Suzie Snyder

XTERRA West Championship One Month Out

The XTERRA U.S. Pro Series kicks off April 25, 2015 in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada for the seventh straight year.  It’s also the first chance for U.S.-based amateurs to qualify for the 20th XTERRA World Championship in Maui on Nov. 1.

“I have a love/hate relationship with Vegas,” said XTERRA Pro Suzie Snyder.  “It is always a real challenge. There’s the temperature extremes of swimming in the cold water lake then biking and running in the hot, dry, exposed desert landscape.  And for a lot of people it’s the first race of the year so the nervous energy runs high as everyone is eager to see where they stand.”

Learn more at www.xterralakelasvegas.com.

Steve Tarpinian

Steve Tarpinian, 1960-2015

Steve Tarpinian, one of the true legends of triathlon, passed away this week at the age of 54.

“Tarp” was an XTERRA original. In that first race in 1996 he was one of the fastest swimmers in the field and ultimately finished on the podium in the 35-39 division, placing 36th overall.

The world-renowned swim coach from Long Island, New York fell in love with Maui and the challenge of XTERRA that year and made it a staple in every season thereafter.

For more than a decade Steve was the only competitor from the continental U.S. to have competed in each XTERRA World Championship, as he made the long trip to Maui every year for 17 seasons in a row.

“We lost a great XTERRA Warrior this week,” said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas.  “Steve was there from the very beginning of XTERRA and we worked together well.  I recall meeting him in his office in New York and figuring out how we could work XTERRA and his swim coaching together and how to create an off-road tri in upstate New York.  Always had a smile when bantering with him, saying ‘when the hell are you going to get a haircut?’ to which Steve would reply ‘when you learn how to swim.”

Tarpinian’s impact on triathlon went far beyond XTERRA, and to get a feel for just how many people he touched have a look at the comments in Tuesday’s slowtwitch.com post announcing his passing.

“Steve was single handedly responsible for the triathlon movement on Long Island,” said fellow New Yorker and XTERRA great Anthony Snoble.

“A true legend of sport.”

At XTERRA Worlds in 2003 Tarp went head-over-heels on the bike, “a 360-degree flip” as he described it, broke his pedal, two ribs, and then flatted.

“I made the bike cut-off by five minutes, and the finish by 10,” recalled Tarpinian, later adding that the race was among his all-time greatest accomplishments.

Of course, much like all frequent visitors to the old Maui course, spills and thrills were nothing new…

“The first year I was in 5th after the swim and on the very first downhill I started to lose control at about 20mph and decide to lay it down right there before I got going too fast. While I was on the ground Ned Overend comes flying down in an aero tuck going at least 35 + mph, looking like he was on pavement! I laughed at how badly I sucked on a mountain bike!”

He didn’t suck. Ned was that good.

Tarpinian was a swimmer in college at Stony Book University on Long Island, where he made it to NCAA Nationals and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. He had many skills but found his niche in swimming, triathlon, and coaching.

In a profile form he filled out 10 years ago Tarp described his pre-race rituals as “Coffee, chocolate, coffee, chocolate, repeat til’ ready” and listed his hobbies as “modeling, surfing, and romancing with Jean.”

Jean is his long-time partner, who he said always looked forward to the desert bar in Maui : )

Tarpinian was a good friend and motivator to many, and will be greatly missed.

Looking back, we found this article Steve wrote for XTERRA in 2004, titled “10 Years of XTERRA, already?”

By Steve Tarpinian

When I first did XTERRA in 1996 I knew immediately it was a special event, but I had no intentions of making any kind of a string of finishes. My interest was pretty pure and pretty much the same as when I did my first triathlon….gulp, 25 years ago! It seemed like a challenge and something not many had done. In a way, triathlons have always been about exploring new frontiers; but by 1996 they were getting a little stale. Well, I was soon to discover “the wild west” of our sport.

Looking at the course description for the first XTERRA race, the only thing that resembled a normal triathlon was the swim and the first two miles of the bike (on pavement). As soon as we turned off the road we did a little climb, and then preceded with what most of us triathletes considered a challenging course and mountain bikers considered “fun” and fairly non-technical!

