race in racing flats but some prefer trail shoes all the time.  I personally keep a training pair of shoes and a racing pair of shoes.  I use my racing flat for track work and also on at least one long run before the race.  The rest of my training is done in a road shoe or road runs and a trail shoe for challenging trail runs.  Train like you are going to race.  If you want to wear socks on race day, wear socks to train.  If you want to race without socks, train without socks.  Race day is not the time to try anything new. No new shoes, no new nutrition, no new anything.  Train and race with what works.  Also practice running off the bike by doing transition runs for 10-20 minutes immediately off the bike.  You may find that the lighter racing flats help you transition better or you may find you need more support as your legs are wobbling!  Since XTERRA is on the trail you need to be able to see.  You may find that on the trail you need a lighter or even clear lenses for your glasses.  You also want to consider wearing hats and visors backwards.  The rim will restrict your view and you may not see a tree or other obstacle.

Other great gear to have is a triathlon bag to hold all of your racing and training gear, a race belt, and a triathlon suit.  The backpack can be any bag that you keep all your stuff in.  Please make a bag.  I keep multiple pairs of goggles and caps in my bag.  I have never gone to a race where another racers has not needed my spare pair.  Save your friends!  I also pack a small towel and old bath mat to use in transition to place my gear on and clean my feet.  I also keep an empty water bottle in my bag.  I have forgotten my hydration back before and had the water bottle save me.  Next I make sure I have my bike and running shoes.  A race belt is a belt that your race number snaps on to.  I like to use a belt with a pocket and keep a gel pack and some salt tablets so I am ready for anything.  You also need to think about lubrication for yourself.  Blister shield in your shoes, body glide or coconut oil on all your chafing spots, and sunscreen can really make race day more pleasant!


Weiss, Leicester win XTERRA Nelson Mandela Bay

Bradley Weiss and Johandri Leicester dominated the field at the Fedhealth XTERRA Nelson Mandela Bay in the city of Port Elizabeth in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province on Saturday.

Staging his comeback from injury, Weiss proved to be in a league of his own completing the 1.5km ocean swim, 28km MTB discipline and 12km trail run in a combined time 2:00:02.

“I wasn’t sure if I’d make the start today. My doctor actually advised me not to race, but I wasn’t going to stay away any longer,” says an adamant Weiss. “I felt amazing today. It seems that the long rest period did me good. The XTERRA Nelson Mandela Bay course is becoming one of my favourite courses.   It features a lot of single track and is pure mountain biking. Racing against Stuart today was really special, while having Conrad Stoltz out in the field was also pretty cool. Today was a good test before XTERRA Grabouw. It was nice to get the feeling of racing again.”

According to Marais, who came second on the day, Bradley Weiss was driving the pace on the mountain bike discipline. “The swim was hard. Brad and I exited the water together behind Keegan Cooke and Theo Blignaut. We jumped onto the bikes at the same time, but I lost Brad’s wheel at a river crossing.  I decided to ride smoothly instead of fast. From there Brad lead for the rest of the race. XTERRA Nelson Mandela Bay’s ocean swim is fantastic. The mountain bike course is technical, a real cross country style course. The run is cool. It’s fast, there are climbs and sand. Next up is the Fedhealth XTERRA Grabouw, it’s the grail of XTERRAs. I feel good. Anything can happen at this event.” Theo Blignaut rounded off the podium on the day.

Johandri Leicester’s finishing time of 2:38:20 secured her the top spot on the podium in the women’s race. “Today was tough,” says Leicester. “I misjudged the swim, but managed to catch a wave on my way out. I completed the mountain bike discipline slower than in 2016, but there was more sand this year so that is understandable. I just took it easy. Overall I had a good race. I really like the ocean swim and technical mountain biking.” Alexia Loizou came in second, while Tracey Campbell finished third.

Next up is the XTERRA South Africa Championship in Grabouw next Saturday, February 25.

Read Brad’s blog post about the event here.

Learn more at www.stillwatersports.com

Middaugh Coaching Corner – Steady State Interval Training

Presented by Suunto

People want simple answers to complex questions.  Athletes are people.  Athletes want simple answers to complex questions.  The last thing you want to hear is “it depends.”  Either you believe in high volume or high intensity.  More is less or less is more?  Actually, it turns out that more is more and less is less.  Let’s not make it more complicated than it already is.  A sure turnoff is to be told one’s ideal training load is a combination of proper volume and intensity, rest and recovery, undulated and periodized over time, determined by training history, current fitness level, and total life stress, and individual to one’s unique physiology.  Deep breath, let’s start over.

