Rivalry Heats Up XTERRA Atlantic Series

Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe. Mary Decker and Zola Budd. Lasse Viren and Steve Prefontaine. 

For decades, distance running has had its share of rivalries. But none have been as fun to watch as the one currently waging between the XTERRA Atlantic Series’ rivals Iain Banks and Evan Daney.

In the XTERRA Brandywine Creek 12K Trail Run on March 12th, Evan Daney came in a second in front of Iain Banks. On April 9th, in the XTERRA Seneca Creek 10K, Iain Banks finished a second ahead of Evan Daney.

“In the last race, it was so close coming across the line that no-one could even guess who won and it all came down to the timing chips across the mat,” said Banks. 

On May 7th, at the XTERRA Lums Pond 12K Trail Run, the two will come together for a third time in Bear, Delaware.  

“Iain is shaping up to be a tough guy to beat,” said Daney. “Typically, I am the one controlling the race. Iain has proven to be a formidable opponent who has left me in an all out sprint for the finish twice. During the race, his strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa, so it creates a real chess match as we approach the finish line. I learned a lot about Iain’s racing style at Seneca Creek and don’t intend to place second again.”

“Coming into Seneca Creek, we now both knew each other, so once the gun went off, neither of us was willing to let the other one open any kind of a gap,” admitted Banks. “We literally ran stride for stride at the front of the race for the entire course, and both knew it was going to come to the final mile to see if either one of us would crack.”

XTERRA Lums Pond will clearly be the race to watch. Situated along the banks of the historic Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, the course is situated near ancient Native American hunting camps, old hardwood forests, pristine streams, and fresh ponds.

“It’s an honest course,” said race director Jefferson Nicholson. “It’s flat and fast.”

But it’s not only the men who are throwing down. On her Facebook page on April 18th, Julie Lawand wrote, “Currently sitting in second place for points in this series…Let’s see if I can win that spot in the National Championship out in Utah … Who’s with me???”

“What can I say?” asked Nicholson. “These races are held in the very places our founding fathers fought for freedom. We’re racing in the land of overachievers.” 

Learn more and register for XTERRA Lums Pond.

XTERRA Renegade Rob Teixeira

Rob Teixeira is a big believer in being uncomfortable.

“I see so many people whose worlds have shrunk because they just want to be comfortable,” he says.

A road cyclist, firefighter, and cycling coach for two decades, Teixeira tried out mountain biking three years ago. On one of his first rides, he was humbled by how many times he fell.

“I crashed into a tree. I crashed around this super easy turn. I hit pine needles, and guess what, I crashed. There I was on the ground feeling seven crazy freaking emotions at once. My buddy, who I was riding with, opened his mouth to say something and I just held up my hand, like don’t talk to me.

But what he said to me was, ‘Hey, you’ve been doing this for three months. You’re fine.’ And I realized I was trying to be Kickass Rob, but I couldn’t because this was brand new. Sometimes things are really freaking hard and you have to just hang in there.”

Fast forward two years and Rob Teixeira is the winner of his 45-49 age group at the XTERRA Renegade Duathlon in San Dimas, CA. The course consists of a 3-mile run, a 15-mile mountain bike ride, and another 3-mile run. 

You can watch Rob’s video of the XTERRA Renegade course at Bonelli Park here

“I had a coach who taught me that building fitness or performance or aptitude is like building a bridge. The bigger the bridge, the more you have to put into it. But the thing is, you can’t use a bridge until it’s done. You just have to work and work and work until one day you have a breakthrough. And then you can use the bridge.”Teixeira explains that often, beginning something new requires patience, discipline, and a lot of wrong turns.

“I found XTERRA because someone convinced me to do the XTERRA Malibu Creek Trail Run. I got sucked into it. 14 freaking miles. I took sixth overall, but I don’t know that I need to run 14 freaking miles ever again. That’s how I found XTERRA Renegade. I knew I could run three miles at a time. And I can bike.”

People have often encouraged Teixeira to enter a triathlon or even a 24-hour mountain bike ride. “That’s about as appetizing as whiskey and milk,” he says. “Nope. I’m not swimming and I’m not doing anything that lasts all day.”

For Teixeira, the duathlon is a perfect fit with his coaching philosophy. “We need to be uncomfortable to grow, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a sufferfest either. You gotta be happy. You want to feel the flow.” 

He refers to the groundbreaking book, “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,” written by the Hungarian Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is based on the theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of concentration with what they are doing in the present moment.

“Where skill matches the environment you have the flow. That’s the ideal. Whether I’m fighting a fire or I’m on my bike on some terrifying downhill, I just try to be really in it, you know?”

Teixeira lives in Riverside County but works at the fire station in Lancaster, California in the Antelope Valley of the western Mojave Desert. He describes it as “very wild-westy” with grass, tumbleweed, and a lot of dirt. He’s been a captain for six years and believes in passing on his experience to the next generation.

