Klutenkamper Is Going for It at XTERRA Illinois Wilds

XTERRA Illinois Wilds is one of Larry Klutenkamper’s favorite races. Last year he was 12th overall and first in his 55-59 age group. This year he is going for another age group win.

“I’m trying for age-group regional champ this year in the hopes of making it to the big show at the XTERRA World Championships,” he said.

The 56-year old Lake St. Louis resident is semi-retired and a full-time athlete and coach.

“My wife and I have had a healthy, active lifestyle for years,” he said. “We have three kids and they’ve all done marathons. My wife is a breast cancer survivor and is doing her 13th Ironman in September. She’s so fast, she’s already qualified for Kona.”

But Klutenkamper’s life wasn’t always like this. In his twenties, his life revolved around partying and drinking.

“Honestly, when I was young, I was an alcoholic and ran around with a really bad crowd. Then I got sober and straightened myself out. Once I embraced triathlons at the smallest level, it changed my life.”

Klutenkamper remembers the moment that shifted his course. Newly sober, he had disbanded from his old drinking friends and partying lifestyle and needed something to fill the void.

“I will never forget this as long as I live. I was coming home from work and was like, you know what, I’m going to look into triathlon. So I went into Fleet Feet, bought Triathlete Magazine fresh off the rack, and went to an Italian restaurant. I ate pasta and read that magazine and I decided this is what I’m going to do.”

Klutenkamper didn’t look back. By the time he was 37, he reached his goal of completing an Ironman.

“But it got to the point where training for Ironman was such a commitment. I was working full time and it was a grind. Training felt like a job. Like, I have to ride. I have to run.”

While in Louisville for his wife’s race, a friend suggested he try mountain biking. Klutenkamper raced motorcycles and dirt bikes as a kid, so his transition was relatively easy.

“I started moving through the ranks of mountain bike racing up to Cat 1, but I really missed triathlons. So a few years ago, I did XTERRA St. Louis and XTERRA Illinois Wilds, and it was a great fit. The community is cool and I get to be out in the woods. Last year, I watched the XTERRA World Championships and thought man, it would be really nice to go there. So this year I decided, let’s go all in on this thing.”

Klutenkamper is focused on sharpening his skills on the bike.

“I gotta tell you, there is a huge difference between road biking and mountain biking. I always call mountain biking a ‘violent effort’ because you go to a corner, you slow down, you take off again, and you’re off, you’re up, you’re around. On a road bike, you basically get on and grind. But mountain biking is really, really fun.”

Klutenkamper approaches training like a science, and even though he is approaching 60, he has found ways to increase fitness while decreasing the risk of injury and retaining his love of the sport.

“My wife and I take more recovery days now. I ride more and run less. We train with heart rate monitors and power meters. And the human body is the most amazing thing. If you cut your finger it will heal. If you drop your iPhone, it’s not going to fix itself. You can spend tons of money on a car or the latest gadget, but really, crossing a finish line is going to bring you more joy. You can’t buy it. You gotta earn it.”

Klutenkamper’s goal is to be at his peak in October for the XTERRA World Championship race.

“I’m so jazzed to be part of XTERRA,” he said. “I was really into the Ironman scene for a while but that ran its course. Now instead of saying, I have to run or I have to bike, I say I get to run. I get to bike. And the races? It’s like a catered workout. Everyone is cheering for you and giving you food. It’s a beautiful thing.”

For more information and to register for XTERRA Illinois Wilds, visit www.wildlifeprairieparksports.

XTERRA Muleshoe June 10th and 11th

On June 10th, the XTERRA Muleshoe off-road triathlon will follow the beautiful trails close to the waters of Lake Travis, just outside of Spicewood, Texas. The cedar-lined trail system includes limestone outcroppings and ledges, hairpin turns, gravel washes, compressed dirt, and rock paths.

“The course will be fast and challenging for all levels,” said race director, Joel Grimmett. “For fun, we’ve included some technical areas, including a couple of off-camber vertical stair steps along the trail.”

The race will begin with an 800 meter swim, followed by 22.5K of twisty, shaded single track. The 6K run will follow a combination of single track, Jeep roads, and gravel.

On Sunday, June 11th, runners will be able to follow the same course in the XTERRA Muleshoe Trail Run. Three distances will be offered: a 6K, a 10.5K, and a 21K.

For more information and to register, visit www.racerevolutions.com.

 

Lockwood, Kelsay Win XTERRA Deuces Wild

Will Kelsay and Kathryn Lockwood took home individual championships at XTERRA Deuces Wild last weekend on a notoriously challenging course in Show Low, Arizona. It was made even more difficult by heavy rains, which provided an extra water crossing during the run section of the course.

“Our lake was so full that the trail was completely submerged,” said race director, Debbie Claggett. “It was basically a second swim.”

Will Kelsay was the overall champ with a time of 1:56:19, about three minutes ahead of John Sarikas, who finished in 1:59:26. Caleb Guest was third in 2:03:32.