A few things stand out in my mind from that first XTERRA World Championship (a little trivia for you, the first event was called Aquaterra). From the first contact with the people running the event it was obvious this was going to be a unique and first class event. Registration was very organized and the presence of such Mountain Biking Legends as Ned Overend (what a cool name for a mountain biker) and Mike Kloser in addition to triathletes like Mike Pigg, Scott Tinley and Jimmy Riccitello gave the event an air of a showdown.

The 9am start time was the equivalent of a noon start time for us veteran triathletes. As I approached the transition area I see at least a half a dozen television cameras and can hear announcer Whit Raymond with his deep voice booming on the PA system:

AAAAAAAAQUAAAAAAAAAAAATEEEEEEEEEEERRRA!

Ocean swim, mountain biking and trail running. All of a sudden I had chills and visions of sharks and broken bones! Why did I sign up for this again?

On the start line I felt more like we were all in this challenge together as opposed to a competitive world championship. A mass start would put professionals and age groupers on the start line altogether, just like the races of the early 80’s….cool!

Telling you the XTERRA Race course is beautiful is an understatement. The bike course is only open on race day each year (since it is privately owned). The view down Haleakala just before the plunge is literally breathtaking. It may be enhanced by the fact that you only get to enjoy it for a few seconds before the downhill takes every bit of your concentration, nerve and strength.

Here is a quick synopsis of my first XTERRA: I have a nice swim and get out on the bike course in the top five. A few triathletes like Pigg and Tinley make short work of me, but otherwise I get the first off-road climb under my belt in good form and start the first little descent.

Did I say mountain biking skills were not my forte? Well, about halfway down this hill I realize I am on loose lava rocks and stand no chance of braking. My speed is increasing and I guess I was going about 20 MPH or so. I start losing control and realize I am going to crash, so I make it a graceful slide off to the side of the trail and as I slowly get up and check my scrapes, I hear a low whirr……It is Ned Overend in a road bike tuck that I have only seen Tour de France riders use during a descent in the Alps! His bike is totally under control and hardly bouncing. I estimate he is going 35 – 40 mph and looking like he is on flat pavement! I am not sure but I think he even looked over to see if I was okay! With my ego bruised I forged on towards the “plunge”, a 5-mile screaming downhill with some random loose lava rocks looming like land mines on the trail and off the trail to either side was an array of sharp pointy lava rocks and Kiawe thorns. In other words: DON’T FALL! After surviving the plunge I am not sure if I just finished the most exciting amusement park ride or should be committed to a psychiatry ward for suicidal tendencies. Either way, I am full of endorphins and have an awesome run with single track trails, soft sand, rocky beaches and finally one of the most festive and exciting finish lines I have ever had the luck to cross.

Since then I have competed in every XTERRA World Championship, nine going for ten. Why do I go back each year?

  1. I have an annual swim workshop in Hawaii each October
    2. I love Maui and it’s residents
    3. Racing with my friend Rip Esselstyn
    4. The pre and post-race parties are unbelievable with great food and entertainment (read, Greg Welch)
    5. Top level international World Championship competition
    6. Colorful (and crazy) race director
    7. Great race shirts
    8. Great post-race dance and costume party
    9. The spirit and camaraderie of the competitors and event team
    10. The challenge
Squaw Lake

XTERRA Points Series Spotlight

It starts in California and ends up in Arizona … thus the name, the XTERRA Tri2Unify off-road triathlon.

Now in its second-year, the Tri2Unify takes place on a scenic, point-to-point course during the sunny end of spring, on Sunday, May 3 to be exact.

It starts at Squaw Lake in Bard, California, and ends at Historic Quarter Master Depot in Yuma, Az.

There are two major thrilling hills and a few exhilarating curves as the course follows the striking Colorado River. You finish the last half mile running past the legendary Territorial Prison, Ocean to Ocean Bridge, and the East Wetlands wild life bird reserve leading you up to the finish line. The event also includes a top-notch expo, and post-race festival complete with music and a large finish line with an awards ceremony.

The XTERRA Tri2Unify Triathlon has 3 different distances offered and is hosting the Unified Triathlon for the Special Olympic Athletes May 2 at the Yuma Palms Resort.