“I’m the old dog now,” he says. “But I still remember my first fire as the new guy who forgot his breathing apparatus and rushed in with his helmet on backwards. Coaching firefighters is the same as coaching cyclists because how you do anything is how you do everything. How you make your bed is how you are on the fire truck, and how you are on the bike.“

It’s clear that in whatever situation Teixeira is in, he gives one hundred percent. On December 20th, he responded to a call from a woman who needed to get to the hospital to repair a hernia. “The problem was, she was 600 pounds and couldn’t stand up without our help.”

The firemen successfully helped the woman into the ambulance and to the hospital, but in the process of lifting the gurney, Teixeira acquired a hernia of his own. He had surgery on January 31st and was back training for XTERRA Renegade on February 20th.

“I’m not sure how I’m going to do in the duathlon,” he says, “But the truth is, I’d rather be doing this than anything else – just two wheels and the dirt.”

The biggest message Teixeira wants to convey to the athletes he coaches is one Nike popularized years ago. “Just do it,” he says. “Don’t let your world shrink. Don’t wait. You don’t even have to be good. If you’re out in the dirt, messing around, pat yourself on the back because that’s what it’s all about. Nothing you do is a waste of time if it gets you closer to what you want.”

The XTERRA Renegade will be held on Saturday, May 6th. Learn more and register at http://www.XTERRA.com.

For more information about Rob and his coaching, visit www.mtbhero.com

Asia-Pacific Tour Stars All-in for Danao

All the stars on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour are headed to Danao in the Cebu province of the Philippines for the fourth-race of the Series this Sunday, April 23.

In the men’s race XTERRA Saipan and New Zealand Champion Sam Osborne, XTERRA Thailand Champ Kieran McPherson, the reigning XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champ Ben Allen, the reigning XTERRA Philippines Champ Bradley Weiss, the 2016 XTERRA Motatapu Champ Olly Shaw, the 2016 XTERRA Saipan Champ Brodie Gardner, former XTERRA Japan champ Takahiro Ogasawara, and the fastest Filipino in XTERRA Joe Miller will all be on the start line.  Not to mention Will Kelsay, Alex Roberts, Dan Brown, and Taylor Charlton.

“It’s great to have such a competitive Asia-Pacific Tour, although I’ve made it even harder for myself personally with life changing moments occurring during the offseason,” said Allen, who married fellow XTERRA Warrior Jacqui Slack last month just before the Tour started.  “You can’t leave a stone unturned this day and age, it’s becoming a battle and making mistakes are costly. A race going to plan with luck is the key to success on the Tour.”

One man that’s had great success so far this year has been Sam Osborne, now a local hero in his hometown of Rotorua, New Zealand.

“It’s been crazy since XTERRA here in Rotorua, it’s something I’ve wanted and put a lot into and the support here at home has been amazing,” exclaimed Osborne.  “I’ve pulled up well since then and got back into my normal routine pretty quick so happy with how things are going.

When asked what his key to success has been, Osborne said “Have you ever seen Kung Fu Panda? What’s the secret ingredient to the secret ingredient soup…? I’ve got a good crew here at home who are as keen to get out in the bush & in the water as I am and we have fun, “Chop wood, carry water.”

Weiss, who won last year in the Philippines when the race was held in Albay, finished third at XTERRA Reunion on Sunday.

As for the course, Weiss says “I have done a few laps of the course and can tell you it’s going to be brutal out there and the climate is only making the challenge harder. The bike course is two loops of 20km with 700m+ of climbing each lap. Thats 40km total with 1500m elevation gain which is probably one of the toughest courses on the World Tour, add extreme heat and humidity and you have enough to frighten the most hardcore athletes! Doing one loop in training at an easy pace takes close on 90minutes and leaves even the pros pretty exhausted. Doing two laps at race pace should be an interesting experience. My plan is to take it conservatively and try to have something left to be able to run after that!”

In the women’s race it’s a showdown between XTERRA New Zealand Champion Jacqui Allen and XTERRA Reunion Champ Carina Wasle, with emerging talents Penny Slater and Jessica Kolts adding intrigue.

“I’m still on a high since XTERRA New Zealand,” said (Jacqui) Allen.  “I was so happy with my overall performance and now even more excited to tow the start line in the Philippines. I’ve raced XTERRA Philippines five times now and had three runner-up positions, so hopefully this Sunday might be my turn to take the top step. I love here, Sunrise always offers such a wonderful race experience. It’s a new course, new race location, so not too sure what to expect but I like it that way.”

As for Wasle, she has more than just Jacqui Allen to worry about.

“Unfortunately, I broke my little toe at the swim start at the race in Reunion,” she explained.  “At the moment I can’t run, so hope it will get better the next few days because right now my foot doesn’t fit into a running shoe!”

Still, broken toe or not, Wasle has already been out pre-riding the course.