This year was all about coming back and having fun, so the goal of this race was to have a good time,” said Kelsay. “I struggled on the swim with the altitude, cold water, and lack of time in the wetsuit, but I wasn’t panicked. The bike went smooth and comfortably for me as I didn’t push 100 percent. After going too hard on the bike and having bad cramps at XTERRA Oak Mountain just out of T2, I decided to back off a bit for this event. It worked perfectly as I felt smooth and comfortable on the run. It does make the race a bit more enjoyable when you aren’t absolutely burying yourself.” 

Like most competitors, Kelsay commented on how challenging this race truly is.

“The run course took a sharp turn and led us down to the lake, where we jumped in for a 50 meter swim across. Spectators were treated to a good view from the hill above as we struggled to make it across. Seriously, try swimming 50 meters with your shoes on. It’s not easy. Once you get out, you have about half a mile to the finish line and your legs feel like total lead. Add in about 30 stairs just 200 meters from the finish line and there wasn’t a racer out there who wasn’t struggling. It was so fun!”

Kathryn Lockwood, who won with a time of 2:19:49, came in about 15 minutes ahead of runner up Melissa Ross, who finished in 2:35:19. Marie Boone was close behind in third with a time of 2:36:33.

This was Lockwood’s first time competing in XTERRA Deuces Wild. In February, Lockwood had corrective surgery for a double hernia and didn’t start running or biking again until March. She was advised to go slowly and her first race of the year was XTERRA Renegade in May.

“XTERRA Deuces Wild was a challenging course with it’s own, unique quirks, like a short swim across a lake inlet at mile 4 on the run,” said Lockwood. “I felt good during the race and very relaxed, despite being at altitude. I had a good swim and found myself  in second place out of  T1, right behind the leader.”  

Lockwood took the lead shortly after she hit the first section of the trail.

“But I knew there were others in the field with more experience that were in chase mode right behind me,” she continued. “I was probably pushing harder than I thought when I took a spill on a sandy down hill of the bike, but didn’t get hurt. On the run I still felt good  -and probably felt just a little too comfortable – when I tripped  over a rock, so got to finish with a bloody knee. But what’s an XTERRA race without a little blood?”

View complete results at www.deuceswildtriathlon.com

McCurdy, Baldini Win XTERRA Gator Terra

Deanna McCurdy and Dane Baldini won the overall championship at the XTERRA Gator Terra on June 4th at DeGray Lake and Iron Mountain in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Baldini completed the 1500m swim, 32K mountain bike ride, and 10K run in 2:49:34, nearly four minutes ahead of runner up Ryan Terry. Marcus Barton was third in 2:55:30.

McCurdy won the women’s division in 3:05:22, more than 10 minutes ahead of Courtney Kaup. Jane Zeigler was third in 3:18:04.

At the XTERRA World Championship last year, Kaup was second overall in the women’s amateur standings and finished about 12 minutes ahead of McCurdy. McCurdy, who won the 40-44 age group at the XTERRA Gator Terra, is having an excellent year so far. Two weeks ago, she was the fastest female amateur at XTERRA Oak Mountain.

“You know what I love about XTERRA?” asked McCurdy. “The races are really just the excuse to get together with friends, share stories and make memories together that we will replay in our heads for years to come. This weekend was full of such great ones. Fred Phillips of DTL Events and his crew took a championship event and made it just that, but didn’t lose the feel of small town grass roots racing that I love. And nothing beats southern hospitality out on the trail.”

For the second year in a row, the XTERRA Gator Terra served as the USA Triathlon Off-Road Championship race.

USA Triathlon published the following race report:

Deanna McCurdy (Littleton, Colo.) and Dane Baldini (Bentonville, Ark.) raced their way to overall titles on Sunday at the USA Triathlon Off-Road National Championships, held at DeGray Lake and Iron Mountain in conjunction with XTERRA Gator Terra.

The course covered a 1500-meter swim, 32-kilometer mountain bike and 10-kilometer trail run. Athletes battled heavy rain and muddy conditions, racing over deep woods single-track featuring steep climbs and descents, large banked turns and more.

McCurdy was the top finisher for the women, clocking in at 3 hours, 5 minutes, 22 seconds to claim the overall win and the women’s 40-44 age-group title. She crossed the line more than 10 minutes ahead of Courtney Kaup (Richmond, Vt.), who placed second overall in 3:16:00 and successfully defended her women’s 35-39 title. Jane Zeigler (Tulsa, Okla.) rounded out the overall podium in third with a time of 3:18:04.

“It was so much fun. Running and biking upstream made for an exciting day,” McCurdy said. “The bike was a blast, it was a roller coaster out there. In Colorado we’re used to climbing for miles and miles, where here it was fast, it was flowy. The run course was fun, splashing through puddles. You just had to be a kid. If you think about how much it hurts and how tired you are, your race is over. But if you just play, it’s an adventure.”