Learn more at www.tri2unify.com or email ewanancy@aol.com.

Two-time Olympian Courtney Atkinson to Take On Asia-Pacific Champs

Two-time Australian Olympian Courtney Atkinson has confirmed he will race at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Callala Beach, Jervis Bay, next month.

The 35-year-old from the Gold Coast was second overall at the inaugural event last year and captured the XTERRA Australia Championship title for being the top Aussie in the field.

The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship, which again doubles as the XTERRA Australia Championship, is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Atkinson, who is trying to make the Australian triathlon Olympic team for the third time so he can race for gold in Rio next summer said “XTERRA puts me that little bit on edge racing in an environment that is not my normal playing field and I dig that fact.”

“I’m coming back to race XTERRA because “I” want to. Last year my mates and I came down to Jervis Bay in NSW and we made a weekend out of it. We had a great time racing and good nights at the RSL club, it reminded me a lot of triathlon when I first started as a young guy,” he said.

Despite spending most of his training time on the road Atkinson says he does still jump on his mountain bike and adds that the power riding in XTERRA is good training too.

“About 95% of my riding is on road now, but I do get to take the mountain bike out after my long run at my local trails to warm down and that at least keeps my feel for the bike.  To be honest I believe the mountain bike riding helps for the Olympic racing more than the Ironman stuff.  We are really up and down on power in ITU just like a hard mountain bike race. There are dangers riding fast in packs on the road, but at least in mountain biking you are in control of the risks. Obviously I don’t go crazy like some of the boys do when racing XTERRA,” he said.

Last year at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship Atkinson was the first man out of the swim by a full minute, but that lead didn’t last.

“Straight in, first mud hole, I got the first big crash done,” laughed Atkinson after the race. “I thought I’d be able to hold a lead but it seems the fire tracks are as hard as the single track on this course.”

Dan Hugo, Ben Allen, and Roger Serrano bridged the gap to Atkinson within the first few kilometers of the bike, then the eventual winner Hugo got some daylight and drove a wedge between himself and the rest of the field.  By the bike-to-run transition Hugo had three minutes on Serrano and Allen, and roughly six minutes to Braden Currie, Bradley Weiss, and Atkinson.  Atkinson showed off some amazing foot speed by picking off everyone in front of him except Hugo.

“When I heard I was six minutes down I didn’t think I could bridge that no matter how well I ran but I heard that Benny (Allen) was two minutes up so started thinking about winning the XTERRA Australia title and pushed,” explained Atkinson.

About the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship (April 18 – Callala Beach, Jervis Bay, NSW)

As the most prestigious event in the Asia-Pacific series that includes championship races in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Guam, Tahiti, and Saipan – the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship will offer $50,000 in prize money to the sport’s top professional athletes and produce a television show for international distribution.

The main event combines a 1.5-kilometer ocean swim at Callala Beach, approximately two and a half hours south on Sydney, with 30-kilometers of mountain biking followed by 10-kilometers of trail running.  The event lures amateur and professional athletes from around the world to New South Wales, and locals flock to the event in pursuit of XTERRA Australia Championship honours.  The off-road sports festival weekend also includes a sprint distance off-road triathlon, trail runs, and relay team competitions attracting more than 500 competitors of all ages.

For more information and links to registration visit www.xterraasiapacific.com.

The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.  Presenting sponsors include John Paul Mitchell Systems, the world’s largest privately owned professional salon hair care company, Outrigger Resorts – one of the largest and fastest growing privately-held leisure lodging, retail and hospitality companies in the Asia-Pacific and Oceania regions, and XTERRA Wetsuits & Boards Australia – the official swim sponsor.

Dougal Allan

Allan, Maier/Simson win Motatapu

Results / Full Release

Some wild weather came through the South Island of New Zealand on Saturday making for some tricky conditions for both racers and organizers at the XTERRA Motatapu off-road triathlon.

With heavy rain the morning of the race, the course was muddier and wetter than previous years, which appealed to many competitors citing “the challenging and brutal course” a great personal challenge.

Throughout the day organizers with a team of officials experienced in local rivers, monitored the rising river levels as the morning rain flushed down the valleys.