“It is very hot and humid here,” she said.  “I just pre-rode one-loop of the bike course. It’s lots of very steep climbing, sometimes pushing the bike, rocky singletrails and crazy hot out there. It’s one of the toughest courses I have been on and its very long. I think it will take me nearly four hours to finish this race.”

Find the full dossier on the XTERRA Danao elites here.

Learn more at xterradanao.com.

XTERRA Couch to Trail – The Benefits of Running Hill Repeats

XTERRA racing is fun and challenging! Developing off road running skills especially on the hills will add to your enjoyment of these great races.

One of the greatest tools to becoming a better XTERRA and off-road racer is running hill repeats. There is a tremendous amount to be gained from doing moderate and fast uphill running. It forces you to have good form and to develop strong calf and quad muscles.  Furthermore, it’s great practice to run hard while being tired, as you’ll definitely be tired at the top of a hill.

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself: Are you doing hill repeats at the proper time in your training cycle, and are you doing hill repeats properly? Without a doubt, hill repeats, next to aerobic conditioning, can be the single most beneficial part of your training cycle to make you a more efficient and stronger runner.

Over the years the biggest mistake I’ve seen in runners is incorporating hill repeats too early in their training cycle when getting ready for their XTERRA race, and performing hill repeats with bad form. Hill repeats should be added to your training cycle at the proper time in order to ensure that you’re going through the proper muscular adaptation process. As part of that muscular adaptation process there are two types of hill repeats that we’ll look at in this article.

First: Moderate effort, short hill repeats with a downhill circuit

Incorporating moderate effort hill repeats after you’ve come out of your aerobic base period of training is a great way to start conditioning your body for the harder phases of training to come. I like to have athletes repeatedly run a short, steep hill that takes about 10 to 30 seconds to climb in it’s entirety at a moderate effort.  This type of repeat allows you to work on your running form and proper foot plant.  It helps you strengthen your calf muscles, strengthen your Achilles and prepare your body for the harder hill repeats and speed work that you’ll do later in your training.

This is also great time to incorporate what I feel is one of the most overlooked aspects of running – downhill training. So many people take it easy on every downhill they come across in training, that when they encounter one in a race they feel awkward and unsteady. Downhills should be a place where you gain time! Downhills force you to turn the legs over faster than normal. One of the major keys to being as fast as you can be is to spend as little time on the ground as possible. For that reason, running downhill strides is especially awesome for those of you who weren’t blessed with a lot of natural speed.

Here is how to execute this workout:  Do an easy 10 to 15 minute run, allowing your body to warm up sufficiently. Then incorporate a few dynamic stretching exercises before you begin your hill routine. When you’re ready, start at a moderate effort and focus on body position, lifting your knees with a mid-foot plant for 30 seconds up the hill. Then turn around and practice running down the hill, again focusing on good form, with light fast feet landing under your center of mass. Try to have minimal ground contact. Practicing this is especially important for trail running because of the unpaved nature of trails.  You will undoubtedly encounter loose rocks, dirt and crevices forcing you to concentrate not only on your form but on where you are placing each foot.

Second: Long, hard gradual uphills

Incorporating long, hard gradual uphills into your training cycle is a key ingredient to becoming a stronger, faster runner. Again, after a nice easy warm-up and some dynamic stretches, start your repeats. You want the hill to be steep enough to be a challenge, but not so steep that one time up leaves you completely spent.  Remember, this is just one piece of the workout! I like to see my athletes do this workout at a pace that is about five seconds faster than their half marathon pace, or at your aerobic threshold. You want to maintain your race “effort” up the entire hill and then feel good enough to quickly get right back to your race “pace” as soon as you crest the top. Practice makes perfect.

Once again, incorporate running that long gradual downhill as well. You don’t want to do the downhill as hard as the uphill. The effort on the downhill should feel faster than you would on a normal run, but you should still be comfortable. Again the key focus on the downhill should be excellent body position, light fast feet, and keeping them under your center of mass so you’re not burning out your quads.

Always remember, no matter which type of hill repeat you’re doing, when you get to the top of the hill, practice running hard up over the crest. This will really develop your confidence and help you recover back into your race pace faster.

Developing your hill running skills by adding repeats will definitely make your XTERRA race faster, easier and more fun. Nothing puts a smile on your face like cresting a long climb with energy to push forward and attack the downhill on the way to your strong finish.

The XTERRA Couch to XTERRA training series is presented by SheriAnne Little, Jeffrey Kline, and four-time XTERRA age group world champion Mimi Stockton of PRS Fit.  Their new 12-week “Couch-to-XTERRA” training program is designed to do just that, get aspiring athletes off the couch, into training, and to the start line of an XTERRA.  Read past training articles from PRS Fit at http://www.xterraplanet.com/training/couch-to-trail and learn more about their coaching programs at prsfit.com.


Inaugural XTERRA Cyprus This Sunday

This Sunday, the XTERRA European Tour finds itself in the most southern and eastern part of Europe on the ancient island of Cyprus for the inaugural XTERRA Cyprus off-road triathlon. It’s the second of 15 stops on this year’s tour and promises to provide an experience like no other for the XTERRA Tribe.