Baldini had the fastest time of the day, with a final time of 2:49:34. In addition to the overall title, he also claimed the top spot in the men’s 30-34 age group. Baldini finished nearly four minutes ahead of runner-up Ryan Terry (West Sacramento, Calif.), who took the men’s 35-39 title in 2:53:33. Marcus Barton (Waxhaw, N.C.) was third in 2:55:30, successfully defending his men’s 45-49 title.

“I’ve been racing here seven years now, and this is the best venue around,” Baldini said. “The single track is fast, there’s a little bit of climbing which helps me out, and man, that run course was perfect for me. A little bit of road, a little bit of dirt. I got a nice lead and made sure second place couldn’t see me – that way they’d have to really pick it up.”

In total, twenty athletes captured age-group off-road national titles at DeGray Lake on Sunday. The top 18 finishers in each age group, rolling down to 25th place after applying the age-up rule, qualify to represent Team USA at the 2018 ITU Cross Triathlon (Off-Road) World Championships. The top-20 off-road triathletes per age group in the USA Triathlon off-road triathlon annual rankings as of Dec. 31, 2017, will also qualify for the World Championships. 

2017 USA Triathlon Off-Road National Champions
1500m swim, 32k mountain bike, 10k trail run
Complete Results

Overall Female: Deanna McCurdy (Littleton, Colo.), 3:05:22
Overall Male: Dane Baldini (Bentonville, Ark.), 2:49:34
M17-19: DeWight Winchester (Bryson City, N.C.), 3:18:23
M20-24: Reiner Guenther (San Antonio, Tex.), 3:03:59
F25-29: Kaitlyn Siebert (Fayetteville, Ark.), 4:20:52
M25-29: Kevin Jett (Columbia, S.C.), 2:57:22
F30-34: Elisabeth Graham (Pea Ridge, Ark.), 4:03:14
M30-34: Dane Baldini (Bentonville, Ark.), 2:49:34
F35-39: Courtney Kaup (Richmond, Vt.), 3:16:00
M35-39: Ryan Terry (West Sacramento, Calif.), 2:53:33
F40-44: Deanna McCurdy (Littleton, Colo.), 3:05:22
M40-44: Fernando Lopez (Houston, Tex.), 3:12:50
F45-49: Debra Monroe (Gypsum, Colo.), 4:01:21
M45-49: Marcus Barton (Waxhaw, N.C.), 2:55:30
F50-54: Patricia Smaldone (Portland, Ore.), 3:43:15
M50-54: Andrew Kelsey (Irving, Tex.), 3:08:36
F55-59: Wendy Ewing (Shalimar, Fla.), 3:52:47
M55-59: Cliff Millemann (Davis, Calif.), 3:12:53
F60-64: Lucia Colbert (Cordova, Tenn.), 3:52:27
M60-64: Scott Ewing (Shalimar, Fla.), 3:16:51
F65-69: Cindi Toepel (Pahrump, Nev.), 4:23:42
M65-69: Walt Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 4:04:13

 

XTERRA Warrior Ron Hill racing into 80+ Division

Ron Hill didn’t start running to compete in marathons. He began running so he could race motorcycles. Little did he know that decades later, he would win his age group many times at the XTERRA National and World Championships.

“This was the late 1970’s,” he said. “I was racing two-wheeled machines over rough terrain across the California desert. It was such a physically demanding sport, that if you weren’t in shape, you could die. In one race, I was exhausted after 15 miles because the heat got to me. And I was stranded in the middle of nowhere.”

Determined to not let that happen again, Hill began running one mile, three times a week. “It made such a fantastic difference,” he said, “So I started running a mile a day.”

By the following year, Hill had his mileage up to 30 miles a week. “Our offices would shut down at lunch because everyone was out running a 10K. It was contagious.”

By 1978, Hill was running marathons at six-minute mile pace. “Running kept me fit enough to stand up on the pegs of my bike and really put the hammer down.”

Hill swam in high school, he learned to run in the 1970’s, but he still didn’t know anything about riding a bicycle until 1993, after his family moved to Idaho.

“My sons came home from college and said, ‘Dad, you have to get a mountain bike. You have to do this thing called downhill racing.’ Well, I was a little apprehensive, but I tried it. And lo and behold, I won the race. It turned out, I was pretty good at that.”

For the next decade, Hill competed in downhill and cross-country races on his mountain bike until both local race promoters closed their businesses.

“In 2005, I saw there was an XTERRA off-road triathlon in McCall, Idaho (now XTERRA Wild Ride). I realized I could ride a bike now, so I entered. It was so much fun I decided to train harder and do it again the following year.”

In 2006, Hill competed in XTERRA Wild Ride again, XTERRA La Grande, and the XTERRA National Championship, where he won his age group. “They invited me to the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, and I said, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’”

By the time he won his age group the following year, his son insisted he go to the World Championship race in Maui.