Near midday, high river levels meant it was unsafe for competitors to continue crossing the last river on the course. As a result, and for the continued safety of all competitors, a course diversion was put in place 2km up the Arrow River which meant competitors completed two different routes on the day.

Wanaka triathlete Dougal Allan backed up a strong performance in Challenge Wanaka just two weeks ago to come in first place, edging 24-year-old Oliver Shaw with a time of 4:27:41.

“Yea it was a tough day out there!” exclaimed Shaw, who took the runner-up spot for the second straight year. “The conditions were brutal. Some of the worst I have raced in with single digit temperatures and heavy rain making for a very slow and hard race! For a comparison to last year, I think the everyone averaged around 30 minutes or more slower this time around. The organizers do a great job of informing people that you are racing in an alpine environment and this year everyone saw firsthand just how fast things can change up there. The rivers rose dramatically making for some exciting and technical river crossings! It was also noticeable how much they had risen from when we crossed them on the bike, compared to the end of the run where they would have been at least 50cm deeper!

I had a tough day out there. It’s always interesting racing in cold conditions and personally I didn’t feel my hands or feet until I got to the run! I had a great swim to get a lead on the rest of the field but the storming Dougal Allan caught me on the bike and flew past. I managed to stay close and just trail him into T2. We stayed really close for the first 15 minutes of the run but when we reached the technical track Dougal took off and I wasn’t able to follow, being a bit restricted with the movement in my hip. Dougal was having a great run though and comfortably took the win. I managed to hold onto 2nd and come across the line feeling relieved to have crossed the line after the long and tough race!”

Competing in his first Motatapu XTERRA– he’s done the Speight’s Mountain Bike race twice – Allan said he was feeling pretty fit coming into the race, despite two big races in recent weeks.

“It was a fantastic race. I was really happy with my swim, but then the bike and run felt a little hard and I was always looking for Oliver to pass me. But then I thought, do you know what, do you want another 2nd or 3rd placing or do you want to win this,” said Allan.         “This is a really great race and with today’s weather, people are even more jubilant coming across the finish line. Full credit to everyone out there today, just getting to the finish line is a huge achievement.”

Taking out the female elite title in the XTERRA UDC Triathlon, Wanaka locals Simone Maier and Jess Simson made a pact half way through the 47km mountain bike ride that they’d “finish the race together.”

Both athletes competed in the Motatapu off the back of strong performances in Challenge Wanaka and the Coast to Coast and both admitted to “feeling a little tired.” The duo crossed the line with a skip and a hop to finish neck and neck with a joint first place time of 5:32:36 – the first time in race history there has been a joint winner.

“The conditions weren’t that bad,” said Maier. “I was expecting a lot worse but it was fine, I was just feeling tired after Challenge and also lack of sleep watching my friends compete in Godzone this week. So it was nice that Jess and I could sit back and chat on the ride.”

Coast to Coast winner Jess Simson competed in the XTERRA UDC Triathlon for the first time and said it was “really cool to finish first equal”.

“We were both feeling like sacks in this event,” said Simson. “Normally we can blitz this sort of thing but we know our bodies are tired. We’re both really proud because we’ve both done some big efforts lately and to be able to come and do this in a decent time is sweet. We’re happy.”

“It was quite muddy on the bike and the run was a bit slippery, but the swim was nice being calm and the water was warm. There’s something quite cool about going from Wanaka to Arrowtown under your own steam. Normally you drive that. The Motatapu valley is extremely typical of Central Otago, it’s quite beautiful.”

Tom Kiely

The Business Behind XTERRA

Two of the most influential men in the endurance sports industry – the Voice of Ironman Mike Reilly and XTERRA CEO Tom Kiely – got together recently to talk triathlon for “The Business Behind : Endurance” blog.

The result is an entertaining QnA that revealed some tasty insight into XTERRA’s background.

When Reilly asked Kiely if he had any idea when it all started that he’d end up with more than 300 events around the world, he replied in part “When we first did Aquaterra in 1996, we just thought it would be another one of our local Hawaii events.”