“Our event is in the Paphos district,” explained XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas. “Coastal Paphos is famed for its archaeological sites relating to the cult of Aphrodite, including ruins of palaces, tombs, and mosaic-tiled villas.”

A dozen of XTERRA’s best off-roaders will be in Cyprus to welcome the new venue, led by the reigning XTERRA Poland Champion Yeray Luxem for the men and the reigning XTERRA European Tour women’s champion Brigitta Poor for the women.

Both will have plenty of competition. For Luxem, it’s Francois Carloni, Hannes Wolpert, Thomas Kerner, Stephan Radeck, Sebastian Neef, Julian Buffe, and Oivind Bjerkseth. For Poor, its Morgane Riou, Daz Parker, and Cecilia Jessen.

“There is no doubt Brigitta is the favorite,” said Nico Lebrun, XTERRA European Tour director. “She was in perfect shape in Malta and able to beat the very strong Helena Erbenova. Her main opponent in Cyprus will be Morgane Riou, who was twice on the podium at XTERRA Argentina and Chile and was 5th last year on the Euro Tour. Morgane has improved a lot and this is a good test for her shape in front of the last year Euro Tour winner.”

Cecilia Jessen was 8th at XTERRA Malta and will likely go toe-to-toe for the podium with Daz Parker, who works as a stunt woman when she’s not racing.

“On the men side, I think we will see a battle between Luxem and Carloni,” said Lebrun. “Carloni was strong in Malta and I bet he will finish the bike leading the race, but he will need more than two-minutes on Luxem to stay in the front and capture his second XTERRA title after Greece in 2015. Luxem, after winning his first major in Poland last year, should be more relaxed and motivated.”

For a place on the podium, Lebrun bets on Wolpert, and says Kerner should also be in good shape, “according to what he was posting on Facebook during the winter.”

Julien Buffe, who already raced twice on the XTERRA Pan Am Tour, will likely be the first man out of the water and if he has a good day, could find himself in the top five.

Norwegian Oivind Bjerkseth, who was 10th at XTERRA Malta, and Stephane Radeck, 13th in Malta, can move up high in the XTERRA European Tour rankings with a good race in Cyprus.

“As we are still at the start of the season and there are 13 races to follow, certainly things will change in the standings,” said Lebrun. “However, with this year’s new theme “Every Race Counts” every point matters for these racers.”


XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas is discovering the sights and sounds of Cyprus in advance of Sunday’s inaugural event.  Here he tells us all about it…

The French/US team has arrived and Nico Lebrun and I are hard at work helping prepare for the first XTERRA on Cyprus.  We are in Paphos, the ancient port city on the southwest coast and this place rocks.  This is not a sleepy little island village but a vibrant area with hundreds of restaurants, disco’s, nightlife and more history and archaeological sites than one can take in.  Whatever your pleasure, you can find it in Paphos and Cyprus.

We’re located in Coral Bay just west of the city and about 30 minutes from the actual race site.  The site is pristine and very rural requiring about 2 miles of rocky, dirt road to arrive at the wonderful Lara Beach cafe, race headquarters.  Cyprus has had a drought condition for several years but this winter brought the rains and the area is green and beautiful.  The bays and Mediterranean are always stunning, but both the bike and run are swamped in beautiful fields of blue and yellow wild flowers.  While there are no tall trees (the Egyptians cut the forests thousands of years ago to build boats) the green shrubbery against the white coral and sandstone make for quite a beautiful course.

Nico Lebrun wrote a nice piece on the bike course and while it does have some short steep climbs and a couple hike a bike sections it is not too technical.  While the two bike loops will equal about 36K the riding time will be about the same as a 30K distance.  The run is basically flat but with a few wonderful sections including a very narrow single track after a brief drop off above Lara Bay.  The view is breathtaking but there is no real danger of falling.  If this old man can do it, then all XTERRA warriors will have no problem.  This is followed by a twisting and turning plateau through short, green bushes and over an uneven, rocky path.  At the end, you’ll wonder where the trail is as you arrive at a white stone cliff about 50′ above the beach.  But there is a way down through crevices and natural steps to arrive at the final quarter mile of beach run.  Stay close to the water as that’s where the dark gray sand is hard.

The port of Paphos is true fun with restaurants along the harbor, an ancient castle and dozens of shops to buy your memento’s.

Cyprus has it all.  Great weather, fabulous trails for running and biking, mountains in the center (Mount Olympus for one) super clear aqua waters, great food and tasty local beer and wine.  Add to this that Cyprus is the birthplace of Aphrodite and often visited by the Gods and you will not be able to experience it all in one visit.

It is still quite British and you drive on the left as in England.  The currency is the Euro so money is not a problem.  The financial problems a few years ago are finished and ATM’s are everywhere and the shops and restaurants take credit cards without a problem.