Hill was 70 at the time. Next month, he’ll turn 80. In the past ten years, Hill has enjoyed a friendly rivalry with  Costa Rican athlete Nathaniel Grew, encouraged members of his hometown cycling team to train for and qualify for the XTERRA World Championship, and watched his own sons compete in XTERRA events.

He has had hard times as well. Last year, Bobbi, his wife of 53 years, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm while they were traveling in Texas.

“I haven’t been the same since,” Hill said. “She came to all the races and we went everywhere together.” Bobbi was beloved by everyone at XTERRA and was the most cherished person at the finish line, where she often volunteered.

In 2012, Hill had a horrible crash on his bike that resulted in a crushed pelvis.

“In XTERRA Worlds in 2012, I was having a terrific race. Nathaniel usually caught me on the bike, but that year he didn’t. I kept thinking he would get me, but with less than a mile from the finish I clipped a tree with my shoulder.”

Hill landed so hard on his right side that his femur bone went right into his pelvic socket and shattered his pelvis.

“The pain was so bad I told God he had to turn it down a notch or knock me out. I thought I had broken my back so I pulled myself uphill by my elbows to relieve the pressure.”

Hill was taken by medevac flight from Maui to Honolulu where he had surgery immediately.

“I spent two and a half weeks in Honolulu doing rehab just so I could get on an airplane to go home.”

Hill worked diligently at physical therapy and was able to walk and swim again after four months. A month later, he was back on his bike.

“My focus has always been to heal quick and get back out. I never thought I should quit. The only question was, how long was it going to take to get back?”

When asked if he was afraid to get back on a bike again, Hill replied, “Afraid of what? I figured even if the bike leaned towards my weak leg, it was strong enough by then to hold it up.”

That September, Hill competed in the XTERRA National Championship and won his age group. And in October, he returned to Maui and not only raced on the course that caused him so much pain just 12 months earlier, but won his age group again.

At the Night of Champions Awards Dinner, XTERRA President, Janet Clark called the 18 athletes to the stage who were 65 and older.

“Janet gave a great speech about honoring the “kapunas,” or elders of XTERRA. As we started to walk off, she said, ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute. The XTERRA Warrior this year is one of the kapunas.’ I wondered who among us could have done anything to earn that award. I just started looking at everyone and realized I didn’t know what any of these guys have done. Then, as soon as that thought left my head, I saw all of these photos of me pop up on the screen.”

Telling the story, Hill becomes choked up, as he was that night.

“When I saw the doctor for my follow-up appointment, he couldn’t believe my progress. I carried the ribbons from all of my races and from the XTERRA Warrior award and he was just dumbfounded. He expected me to come in on crutches or with a cane. He kept telling me I lived in rarified air. And it’s true. I have God in my corner. No question about it.”

Father and Son Train for XTERRA Whitewater

Jake Higgins discovered running when he was eight and his parents were going through a divorce. “My dad moved away and I was going through a tough time,” said Jake. “I just felt better after I ran.”

Now a 16-year old junior at Jesse C. Carson High School in North Carolina, Jake recently completed his first XTERRA in Myrtle Beach with his father. They both finished in the top 25 percent.

“Track meets can get a little boring,” said Jake, who is the fastest 800-meter runner and miler in his school. “But it’s fun to travel to the woods and race. I have a lot of hobbies but I always come back to running on the trails. For one thing, I get to be out in nature. For another, I know that when I’m having a rough time running, I can dig in and keep pushing and I’ll get there.”

Lesley Paterson, two-time XTERRA World Champion, believes that triathlon is as much a spiritual practice as it is a sport. “Triathlon is so much more than swimming, biking, and running. It’s a microcosm of life. In XTERRA, you are always outside your comfort zone. But bit by bit, as you achieve, you gain so much self-respect and self-confidence.”

Jake’s father, Jon Higgins, agrees. “Triathlon takes a lot of training and you usually aren’t going to be good at it right away. It’s our job as parents to build our kids’ spirits so they can eventually do it on their own.”

Jake relies on the support of his friends and teammates but he is primarily self-motivated. His goal is to go to North Carolina State and major in engineering. “I want to bring my ACT score up a bit, but I’m not quitting track to study. Running is such a good stress reliever that I’m more motivated to study after practice or working out. When I run, I actually do better in school.”

“My roots are mountain biking and trail running and I’ve always done that with Jake,” said Jon Higgins. “He has always been my little buddy, and if he’s on the trail with me, I get to hang out with him. I decided to provide him with the gear and the encouragement so we can keep riding together.”

Jake says that his father’s support is important to him. “I know my dad supports me 100 percent. It makes me want to do my best,” said Jake who also admits that his father can be stern. “My dad definitely pushes me and even though it’s annoying sometimes, it helps me. Whenever I go to the skate park or go surfing, he says, ‘That’s not going to make you faster,’ and I think, ‘I’ll show you!’”