Of course, as time unfolded that “local event” turned into a full-fledged lifestyle, one that was embraced by thousands of athletes in the Western Cape of South Africa and South Island of New Zealand in just the last couple weekends alone.

Read the full interview here.

Hannah Rae Finchamp

Donovan, Finchamp Honored as USAT Off-Road Triathletes of the Year

Earlier this week USA Triathlon announced JP Donovan and Hannah Rae Finchamp as the amateur athletes selected as the 2014 Off-Road Triathletes of the Year in recognition of stellar performances in trail-based events.

“The off-road triathlon discipline continues to gain popularity, with the International Triathlon Union officially recognizing the format as a world championship event in 2011. USA Triathlon first awarded Off-Road Athletes of the Year in 2014 for accomplishments in 2013. The honor is presented by Garmin, and winners were selected by USA Triathlon’s Age Group Committee,” the release stated.

“The selection committee was very pleased to choose Hannah and JP as the USA Triathlon Off-Road Athletes of the Year out of a deep and competitive field of candidates,” Steve Sutherland, chair of the USA Triathlon Age Group Committee Athlete of the Year Subcommittee. “Off-road triathlon is another fast growing segment of our sport and we are delighted to recognize the accomplishments of these fierce competitors.”

Donovan (Incline Village, Nev.) was the first overall amateur finisher at the XTERRA USA Championship and XTERRA Lake Tahoe. He also raced in the XTERRA World Championship, where he was the top American amateur finisher and eighth amateur overall.

Finchamp (Altadena, Calif.) picked up Off-Road Triathlete of the Year accolades for the second straight year. Competing in the 15-19 age group, Finchamp was the top amateur finisher at the XTERRA USA Championship and XTERRA West Championship, as well as the USA Triathlon Off-Road National Championships and ITU Cross Tri World Championships. She was also the top U.S. amateur finisher at the XTERRA World Championship, where she finished as the eighth amateur overall.

Matthew Balzer (Reno, NV) and Meghan Sheridan (SLC, Utah) were named honorable mention in the release.

Other XTERRA racers worth of note include Rob Ricard, a 37-year-old Naval Architect from Berwick, Maine.  Ricard won his division at all six XTERRA races he entered during the regular season (Jersey Devil, Richmond, French River, Garnet Hill, Sky High, and STOAKED) and he won the overall at five of those events. In June, he took the top spot at the XTERRA East Championship that doubled as the USA Triathlon National Championship.  He was third in his division at Nationals, where he was honored as the ENVE Performer of the Year.

David Duncan won the 15-19 division at the XTERRA West and USA Championships and was the top American (5th overall) in the 15-19 division at XTERRA Worlds.

Rachel Anders, 16, from Sandy, Utah, was the youngest in the field at XTERRA Worlds, where she finished 2nd in the 15-19 division just four minutes behind Hannah Rae (14th amateur overall). Rachel was also 2nd behind Hannah at Nationals (7th amateur overall) and won the 15-19 division at the XTERRA Mountain Championship in Colorado.

Among men in the “Master’s Division” Dennis Farrell won the 50-54 age group at the West, Mountain, and World Championships, and Dennis Brinson was tops in the 55-59 division at the West, USA, and World Championships.

Among master’s women Kathy Waite stood-out. She was a No. 1 fan of triathlon before she ever did one herself just a few years ago. Waite won her division (40-44) and was the top amateur at XTERRA Lory, won her division (2nd overall) at XTERRA Buffalo Creek, and also captured the Mountain and USA Championship titles.

As for “grand masters” a nod to David Rakita, who won the 65-69 division at six XTERRA races including the USA and World Championship. For the women, it’s all about Cindi Toepel, who captured her unprecedented 10th XTERRA National Title this year.

Really though, everyone who gives it a go is an “athlete of the year” in our book!

Braden Currie

Kiwi “King of Adventure” Headed to NSW, Australia

Braden Currie, New Zealand’s new “King of Adventure”, has confirmed he will race at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Callala Beach, Jervis Bay, next month.

The 28-year-old recently captured his third straight win at the de-facto adventure racing world championship – the Speight’s Coast to Coast – which features six stages and 150-miles worth of running, biking, and kayaking from the west to east coast of the South Island in his homeland.