With Greece the week after, all the XTERRA family needs to consider this fantastic Mediterranean two-week Odyssey.  The race is Sunday and we’ll have more to report as we get closer.


The history of Cyprus is one of the oldest recorded in the world and its historical significance is disproportionate to its small size. Cyprus has just over a million population and is divided with the northeast part being Turkish and the rest of the island the Republic of Cyprus.  Blessed with the beauty of nature’s best palette, the scenery of Cyprus unfolds across glittering coasts, rolling mountains, fragrant forests and rugged headlands. It is not a secret that sportspersons and teams from all over the world, including endurance athletes, European football teams, cycling, swimming & triathlon teams and seasoned medallists, all give themselves a competitive advantage by opting to train towards their goals in Cyprus, thanks to a winning formula of services.

One of the most attractive reasons for choosing the island is indeed its almost-guaranteed daily sunshine, mild winter temperatures and minimal rainfall year-round. The fresh local cuisine is an important part of the island’s culture. From hearty meat dishes and specialty cheeses to unique desserts of carob and grape, the Cypriot cuisine is an exotic blend of Greek and Middle Eastern flavours. The ‘Mediterranean diet’ is considered to be of the healthiest, thanks to its abundance of heart-healthy olive oil, pulses, lean meat, local herbs and freshly grown fruits and vegetables.

Comprised of its old and new towns, rural villages and picturesque resorts, the region is home to some of the most stunning areas of natural beauty on the island, whilst its many archaeological sites are historically invaluable, with Katos Paphos declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The actual race site is the beautiful Akamas National Park and Lara Beach – which is a breeding site for turtles, and the traditional fishing shelter of Latchi.

The athletes will start with a sea swim on the sandy beach next to the transition area, followed by a 2-loop mtb ride on a dry, sandy and rocky terrain. The first part is flat, along the beach. Then you will start to climb, still on a dirt road, but quite rocky and in some parts very steep. At the top, you will reach the aid station, get some fluids to keep yourself hydrated as for sure it will be hot out there.

After that point, you will start to descent with some few technical parts, then up again on a steep climb! Don’t forget to say hello to the typical black pig that you will see on the small farm on your left! Finishing this second climb, the rest part is a fast downhill mainly on a dirt road. At some point you will reach, a new technical point that organizers added to make things more difficult.

This is in general the bike loop that you will have to do twice. The run course is almost flat but not always fast. Some twisted parts of trail run on rocks will be tricky and you will have to focus on your feet and be precise and quick. The end of the loop is along the beach and this is always slow and painful too.


Follow along for images and stories at www.facebook.com/xterraeurope.

Forever Young: Pan Am Champ Libby Harrow

There is a myth in our culture that sports are for the young. After a certain age, it’s time to hang up our running shoes, put away the bike, and take our place on the sidelines. If we are lucky, maybe we can coach.  

Libby Harrow isn’t buying it.

Active all of her life, Harrow majored in physical education and was an Alpine skier in college before Title IX was enacted to eliminate gender discrimination in educational programs. At University of Colorado, her freshman year, “The men’s ski team had races all season, and the women’s team just had one,” said Harrow.

Not satisfied with just one race a year, Harrow transferred to Plymouth State College in New Hampshire where she could compete in more events. “Title IX has made a big difference,” said Harrow. “I’m thrilled to see so many women participating with and against the men in athletics now. It’s not just about fitness – it’s also a political statement.”

After college, Harrow continued to ski and successfully competed in triathlons for 17 years on the roads. “It wasn’t one thing in particular that brought me to XTERRA,” she said. “I wanted something with more skill, for one. And I’ll never forget the year I went to the USA Triathlon National Championship in Missouri. It was in town with a lot of asphalt, and I thought, ‘I traveled all the way here for this?’”

Since Harrow was living in Florida at the time, she entered the XTERRA Oleta in Miami. “I was hooked,” Harrow said. “The races are in such beautiful places. I never went back to racing on the roads.” 

Harrow’s first year, in 2001, she qualified for the XTERRA World Championship and won her 50-54 age group. Since then, she’s been an eight-time regional champ and a three-time world champ.

When asked the secret to such consistent and continuous fitness and success in her races, she said, “Actually I just had my hip replaced last Monday. And I feel unbelievable. It’s miraculous.” Her surgery was at 10:45 in the morning and she was walking around by 3:00 that afternoon.

Harrow went to The Steadman Philippon Research Institute, world-renowned for its orthopedists and innovative research. And this isn’t the first time she’s had this kind of procedure.

She’s had the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL) repaired on her left knee. She’s had the lateral meniscus removed on her left knee and had an allograph procedure (ACL transplant) on her right knee. Last but not least was bunion surgery on her foot.

“I guess my secret is that I’m not willing to give up,” says Harrow.  “I enjoy racing too much. I get to be outside doing all the things I love. And I get to do them longer now that I’m slower. I don’t know why all these people are rushing to the finish line. You can’t rush these things. You’ve got to enjoy it.” 