Jon Higgins admits that training with your teenager can sometimes be challenging and surprising. “He just started XTERRA. This was his first one so I kept telling him to ride and run but instead, he took a job giving surf lessons and went skateboarding with his friends I kept telling him to focus and he kept saying, ‘I’ll show you.’ Well, he certainly did! He’s a natural.”

Jake’s advice to other parents is to not be too harsh. “But don’t be too easy on your kids either,” he suggests. “You have to help your kids find their niche, but you also have to figure out what makes them want to work for it. If your kids aren’t reaching their goals, just try something different.”

“I love that Jake shares my interest in being outside,” said Jon. “Probably my favorite thing right now is to be able to hang out with him on runs or biking on the trail. I’m super proud of him. He’s doing great in everything and hopefully, he’ll take this forward into the rest of his life.”

Both Jake and Jon are planning on doing XTERRA Whitewater in July and are thinking about XTERRA Oak Mountain next year. “He could beat me in XTERRA Whitewater,” admits Jon. “But I’m going to try really hard not to let that happen.”

Jake is a bit more relaxed about racing than his father. “My dad is big on setting goals,” he said. “But instead of setting a goal or getting anxious about it, I just say, ‘I’m going to run as hard as I can.’ Then I go run as hard as I can.”

Learn more about the XTERRA Whitewater at usnwc.org

Blackard, Grieser Win XTERRA Rock Dallas

Despite strong winds and high humidity throughout the race, the first annual XTERRA Rock Dallas featured incredible performances.

Michelle Blackard competed the 800 meter swim, 13.1 mile mountain bike, and 3.1 mile run 2:14:29.  Kyle Grieser won the men’s division in 1:49:03.

Michelle Blackard shares her experience on the course. She was the first woman out of the water and led for the entire race.

The wind didn’t bother me, in fact, I thought the swim was really fun. It was choppy but it felt like I was surfing.

The bike course is really technical but I love it and felt confident since it’s my home course. The number one issue was the heat and humidity. Without question it was the most disgusting day of the year so far. I mean, really, really gross. I am prone to cramping so I drank about 12 ounces of straight pickle juice as well as 60 ounces of Scratch on the bike. I had to keep my effort level really in check so that I wouldn’t blow up and cramp – I was determined have a good run. The only bummer was that I had to hold myself back. I wanted to ride harder.

The run was awesome and I was glad I paced myself on the bike. I lost a few minutes on the bike to my competitors, but it was worth it to have a strong run. When I ran out of transition, I saw the 2nd place female coming off the trail on her bike, so I knew she was only three or four minutes behind me. That might seem like a lot but in hot weather, you can blow up so bad  that you can’t even move because of the cramping. So, I felt like I needed to hustle. 

The run was fun because I felt strong and just kept feeling stronger the longer I went. It was really motivating to pass the men that had passed me on the bike.

 The way I felt on the run is the whole reason runners run. It was one of those rare days where you just feel this incredible unicorn magic. That feeling will carry me through all the long, hot summer months to come because it won’t always feel so great. The run was only three miles, but I won’t forget that feeling for a long time! 

The race organizers and volunteers were incredible. The course was perfectly marked and there were a ton of course marshals out at the weird intersections. Free pancakes, bacon, and snacks at the finish were delicious!

View complete results at www.racedirectorsolutions.com

 

XTERRA Comes to Knoxville June 3-4

The XTERRA Tennessee Trail Running Series and the XTERRA Knoxville Off-Road Triathlon are coming to Knoxville, TN on June 3rd and 4th for a fun filled race weekend at Ijams Nature Center, near downtown Knoxville. 

“Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness presents a unique urban playground for mountain bikers, trail runners, rock climbers, and paddling enthusiasts alike,” said race director, Ryan Roma. “The stunningly beautiful Ijams Nature Center and Mead’s Quarry provide the perfect backdrop for XTERRA Knoxville with many miles of natural surface trails connecting five parks along with public and private lands.”

Proceeds from the XTERRA Knoxville weekend will help Ijams Nature Center in keeping the trails beautiful, our waterways clean, and nature untouched. 

The XTERRA Knoxville Half Marathon and 4.6 Mile Trail Run will explore some of the best single track trails that Knoxville has to offer. Winding through the Urban Wilderness, runners will encounter plenty of rocks, roots, and climbing to test their grit. The half marathon, a singe loop course, will take participants through all five parks, featuring the old quarries and hills of East Tennessee with a perfect balance of neighborhood backyard feel. The 4 mile trail run highlights the wooded forests of South Knoxville and ends with a challenging climb around Mead’s Quarry. 

The XTERRA Knoxville Triathlon will begin with a mass start from Mead’s Quarry. Swimmers will navigate a one lap swim course (.75 miles) inside the bluffs of the quarry before exiting for transition.