The father of two is also making quite a name for himself in the world of XTERRA and will race back-to-back on the weekends of April 11 in Rotorua and April 18 in beautiful Jervis Bay, approximately two hours south of Sydney.

The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Currie proved that going long on the Coast to Coast isn’t the only thing he’s good at in his first full season racing XTERRA last year.

In 2014 the Wanaka athlete won two majors (at XTERRA Motatapu for the third time and at XTERRA Sweden), was the runner-up at three races (XTERRA Switzerland, France, and Italy), was third at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Australia and the XTERRA Germany Championship which doubled as ITU’s Cross Tri Worlds, and placed fourth at XTERRA Czech.

All of which came a year after his eye-opening 5th-place finish at the 2013 XTERRA World Championship.

This year, he’s looking to improve on all of those results and take the XTERRA World by storm.

“I want to be the World champion in off-road,” said Currie.  “I like the technical and adventure aspect of off-road and I like the atmosphere at XTERRA. It’s a bit more rugged and the racing style is more aggressive than triathlon.”

As for the difference, Currie says, between adventure racing and XTERRA … time.

“XTERRA normally pushes me to my anaerobic threshold for 3-4 hours, while an adventure race normally does that for 11-12 hours. Either way I am smashed at the end, but I enjoy the shorter, sharper, and more technical aspect of XTERRA.”

What’s really interesting about Currie is that he only really just started swimming and biking a few years ago.

“Running has always been my natural strength. I’ve never had technical coaching in any of three of these disciplines but I have learnt a lot from riding and training with the good guys,” said Currie, who includes Kiwi legend Richard Ussher in that category.  “I got into swimming two years ago now and that has gone really well for me and has turned out to be a strength.

“Mountain biking is again, something I only really started doing in the last few years. I have made big improvements but there is still many to be made but now, it’s my favorite discipline.”

Here’s some more insight into the endurance sports star from Wanaka from our recent QnA:

XTERRA: When did your love for adventure sports begin?

Braden Currie: My brother inspired me to do my first Speights Coast to Coast. This is New Zealand’s most iconic endurance event and goes from one side of the South Island to the other. Neither my brother nor I were particularly talented endurance athletes and had no experience, but my brother completed the event and came 24th. That inspired me to want to do better than him and so it all began. That was in 2007.

XT: How did you first learn about XTERRA?

BC: Richard Ussher is someone who has played a big role in inspiring and supporting me to pursue professional sport as a career. Richard came 8th at XTERRA World’s in 2011. I hadn’t heard of XTERRA before then but once I realized there was a world platform for off-road racing, I was pretty determined to get amongst it, and beat Richard of course. I came 17th in my first go at XTERRA Worlds and then 5th the year after. This year I am aiming higher than that, so we will see how it goes.

XT: What was your favorite XTERRA race last year?

BC: XTERRA France was my favorite course: the bike was long and hard and technical, and the run was grunty and tech as well. I came pretty close to staying with Ruben Ruzafa the whole race and finished in 2nd and felt like I had a really good race.

XT: Why have you decided to focus more on XTERRA these last few years?

BC: I want to be the World champion in off-road. I like the technical and adventure aspect of off-road and I like the atmosphere at XTERRA. It’s a bit more rugged and the racing style is more aggressive than triathlon. I have enjoyed improving my technical skills on the bike and will continue to push to improve those skills this year in the USA. I plan to do three championship XTERRA races in the USA, followed by the USA champs and then the Worlds. I’ll be putting it all out there this year and my family will come with me to the USA to support me to do this. We are really excited.

XT: What are your goals this year?

BC: Win Asia-Pacific XTERRA champs; win XTERRA Worlds, win USA XTERRA Champs, win Asia-Pacific 70.3 Champs, and I’m also doing an ITU World cup event in March this year to see how I go.

XT: Speaking of the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship, what did you think about it last year?

BC: It’s a beautiful area, I would have loved more hills and a more technical bike and run, but the swim was beautiful and the competition was great. My wife actually grew up in the Callala Beach area so I had visited before. We have always really enjoyed spending time there. It’s a lot quieter than many beach towns in Australia and the national parks in Jervis Bay are spectacular. You can quite often feel like you are the only people on the beach and the beaches are in my opinion some of the most beautiful in Australia.