At the 2016 XTERRA Pan American Championship, Harrow knew she won her age group as soon as the gun went off. “I was the only one in my age group,” she admitted. But knowing she already had victory in the bag didn’t stop her from giving her all.

“The course is extremely hard,” says Harrow. “That climb on the bike is killer. But, I can’t imagine any other place I would have rather been. The weather was beautiful and the other athletes are always wonderful companions for the journey.” 

Despite having surgery less than a week ago, Harrow is already planning her return to the Pan Am Championship this fall. 

“XTERRA is family,” she said. “You go to the races and see people you’ve known for years. I love the energy in the air, as people plan their strategies and ride the course. It’s such a wonderful atmosphere. I’m definitely hoping to be at XTERRA Beaver Creek. And I’d really like to be at XTERRA Lory, but I’m not sure if the doctors will let me. I think I’m going to be even faster this year. Last year, my hip was bothering me so much it slowed me down.”

It’s hard to imagine Harrow slowing down. She is already hiking as much as her doctor will allow, and in the three weeks before she will be cleared to hop on her bike trainer, she is going to repaint some trim on her house. She has just finished redoing her bathroom, where she laid all the new tiles herself.

Still, Harrow is practically jonesing to hit the trails again near her home – Harrow lives just a few miles from the monoliths and red rock canyons of National Monument, Colorado.

“I can’t wait to get back on my mountain bike,” she said. “I love being outside. It’s my life. It’s what I do.”

Ruzafa, Wasle win XTERRA Reunion

La Saline les Bains (Trou d’eau) – Reunion Island – Ruben Ruzafa from Spain and Carina Wasle of Austria captured the third-annual XTERRA Reunion off-road triathlon elite titles for the second year in a row on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017.

It’s the 24th career XTERRA major win for Ruzafa and the 15th for Wasle.

Ruzafa’s winning time of 2:18:50 was more than two-minutes ahead of Frenchman Brice Daubord and four-minutes in front of 2015 Reunion Champ Bradley Weiss.  “It was a great victory, but it was hard-earned,” posted Ruzafa to his twitter account.

In the women’s race Wasle, who won XTERRA Saipan earlier this year, led from wire-to-wire with the fastest swim, bike, and run times.

“Last year I raced XTERRA Reunion the first time. I was very impressed from the beautiful island, the friendly people and the perfect organized raced. It was clear for me that I have to come back and race in this scenic location again,” said Wasle.  “I trained a lot swimming this year and could improve a lot. It’s a great feeling to exit the water first and have already the lead at the start of the bike. I tried to get through the bike course in a steady base, always in my mind not to risk a crash or get a flat tire. I just never knew how big my lead was. Running is normally my strengh and once on the run I already could smell the finish. Only on the last km the heat was very tough, but all the pain was worth when I ran in first place through the finish. So happy to defend my titel from last year.”

Complete Results / Pictures

In the men’s race Daubord was first out of the water in 20:18 followed closely by Weiss then Ruzafa 38-seconds later.

“It was one of my best swims in recent memory,” said Weiss, who broke his wrist in a mountain bike accident in December. “It’s been a rocky road back to full fitness since my injury and I’m happy with a solid swim after months of hard work. My injuries are now a thing of the past.”

Daubord’s lead didn’t last long as the four-time champion of France’s cross-country triathlon championship suffered a brief mechanical issue, giving way to Ruzafa and Weiss.

From there Ruzafa posted the fastest split of the day in 1:11:23, more than two-minutes quicker than Weiss, and took a lead into the run he would not relinquish.

“Having Ruben in a race always changes the dynamics, including my race tactics, and I was determined to give him everything I had on the bike,” said Weiss.

Ruzafa’s lead grew to about 40-seconds on Weiss after a technical single-track section, and Ruzafa began the run with a two-minute lead.

Daubord had the fastest run split of the day and passed Weiss halfway to the finish to move into second-place. “Brice is a phenomenal runner,” said Weiss. “When I saw him on the run, I knew I was in trouble. He came past me at the 5K mark. I hung in for a while but he broke the elastic first.”

Nico Sterk finished eight-minutes behind Weiss in fourth, with Dominik Wychera in 5th.

As for Wasle, she went relatively unchallenged as South African Vicky Van Der Merwe, who placed 4th at XTERRA South Africa in February, had a tough fall on the bike that made for a long day.

“Yesterday was the deepest I’ve had to dig to finish a race,” she posted to her FB page. “After a bad crash on the bike I ran the last 5km of the bike leg with a fractured wrist. The 10km run after that was purely on adrenaline! Silly mistake but happy just to have finished.”

Truly a gutsy performance for Van Der Merwe, who basically ran nine miles with a broken wrist, “and massive thanks to organizers and doctors for looking after me so well,” she added.

Organizer Yannick Desfarges called the event a huge success.  “Everyone I spoke with said it was a magnificent race with beautiful trails.  We are proud to provide this unique experience in the Indian Ocean, on the island of Reunion we call the ‘intense island!”