The bike course (16.6 miles) starts from the gravel parking lot at Mead’s Quarry and heads down a paved bike trail for nearly a half mile before funneling down into single track trails. The trails vary from technical single track to moderate jeep roads and contain a little bit of everything.  There are plenty of opportunities to pass other bikers throughout the bike leg. There is a brief segment of neighborhood road riding after the bike aid station, which will allow spectators to line the course and cheer on the athletes.

The run course (4.6 miles) heads in the opposite direction from the bike course, and will lead runners past the bike finish. A moderate run for the first half of the course yields to a much tougher finish. Runners will start an out and back loop before heading back past transition for the final stretch. A punishing climb around Mead’s Quarry will then bring runners back down towards the finish line.

In last year’s triathlon, Caleb Baity won the men’s race in 2:29:38 and Katie Rowinski won the women’s race in 3:35:12.

Brad Higdon won the trail half marathon in 1:55:57 and Karen McNeany won the women’s division in 2:08:28.

For more information, visit www.dirtybirdevents.com

Photo Credit: Alba Barton

Ruzafa, Poor win XTERRA Portugal

Reigning XTERRA European Tour Champions Ruben Ruzafa of Spain and Brigitta Poor from Hungary captured the fourth-annual XTERRA Portugal Championship race in Golega this afternoon.

The win is the 27th of Ruzafa’s career, his fourth of the season, fourth straight in Portugal, and third-in-a-row on the European Tour. For Poor, it’s her third win of the year and in the other two races she finished runner-up to Helena Erbenova.

Highlights / Live Coverage

In the men’s race Ruben Ruzafa broke away from a pack of four at about 7km into the bike and never looked back, crossing the line with a winning time of 2:33:46.

Yeray Luxem and Francois Carloni were together for much of the bike, however, Luxem pulled away on the run for a solid 2nd-place finish, with Carloni two-minutes back in third, last year’s overall amateur XTERRA World Champ turned pro Xavier Dafflon in fourth and Xavier Jove Riart in fifth.

ELITE RESULTS (TENTATIVE)

Pl Name, NAT Time Points
1 Ruben Ruzafa, ESP 2:33:46 75
2 Yeray Luxem, BEL 2:37:23 67
3 Francois Carloni, FRA 2:39:02 61
4 Xavier Dafflon, SUI 2:39:41 56
5 Xavier Jové, ESP 2:40:25 51
6 Rui Dolores, POR 2:41:08 47
7 Mattia De Paoli, ITA 2:43:57 43
8 Dominik Wychera, AUT 2:45:38 39
9 Wolpert Hannes, GER 2:48:23 36
10 Llewellyn Holmes, GBR 2:48:51 33
11 Alejandro Tenorio, ESP 2:58:29 30
12 Rafael Gomes, POR 2:59:05 27
13 Octavio Vicente, POR 3:19:52 25
Pl Name, NAT Time Points
1 Brigitta Poór, HUN 3:00:48 75
2 Carina Wasle, AUT 3:04:18 67
3 Helena Erbenová, CZE 3:05:43 61
4 Maud Golsteyn, NED 3:13:08 56
5 Ladina Buss, SUI 3:13:23 51
6 Rocio Espada Vazquez, ESP 3:21:16 47
7 Sheila Azevedo Marques, POR 3:38:49 43

In the women’s race it was all Brigitta Poor right from the start.  Her strong swim gave her a lead she would never relinquish, and she crossed the line in 3:00:48, more than three-minutes ahead of runner-up Carina Wasle.

Helena Erbenova, who won this race last year, came in third at 3:05:43, with Maud Golsteyn in fourth and Ladina Buss in 5th.

Here’s some more insight from XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas:

We’ve been blessed with great weather for the first third of the European Tour and today was exceptional.  Portugal was hot for practice days and this is a course is tough enough without temperatures in the 90’s.  Race day morning was cloudy and cool.  No rain in sight but the drop in temps were well received.

Golega is a very laidback village with neat hotels and lots of good restaurants. This kind of atmosphere plus the great work Jaime Rosa and his crew have done makes it a wonderful experience.

The water temp was 24C so it was a no wetsuit race except for those over 50.  The layout is a long up and back on a small river for 750m.  You exit the water, run up a cut out in the bank, run onto a half dam, half bridge and dive back in to start your second lap.  Hannes Wolpert was the clear winner of the swim, but surprising everyone were Francois Carloni and Ruben Ruzafa who have clearly improved their swim speed.  Carloni dove into the second lap on top of Ruzafa.  “I love the non-wetsuit swim and I’m always stronger” said François.  Ruben was only 10″ behind coming into T1.

By the “new” bridge at the 5K mark, Wolpert had a big lead with Tiago Maia second but Carloni and Ruben were already pushing through the field with Yeray Luxem coming on strong.  By 8K the lead 4 were together and Luxem had closed more.  In Spain last week Xavier Jove’ finished 2nd.  Jove’ is the ETU cross duathlon champ and can clearly bike and run.  At this point he was behind over 3 minutes.  Xavier Dafflon, top age group finisher at Maui last year is a mountain biker.  He had lost over 5 minutes in the swim, but this course is flat and open for the first 8K and Dafflon was able to pass heaps of riders before getting to the single track, technical pieces.