XT: What should people know about you?

BC: In the words of Chris McCormack, aka Macca, “I’m here to win”

About the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship (April 18 – Callala Beach, Jervis Bay, NSW)

As the most prestigious event in the Asia-Pacific series that includes championship races in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Guam, Tahiti, and Saipan – the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship will offer $50,000 in prize money to the sport’s top professional athletes and produce a television show for international distribution.

The main event combines a 1.5-kilometer ocean swim at Callala Beach, approximately two and a half hours south on Sydney, with 30-kilometers of mountain biking followed by 10-kilometers of trail running.  The event lures amateur and professional athletes from around the world to New South Wales, and locals flock to the event in pursuit of XTERRA Australia Championship honours.  The off-road sports festival weekend also includes a sprint distance off-road triathlon, trail runs, and relay team competitions attracting more than 500 competitors of all ages.

For more information and links to registration for the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship visit www.xterraasiapacific.com.

The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.  Presenting sponsors include John Paul Mitchell Systems, the world’s largest privately owned professional salon hair care company, Outrigger Resorts – one of the largest and fastest growing privately-held leisure lodging, retail and hospitality companies in the Asia-Pacific and Oceania regions, and XTERRA Wetsuits & Boards Australia – the official swim sponsor.

EPC Tips – Stress Management

STRESS MANAGEMENT

What can create both a positive and a negative response, is something everybody experiences, most people desire less of, and many people struggle to balance? 

The “S” word… STRESS!

Stress Management is our fifth component of our Six Components to Endurance Sport Success. In our daily lives, we experience both physical and emotional stress. As athletes we need stress in the form of “training load” to provide the stimulus from which we can improve. The key to a good training program is one that provides just the right amount of stress; not enough and we stagnate or get stuck on a plateau, too much and we get fatigued, sick or injured. Both too little or too much physical stress leads to an inability to progress or improve in your training. Emotional stress encompasses stress from work, social/family interactions, and general life stress. Deadlines at work, bills piling up, and arguments with a loved one are all examples of the emotional stress people experience in their daily lives. While it’s impossible to avoid all emotional stressors, it is important to keep them to the lowest level possible. The key point here from an athlete’s perspective is that at the end of the day stress is stress, whether it is physical (training) stress or emotional (mental) stress. All stress adds up and contributes to your ability, or inability, to recover from your training and improve your performance.

Combining both your physical stress from your training and emotional stress from your life provides your complete ‘stress score.’

In general, the more stress you have, the more difficult it will be to train, recover, and improve. One of the largest factors that contributes to a professional athlete’s high level of performance is that they are able to organize their life in such ways to minimize their emotional (life) stress while maximizing their physical (training) stress. True ‘professional’ athletes are able to make training and racing their only job, minimizing their financial stress via sponsorships, minimize their social stressors and general life ‘overhead’. Many struggling professionals, up-and-comers, or ‘recreational elites’ must maintain a source of income, balance a family/social life, and maintain a much higher level of emotional stress that make it difficult to compete with the more established professionals. Age-groupers don’t have the luxury of mid-day workouts and time to put their feet up between training sessions. Amateur athletes must make their jobs and families priority number one and two and their sport takes the third or even fourth priority. 4:30am wake-up calls and/or late-night sessions squeezed in around their busy lives is a necessity. Lower training volume is almost always a result, as is also carefully (and often unsuccessfully) balancing the physical stress vs. emotional stress scale to maximize their performance. If your emotional (life) stress is heavy, then your physical (training) stress must be lighter. It all adds up! It’s critical to pay close attention to your stress balance if you want to make continued improvement in your sport.

 As an athlete, I like to look at stress in two ways: chronic stress and acute stress.

Another key piece of stress management is recognizing the different types of stress and their effects on your body. I consider chronic stress as the long term effect applied to your body. This involves your endocrine system and maintaining hormonal balances. The human body releases the hormone cortisol (among others) when under stress. Cortisol is designed to help our bodies manage brief periods of stress, but when we put our bodies under extended periods of stress (through long, hard training sessions (physical), and/or long stressful days at work (emotional)) our endocrine system can overload our bodies with cortisol (and other stress hormones) that can disrupt your body’s natural functions. With elevated cortisol levels you may experience issues including fatigue, inability to recover, slowed tissue repair, digestive issues, weight gain, poor sleep, anxiety, and depression among other things.