Before my triathlon career I was a mediocre collegiate distance runner.  I noticed I really struggled with a certain type of workout called tempo workouts. I could hang on the long runs and the shorter intervals, but the long intervals were tough.  My VO2 max was high enough to get through the 2-5 minute intervals, and my basic endurance could carry me through a Sunday 15-miler, but set me up with 4 x 2 miles at 10k pace and I couldn’t fake it.  The truth is, I was probably just under-trained.

A staple workout type in my own training and that of our athletes has been Steady-State Interval Training.  When we talk about steady-state intervals, the scientific term we are referring to is “Maximal Lactate Steady State” (MLSS).  Technically it is the highest steady intensity at which blood lactate concentration varies by less than 1 mmol/L during the final 20 minutes of constant workload.  Based on “research,” well-trained endurance athletes can maintain this intensity for about 40-60 minutes.  For an elite runner that might be close to half marathon pace, but for most of us closer to 10k race pace.  For a cyclist, it will be very close to a 40km time trial, or very close to your threshold power.

I think this type of training is challenging and it requires the most focus and discipline, because it is so tempting to back off or quit.  It isn’t interesting, glamourous, or creative.  It’s all about repeatability.  Remember that variety is for the weak-minded (wink wink).  Typically, the intervals are long (8-20 minutes), and the rest is 50% or less of the interval time.  A simple workout to start with might be 3 x 10 minutes with 5-minute active recovery between.  Start with around 30 minutes of total time at MLSS and progress to 40+ minutes depending on your goals and training history.  For running, I would rarely go over 40 min at MLSS, but cycling I will occasionally push it closer to 60 minutes with something like 5 x 12 minutes.  The goal is to maintain the same intensity throughout each effort and from your first to last bout.

A study published in 2004 (Billat, Sirvent, Lepretre, Kortalsztein) studied the effect of 6 weeks of steady-state training.  The subjects of the study were well-trained, veteran distance runners and on average, they initially could run at 7:00 min/mile pace for 44 minutes. After six weeks of training and 12 steady-state exercise sessions, they could run 6:23 min/mile pace for 63 minutes (average).  They not only increased time to exhaustion by 50%, but their speed increased significantly.  Statistically it was a small change in velocity, but for a runner the difference in pace equates to about 4 minutes faster for a 10k and over 8.5 minutes faster for a half marathon!  If only time to exhaustion had increased then I would be more skeptical of the fitness benefit for events under one hour, but the fact that speed at MLSS increased significantly indicates that there would be performance benefits for all common triathlon distances.

Suunto Movescount Example:  CompuTrainer 4 x 9 minutes at 95% FTP, 3 min active recovery

Most lab testing for Maximal Lactate Steady State takes multiple days of testing to properly determine, but a good estimate can be determined by simple field tests found here.


Be a little conservative because field testing can slightly over-estimate MLSS, so use about 95% of your functional threshold speed or power.  Also, don’t call in your testing numbers with your 10k PR from 15 years ago on that point-to-point downhill course of questionable length.  Do a field test and get some honest current numbers to work with.  Once you have your field testing results, plug them into the calculator here:



Now get out there and train!


Billat, V., Sirvent, P., Lepretetre, P., & Koralsztein, J. (2004). Pflügers Archiv – European Journal of Physiology. Training effect on performance, substrate balance and blood lactate concentration at maximal lactate steady state in master endurance-runners, (447), 875-883. doi:10.1007/s00424-003-1215-8

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA Pan America Champion and 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for a decade. Learn more about their coaching programs at www.middaughcoaching.com.

About Suunto

Suunto was born in 1936 when Finnish orienteer and engineer Tuomas Vohlonen invented the mass production method for the liquid-filled compass. Since then, Suunto has been at the forefront of design and innovation for sports watches, dive computers and sports instruments used by adventurers all over the globe. From the highest mountains to the deepest oceans, Suunto physically and mentally equips outdoor adventurers to conquer new territory.

Learn more at www.suunto.com.

More Middaugh Coaching Corner Articles