For the women, Brigitta Poor took the lead from the swim and never let it go.  Carina Wasle challenged and got within 30 seconds but dropped back.  Then she would challenge again, but the Hungarian woman was simply too strong today.  Ladina Buss had a good 3rd for a while, Maud Golsteyn was 4th and Helena Erbenova back 3 minutes after a poor swim.  “I felt good everywhere today” smiled Brigitta.  Obviously the 2 weeks after Spain helped heal the injuries she got there.

At the 15K mark, Ruzafa had pulled away and Carloni and Luxem were working together to keep him in sight.  “I had a strong bike today and Yeray and I rode really good together” said Francois.  Tiago Maia flatted, but Portugal buddy Rui Delores was riding really well and was up into 5th.  Jove’ had carved his way into 7th and Dafflon, while still back, was not in the top 10.

Out of T2 Ruben had 2′ on François and 2’15” on Yeray who had a flat near the end of the bike, but did not lose him a lot of time.  Amazing Xavier Dafflon had ridden himself up to 4th but was more than 5′ behind Ruben and 3′ behind Luxem.   Xavier Jove was 5th, Rui Delores now 6th, Hannes 7th.

Brigitta had 2 minutes on the tiny Carina.  Helena was up to 3rd but was 4’ behind.  These trails are flat and fast and although on certain courses both Carina and Helena can post very fast run times, it would be difficult to do that in Portugal.  Carina again closed to under a minute and Erbenova was running well but looked tired.  Ladina was in 3rd and Maude in 4th.

“I got within 30 sec on Ruben at one point” said Luxem “but I started feeling a bit tired and had to drop back.  I knew I could push hard and close more, but maybe only for 500m.  It was better for me to stay strong and finish second today”.

Carloni is coming into his strong season.  “It is May and this is where I really feel my training is coming good”.  Indeed, his swim was good, his bike very strong and today his run was good enough to keep his 3rd place.  “But these two guys behind me!  If they learn to swim I am in trouble” he laughed.  Yes, indeed our two Xavier’s were closing in on the Frenchman finishing 4th and 5th.  Dafflon even put in the fastest bike split of the day.  Both he and Xavier Jove have committed to the XTERRA season and we will see them many times over the next months.  Rui Delores had his best day and upheld the colors of Portugal to take a fine 6th in front of our Italian pro Mattia De Paoli.

Brigitta kept her cool to take a solid wire-to-wire victory.  Carina held 2nd and speedy Helena Erbenova could not get it done today but was very happy with 3rd.  Maude Golsteyn caught Ladina going into the last 4K to take 4th with Buss just 20 seconds behind in 5th.

The awards and after party in the village park are simply wonderful.  Each top 3 get a laser etched Portugal cork medal to the applause of hundreds of spectators.  Big, juicy pork sandwiches on hearty bread, a drink and a sweet are on sale for 4 euros and cold beers are 1 euro each.  Needless to say almost all the athletes enjoyed the evening.  The Mayor and the city council were all in attendance and on Sunday we’ll have a sprint distance tri for local folks and nearly 300 kids participating in XTERRA races at the park.  This is a full Portuguese festival with something for everyone.

XTERRA EUROPEAN TOUR ELITE STANDINGS

With his win today Ruzafa jumps into the pole position on the XTERRA European Tour, with Carloni right behind in 2nd and Roger Serrano and Yeray Luxem tied for third.

In the women’s chase Poor remains in the top spot with three wins and two runner-ups, followed by Erbenova who has won two, was second at Malta and third in Portugal today.  Maud Golsteyn sits in third, followed by Morgane Riou and Carina Wasle.

The next stop on the XTERRA European Tour is XTERRA Belgium on June 10, followed a week later by the inaugural XTERRA Finland in Imatra on June 18.

