It’s on! 31 days and counting to the greatest celebration in XTERRA history, the 20th edition of the World Championship in Maui.
We start the hype with news that defending champs Ruben Ruzafa from Spain and Flora Duffy from Bermuda will have their toes in the sand once more and are getting ready right now to take on all-comers November 1. It’s important to note, however, that the men’s and women’s champions have never been the same in back-to-back years … could this be the season that all changes?
DUFFY TO DEFEND TITLE IN MAUI
Flora Duffy, the most dominant woman in off-road triathlon, has done just about everything she set out to accomplish in 2015 and now has her sights set on defending her XTERRA World Championship.
“XTERRA Worlds is my next and final race of the season and I’m really looking forward to it,” exclaimed Duffy, fresh off an impressive wire-to-wire win at the ITU Cross Tri World Championships in Italy.
Since the start of 2014 Duffy has been near perfect in XTERRA races, winning 11 of the 12 championship events she entered. Her lone blemish during the stretch was at the XTERRA Germany Championship, which doubled as ITU Cross Worlds last year.
This season she won the first two XTERRA World Tour races of the year in the Philippines and at her adopted second-home in South Africa, took the prestigious XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship title in Australia in April, and avenged some demons by winning the XTERRA Mountain Championship in Colorado this July (it was at that race in 2013 she finished 6th and vowed never to do another).
Duffy also had her best year yet on the ITU World Triathlon Series with podium finishes in Abu Dhabi and Edmonton, and a seventh-place ranking in the final standings that has all but assured her spot on Bermuda’s Olympic triathlon team for the third time.
“It is not 100% solidified because qualification does not end until May 2016, but right now I am ranked well enough that an Olympic slot for Rio 2016 is pretty much a sure thing,” explained Duffy.
As for her secrets to success this year, she said “This season sort of took me a bit by surprise, I never expected to have two podiums and finish 7th overall in the series. I had a really great winter of training and managed to stay injury free which allowed me to work a lot on my running. There is a lot of cross over between XTERRA and ITU training, however, to really dial things in for Maui I tend to do a bit more volume on the bike, and do more hill reps on the run…..because we all know that the run just goes up, up and up! I’ve also neglected my mountain bike a bit this summer so will spend the next four weeks riding as much trail as I can!”
All that training will be done in the triathlon mecca of Boulder, Colorado.
“I just arrived back from a two week race trip which leaves me with four solid training weeks in Boulder, a week taper, then race time. Hopefully the weather stays nice in October here in Boulder,” said Duffy. “You just never know how it will be- could be cold and snow, or warm and beautiful. Either way, I have a great support system here so find it beneficial to spend as much time as I can here before leaving for Maui.”
As for the Maui course itself, Duffy says she has a “love/hate relationship” with it.
“It suits me, so in a way I have to like it but it is not my favorite,” she explained. “It is an honest course, but very specific and not a course for everyone, and you need a certain skill set to really excel on it. There just isn’t anywhere to hide on the course.”
Duffy won last year’s race by more than two-minutes after posting the best swim, the best bike (despite a wicked crash that sent her flying into the bushes) and the second-best run behind only runner-up Barbara Riveros.
We’ll have more on the challengers like Riveros – who has been able to get the better of Duffy on the road but not in the dirt – plus two-time XTERRA World Championship winner Lesley Paterson, America’s best Emma Garrard, and European great Helena Erbenova in the weeks to come.
RUZAFA IN PURSUIT OF PERFECTION…AGAIN!
As for the men’s race, it’s the world vs. Ruzafa. It’s been a couple years of races in more than a dozen countries against the best from everywhere and no one has figured out a way to take down the three-time World Champ.
He’s won 15 straight XTERRA majors since winning Worlds in October of 2013, and the closest race he had was against Conrad Stoltz in England this summer, and now the Caveman is retired.
Ruzafa also just won his second-straight ITU Cross Tri World title last weekend, and if someone doesn’t work some magic in Maui he’ll wrap up his second-straight perfect season and win his fourth XTERRA World Championship (matching Stoltz’ record).
Trust there are men on their way to Maui with plans of an upset like American great Josiah Middaugh, Aussie star Ben Allen, Mexico Champ Francisco Serrano (who was just 30-seconds back on Saturday in Italy), Kiwi adventure racing guru Braden Currie, Costa Rica Champ Rom Akerson, and the young guns Mauricio Mendez, Bradley Weiss, Olly Shaw, and Arthur Forissier.