More than 500 participants took part in the weekend events, include 180 kids on Saturday.

All-Time XTERRA Reunion Champions

2015 – Bradley Weiss/Carla Van Huyssteen

2016 – Ruben Ruzafa/Carina Wasle

2017 – Ruben Ruzafa/Carina Wasle

XTERRA Reunion Elite Results

Pl Name, NAT Time Swim Bike Run
1 Ruben Ruzafa, ESP 02:18:50 00:21:22 01:11:23 00:44:41
2 Brice Daubord, FRA 02:21:33 00:20:18 01:16:14 00:43:58
3 Bradley Weiss, RSA 02:22:59 00:20:44 01:13:41 00:47:12
4 Nico Sterk, RSA 02:30:32 00:21:27 01:17:53 00:49:51
5 Dominik Wychera, AUT 02:31:23 00:23:11 01:17:11 00:49:43
6 Christophe Betard, FRA 02:33:16 00:24:39 01:16:42 00:50:17
7 Aidan Nugent, RSA 02:34:38 00:21:29 01:20:47 00:51:09
8 Darryn Purtell, RSA 02:42:33 00:22:32 01:26:14 00:52:06
Elite Women
Pl Name, NAT Time Swim Bike Run
1 Carina Wasle, AUT 02:51:02 00:22:51 01:28:30 00:57:49
2 Vicky Van Der Merwe, RSA 03:28:25 00:23:13 02:01:40 00:59:46

2017 XTERRA World Championship Qualifying Series Schedule

XTERRA Reunion was the 10th of 41 events where amateur athletes from around the world could qualify to race at the 22nd annual XTERRA World Championship in Maui on October 29.

Date Race Elite Winners or Location
Feb 25 XTERRA South Africa Richard Murray / Flora Duffy
Mar 4 XTERRA Motatapu Dougal Allan / Josie Wilcox
Mar 18 XTERRA Saipan + Silver Sam Osborne / Carina Wasle
Mar 25 XTERRA Argentina # Silver Gonzalo Tellechea / Suzie Snyder
Apr 1 XTERRA Thailand + Silver Kieran McPherson / Renata Bucher
Apr 1 XTERRA Chile # Silver Felipe Barraza / Barbara Riveros
Apr 2 XTERRA Malta * Silver Roger Serrano / Brigitta Poor
Apr 8 XTERRA New Zealand + Silver Sam Osborne / Jacqui Allen
Apr 9 XTERRA Costa Rica # Silver Josiah Middaugh / Suzie Snyder
Apr 16 XTERRA La Reunion Ruben Ruzafa / Carina Wasle
Apr 23 XTERRA Cyprus * Silver Lara Beach/Akamas, Paphos
Apr 23 XTERRA Cebu + GOLD Danao, Cebu, Philippines
Apr 29 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship / Malaysia + GOLD Langkawi, Malaysia
Apr 30 XTERRA Greece * Silver Vouliagmeni
May 6 XTERRA Tahiti + Silver Moorea
May 14 XTERRA Spain * Silver Taragonna
May 14 XTERRA Brazil # Silver Ilha Bella, Sao Paolo
May 20 XTERRA Oak Mountain # GOLD Pelham, AL, USA
May 27 XTERRA Portugal * Silver Golega
Jun 10 XTERRA Belgium * Silver Namur
Jun 17 XTERRA Mine over Matter ^ Milton, Ontario, Canada
Jun 18 XTERRA Finland * Silver Imatra
Jun 24 XTERRA Switzerland * GOLD Vallee de Joux
Jul 2 XTERRA France * GOLD Xonrupt
Jul 9 XTERRA Victoria # Silver Victoria, B.C., Canada
Jul 15 XTERRA Beaver Creek # GOLD Beaver Creek, CO, USA
Jul 30 XTERRA Abruzzo * Silver Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy
Aug 5 XTERRA Mexico # GOLD Tapalpa
Aug 5 XTERRA Norway * Silver Norefjell
Aug 6 XTERRA Canmore ^ Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Aug 12 XTERRA Quebec ^ Quebec City, Canada
Aug 12 XTERRA Parry Sound ^ Ontario, Canada
Aug 13 XTERRA Dominican Republic # Silver Barahona
Aug 13 XTERRA Poland * Silver Krakow
Aug 19 XTERRA Germany * GOLD Zittau
Aug 26 XTERRA Sweden * Silver Hammarbybacken, Stockholm
Aug 26 XTERRA Sleeping Giant ^ Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
Sep 2 XTERRA Japan + Silver Hokkaido
Sep 3 XTERRA European Championship / Denmark * GOLD Mons Klint
Sep 16 XTERRA Pan American Championship / USA # D-GOLD Ogden, Utah, USA
Oct 29 XTERRA World Championship Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

* XTERRA European Tour / # XTERRA Pan American Tour / + Asia-Pacific Tour

Silver = Min. $7,500 pro purse & 75-point scale // GOLD = Min $15,000 pro purse & 100-point scale

About TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA

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 33+ countries worldwide and produce 10 adventure television shows for international distribution.  Learn more at xterraplanet.com.