2017 XTERRA EUROPEAN TOUR PRO POINTS STANDINGS
After 5 – 5.27

Division Name Hometown
15-19 Will Stacey Nashville, TN
20-24 Caleb Baity Huntersville, NC
20-24 Joshua Looney Vinemont, AL
25-29 Humberto Rivera Chula Vista, CA
25-29 Donald Davis III Jacksonville, FL
30-34 Brett Tack Boulder, CO
30-34 Tyler Harbin Madison, AL
30-34 Jesper Smith Pensacola, FL
35-39 AJ Petrillo Blue Ridge, GA
35-39 Geoffrey Whitfield Decatur, GA
35-39 Gabriel Piriz Kent, OH
40-44 David Dornaus Wayland, MA
40-44 Michael Dorr Avon, CO
40-44 Patrick Clark Virginia Beach, VA
45-49 Marcus Barton Waxhaw, NC
45-49 Karl Stover St Louis, MO
45-49 Keith Schumann Williamsburg, VA
50-54 Darren Cox Toano, VA
50-54 Andrew Kelsey Irving, TX
50-54 David Ciaverella Happy Valley, OR
55-59 Ali Arasta Asheboro, NC
55-59 Cliff Millemann Davis, CA
60-64 Thomas Monica Thousand Oaks, CA
60-64 Ian Davidson Clemson, SC
65-69 Frank George Rome, GA
65-69 Alan Moore Ada, MI
70-74 Dale Vaughan Macon, GA
WM S S S S S S S G G S S S G S G
Pl Name, NAT TOTAL MLT CYP GRE ESP POR BEL FIN SUI FRA ITA NOR POL GER SWE DEN
1 Brigitta Poor, HUN 359 75 75 67 67 75
2 Helena Erbenova, CZE 278 67 DNS 75 75 61
3 Maud Golsteyn, NED 159 56 DNS 47 DNS 56
4 Morgane Riou, FRA 123 DNS 67 56 DNS DNS
5 Carina Wasle, AUT 118 51 DNS DNS DNS 67
6 Cecila Jessen, SWE 100 39 61 DNS DNS DNS
7 Rocío Espada, ESP 98 DNS DNS DNS 51 47
8 Kathrin Mueller, GER 89 33 DNS DNS 56 DNS
9 Anna Pauline Sasserath, GER 79 36 DNS DNS 43 DNS
10 Nicole Walkers, GBR 61 61 DNS DNS DNS DNS
11 Miriam Casillas Garcia, ESP 61 DNS DNS 61 DNS DNS
12 Sara Bonilla, ESP 61 DNS DNS DNS 61 DNS
13 Daz Parker, GBR 56 DNS 56 DNS DNS DNS
14 Marika Wagner, SWE 51 DNS 51 DNS DNS DNS
15 Isabelle Ferrer, FRA 51 DNS DNS 51 DNS DNS
16 Ladina Buss, SUI 51 DNS DNS DNS DNS 51
17 Kristina Lapinova, SLK 47 47 DNS DNS DNS DNS
18 Aina Picas, ESP 47 DNS DNS DNS 47 DNS
19 Louise Fox, GRB 43 43 DNS DNS DNS DNS
20 Renata Bucher, SUI 43 DNS DNS 43 DNF DNS
21 Sheila Marques, POR 43 DNS DNS DNS DNS 43
22 Marta Menditto, ITA 30 30 DNS DNS DNS DNS

 

2017 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING SERIES SCHEDULE

XTERRA Portugal was the 19th of 41 events where amateur athletes from around the world can qualify to race at the 22nd annual XTERRA World Championship in Maui on October 29.

Date
Race
Elite Winners or Location
Feb 25
Richard Murray / Flora Duffy
Mar 4
Dougal Allan / Josie Wilcox
Mar 18
XTERRA Saipan + Silver
Sam Osborne / Carina Wasle
Mar 25
Gonzalo Tellechea / Suzie Snyder
Apr 1
Kieran McPherson / Renata Bucher
Apr 1
XTERRA Chile # Silver
Felipe Barraza / Barbara Riveros
Apr 2
XTERRA Malta * Silver
Roger Serrano / Brigitta Poor
Apr 8
Sam Osborne / Jacqui Allen
Apr 9
Josiah Middaugh / Suzie Snyder
Apr 16
Ruben Ruzafa / Carina Wasle
Apr 23
Bradley Weiss / Carina Wasle
Apr 23
XTERRA Cyprus * Silver
Yeray Luxem / Brigitta Poor
Apr 29
Osborne,Allen,Weiss,McPherson/Wasle
Apr 30
XTERRA Greece * Silver
Ruben Ruzafa, Helena Erbenova
May 6
Sam Osborne / Jacqui Allen
May 13
XTERRA Brazil # Silver
Felipe Moletta / Sabrina Gobbo
May 14
XTERRA Spain * Silver
Ruben Ruzafa / Helena Erbenova
May 20
Josiah Middaugh / Suzie Snyder
May 27
Ruben Ruzafa / Brigitta Poor
Jun 10
Namur
Jun 17
Milton, Ontario, Canada
Jun 18
Imatra
Jun 24
Vallee de Joux
Jul 2
Xonrupt
Jul 9
Victoria, B.C., Canada
Jul 15
Beaver Creek, CO, USA
Jul 30
Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy
Aug 5
Tapalpa
Aug 5
XTERRA Norway * Silver
Norefjell
Aug 6
Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Aug 12
Quebec City, Canada
Aug 12
Ontario, Canada
Aug 13
Barahona
Aug 13
XTERRA Poland * Silver
Krakow
Aug 19
Zittau
Aug 26
XTERRA Sweden * Silver
Hammarbybacken, Stockholm
Aug 26
Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
Sep 2
XTERRA Japan + Silver
Hokkaido
Sep 3
Mons Klint
Sep 16
Ogden, Utah, USA
Oct 29
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 and xterracontent.com.