It’s only one month away, let the imaginations run wild…
PAST CHAMPS AND RECORDS
PAST MEN’S CHAMPIONS (Runner-up)
2014: Ruben Ruzafa (ESP), 2:29:56 (Josiah Middaugh)
2013: Ruben Ruzafa (ESP), 2:34:34 (Asa Shaw)
2012: Javier Gomez (ESP), 2:26:54 (Josiah Middaugh)
2011: Michael Weiss (AUT), 2:27:00 (Dan Hugo)
2010: Conrad Stoltz (RSA), 2:31:07 (Franky Batelier)
2009: Eneko Llanos (ESP), 2:37:22 (Nico Lebrun)
2008: Ruben Ruzafa (ESP), 2:37:36 (Michi Weiss)
2007: Conrad Stoltz (RSA), 2:40:54 (Olivier Marceau)
2006: Hamish Carter (NZL), 2:42:36 (Olivier Marceau)
2005: Nicolas Lebrun (FRA), 2:38:19 (Eneko Llanos)
2004: Eneko Llanos (ESP), 2:28:44 (Olivier Marceau)
2003: Eneko Llanos (ESP), 2:32:56 (Nicolas LeBrun)
2002: Conrad Stoltz (RSA), 2:22:55 (Eneko Llanos)
2001: Conrad Stoltz (RSA), 2:28:48 (Kerry Classen)
2000: Michael Tobin (USA), 2:30:53 (Mike Vine)
1999: Ned Overend (USA), 2:32:50 (Michael Tobin)
1998: Ned Overend (USA), 2:24:46 (Wes Hobson)
1997: Mike Pigg (USA), 2:28:48 (Ned Overend)
1996: Jimmy Riccitello (USA), 2:27:42 (Mike Pigg)
MEN’S RECORD BOOK (Just for fun)
Swim Record: Glenn Wachtel (USA) 18:10 (2000)
Bike Record: Michael Weiss (AUT) 1:17:30 (2011)
Run Record: Jan Rehula (CZE) 33:14 (2004)
Winning Time: Conrad Stoltz (RSA) 2:22:55 (2002)
PAST WOMEN’S CHAMPIONS (Runner-up)
2014: Flora Duffy (BER) 2:47:59 (Barbara Riveros)
2013: Nicky Samuels (NZL), 2:57:48 (Lesley Paterson)
2012: Lesley Paterson (GBR), 2:44:12 (Barbara Riveros)
2011: Lesley Paterson (GBR), 2:45:59 (Marion Lorblanchet)
2010: Shonny Vanlandingham (USA), 2:58:20 (Julie Dibens)
2009: Julie Dibens (GBR), 2:56:42 (Lesley Paterson)
2008: Julie Dibens (GBR), 3:03:57 (Danelle Kabush)
2007: Julie Dibens (GBR), 3:01:24 (Melanie McQuaid)
2006: Melanie McQuaid (CAN), 3:07:53 (Danelle Kabush)
2005: Melanie McQuaid (CAN), 3:07:16 (Sybille Matter)
2004: Jamie Whitmore (USA), 3:01:35 (Melanie McQuaid)
2003: Melanie McQuaid (CAN), 2:57:08 (Jamie Whitmore)
2002: Candy Angle (USA), 2:57:33 (Jamie Whitmore)
2001: Anke Erlank (RSA), 3:00:59 (Cherie Touchette)
2000: Kerstin Weule (USA), 3:07:04 (Melanie McQuaid)
1999: Shari Kain (USA), 3:04:19 (Kerstin Weule)
1998: Sue Latshaw (USA), 2:58:49 (Uli Blank)
1997: Cameron Randolph (USA), 3:04:25 (Lesley Tomlinson)
1996: Michellie Jones (AUS), 3:04:53 (Shari Kain)
WOMEN’S RECORD BOOK (Just for fun)
Swim Record: Raeleigh Tennant (AUS) 18:31 (2000)
Bike Record: Melanie McQuaid (CAN) 1:29:27 (2011)
Run Record: Erika Csomor (HUN) 38:18 (2004)
Winning Time: Lesley Paterson (GBR) 2:45:59 (2011)