XTERRA Danao Sunday, April 23

The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour is back in action next Sunday, April 23, with the inaugural XTERRA Danao off-road triathlon in Cebu.

Danao is stop No. 4 on the Tour and has attracted an all-star cast.  The men’s field includes XTERRA Saipan and New Zealand Champ Sam Osborne, XTERRA Thailand Champ Kieran McPherson, last year’s XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champion Ben Allen, former XTERRA Japan Champ Takahiro Ogasawara, last year’s XTERRA Motatapu Champ Olly Shaw, and last year’s Saipan Champ Brodie Gardner, who is currently ranked second in the Asia-Pacific Tour standings.

The women’s elite field features XTERRA Saipan Champ Carina Wasle, the reigning XTERRA Malaysia Champ Jacqui Slack, last year’s XTERRA Argentina and Costa Rica Champ Myriam Guillot-Boisset, alongside Penny Slater and Jessica Koltz.

Find the full dossier on the XTERRA Danao elites here.



Rappin’ with Rife

Two-Time XTERRA USA Champion Rife Hilgartner focuses on training, and living, in the moment.

Rife is a sports junkie. He played soccer as soon as he could walk, was an All-American lacrosse player in college, and is a PSIA-AASI certified snowboard instructor. He’s also a NASM CPT-certified personal trainer, a certified Pilates instructor, and the founder of How Fit Training and Coaching.

And in his spare time? Hilgartner trains for XTERRA off-road triathlons, which he’s been competing in for more than a decade. His most recent showing was at XTERRA Costa Rica last weekend, where he finished second in the 45-49 age group.

In 2006, Hilgartner was already an avid mountain biker and trail runner when his friend signed up for XTERRA Buffalo Creek.

“We were both waiting tables at the time, and he came back from the race and was like, ‘Dude, you should try this. You mountain bike and then you trail run. It’s everything you love.’ Then he was like, ‘But you do a swim first.’”

Hilgartner went home and signed up for XTERRA Crested Butte – despite the required swim.

“My swim was absolutely atrocious,” admits Hilgartner. “Out of 200 athletes, I was probably 180th out of the water. But then I rode through half the field and passed more on the run. I got home and I was like, if I can just figure out the swim thing.”

Quickly, Hilgartner became enchanted with XTERRA off-road racing. “Immediately, I wanted to go to Hawaii. I wanted to go to the XTERRA World Championship.”

It only took Hilgartner a year to qualify for the big race in Maui, and since then, he’s been crushing it by constantly striving to be better, stronger, and faster.

“About a year ago, I got out of the pool, and I said to my training partner, ‘It’s all about how hard can we swim? How big can our power be on the bike? How fast can we cover a trail in Vail?’

“Those are all variables we can control. I can continue to work on getting stronger, faster, fitter. Every day is a day to improve. Today is a good day to be better.”

At its core, Hilgartner’s philosophy is almost Zen-like. He doesn’t worry about times, place, or even tomorrow’s workout.

“You can’t get bogged down in all the things you can’t control, because then you lose focus. You say, OK, I’m going to swim practice and this is what the workout is. I just want to do this thing right now. I want to focus on my form. I want to make sure I’m finishing my stroke. I want to pay attention to all the details,” he explains.  “Obviously, my goal is to win. I’d be lying if I said something different, but at the same time, when I’m training, I try to focus on being present to what I’m doing.”

Hilgartner explains that being present and training in the moment gives athletes a huge mental edge because it teaches them how to endure discomfort.

“When you’re in the middle of a hard workout and it totally sucks because it’s so painful, you’re more likely to give up if you think about how many more hill repeats you have than if you just focus on what you’re doing. And if you don’t give up, you get all the physiological benefits from your training.”

Hilgartner readily admits he used this philosophy at the 2016 XTERRA Pan Am Championship last fall. He had a solid swim and kept picking people off on the bike.

“I was so happy to be there,” says Hilgartner. “I remember slapping Marcus Barton on the ass as we ran to T1 and telling him the mountains were waiting! The hardest part of the day was the second climb on the run, trying to increase the lead, but it was worth it when I was on the top step for the second year in a row.”

In addition to improving his fitness, Hilgartner’s focus on the process flows into other areas of his life as well, from his dedication to being present for his twin girls to his admiration of his girlfriend Cheri, whom Hilgartner calls “the strongest person I know.”

Since returning from Costa Rica, Hilgartner is already focused on his upcoming races, taking it one workout at a time, and gunning for the win.

Look for Rife at XTERRA Oak Mountain, XTERRA Beaver Creek and XTERRA Aspen Valley.

XTERRA athlete profile by Reyn Okimoto, Shidler College of Business, class of 2017