How can you improve or lower your chronic stress load?

1. Get More Sleep

Sleep is perhaps the most important stress management tool. Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep everyday is ideal. Often times, in periods of high stress, it is more valuable to skip a workout in favor of more sleep. Under periods of high stress, sleeping can become difficult for many people. Practicing improved sleep techniques like a warm bath, warm drink, and relaxation before bed can assist in improving sleep.

2. Diet & Nutrition

The more you are under stress, the more important a nutritious diet becomes. Eliminate the junk (sugar, fried foods, refined foods, etc.) and maximize the fruits and vegetables should be the the focus points (read my Diet & Nutrition article). Maintaining stable blood sugar throughout the day with small frequent meals will help regulate proper body functions as well.

3. Relaxation Techniques

Practicing yoga, deep breathing, visualization techniques, and simply reading a book can help lower stress levels. Spend time being still and quiet.

4. Sense of Humor & Laughing

Lighten up! Surround yourself with fun people at times and smile and laugh. It’s proven to relieve stress and make you a happier person.

Acute stress is looked at more in the short term. It’s the immediate effect you experience in the hours and days following stressors (specifically physical stress). This is the immediate fatigue you may feel from a training session, or the soreness or stiffness you may experience after a tough workout. High amounts of acute stress can occur by increasing training loads beyond what you are accustomed. These can be planned increased training loads, as in a training camp, or they can be unplanned by doing too much too soon, training too far above your current fitness level. Muscle damage, glycogen depletion, and dehydration can all contribute to high levels of acute stress. Acute stress contributes to increased chronic stress, and if left unaddressed, this increased stress can lead to deep fatigue, illness and/or injury. Always being aware of how you can recover better and more quickly following training sessions will help you get on the right track for managing your acute stress loads. Our saying is to “Take care of your body!” We see too many people willing to spend thousands of dollars on equipment, travel and entry fees, as well as enormous amounts of time in training yet be unwilling to spend some money on their body to keep it happy, healthy and performing at its best.

How can you manage your acute stress load?

1. Follow a Progressive Training Program

Your training must progress gradually to avoid excessive acute stress. Following a training plan or working with a coach that will keep you on track and hold you back if you are a ‘go getter!’ Fitness is a long term commitment and can’t be rushed.

2. Recovery Nutrition

Consuming calories immediately following long and/ or intense training sessions is a critical recovery strategy. There are commercial products on the market designed specifically for this purpose (First Endurance Ultragen being among the best). The key is to include both carbohydrates and protein in adequate amounts to begin the restoration process (see my Diet & Nutrition article for more specifics).

3. Soft Tissue Massage

Massage therapy is helpful for increasing blood flow to damaged muscles and loosening adhesions of soft tissue. Two professional massage sessions a month is a worthwhile investment (weekly is even better, once a month is better than nothing). Daily self-massage (foam rollers, massage balls, massage sticks, etc.) is also time well spent and can be done before bed as part of a relaxation routine.

4. Manual Manipulation

Your body takes a beating with all the training. Take care of your body by visiting a osteopathic physician (D.O.), physical therapist (P.T.) and/or chiropractor to give your body the regular tune-ups it needs. These visits can go a long way to maintaining overall health and keeping injuries at bay.

5. Stretching

While science will say there is no evidence that stretching actually does anything, but most people will agree that, at the very least, it feels good. Unless you are genetically hyper-flexible, including some stretching in your weekly routine will help you stay loose and maintain an effective range of motion. It is another great activity to include in your nightly relaxation routine.

6. Compression

Another controversial technique in the recovery equation. The verdict is still out as to whether compression actually does anything, but if you think it does then go for it! Donning compression clothing post-workouts and pneumatic ‘compression boots’ are two tools to consider including in your recovery routine.

Written by Cody Waite, professional XTERRA athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget. 
 
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