Guam Trail

XTERRA Guam Celebrates 10th Year

Back in 2005 athletes in Guam banded together to producer their own off-road tri, dubbed the “Xticer.”  It was the start of something big.  The next year they made the race an official XTERRA event, and two years ago race director Eric Tydingco rallied the local community to transform into a World Tour Championship stop, complete with $15,000 in pro prize money and qualifying spots to Maui for amateurs.

“The 10th anniversary of the XTERRA Guam Championship is truly a milestone,” said Tydingco. “We have an amazing group of both professional and amateur athletes that have signed on for the event, which gives Guam lots of international exposure and really puts our island on the map as a fantastic destination for international sporting events.”

Nearly 130 professional and amateur athletes representing 11 countries are set to compete in next Saturday’s XTERRA Guam Championship, presented by Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB) and PIVOT LLC.

“XTERRA Guam served as my introduction to the sport of off-road triathlons in 2011,” said Charlie Epperson, a Guam-based XTERRA pro who just finished 4th at the XTERRA Philippines Championship. “It is an amazing landscape and community-supported event. A must-do race for all triathletes and adventure racers.”

Dan Hugo and Renata Bucher, winners of the XTERRA Philippines Championship, enter as race favorites.

“Guam treated me really well last year, and I’m pleased to be returning for a second time to have another shot at winning here,” said Hugo. “Beyond [the race], I’ll be spending two weeks on Guam in total and hope to get to know a lot of it.”

Of note, last year’s Guam champs Ben Allen and Jacqui Slack will be competing in Australia on the same weekend.

The course begins at Port Authority Beach with a 1.5-kilometer swim, followed by a 35- kilometer mountain bike up Nimitz Hill, into the technical terrain of Mt. Aluton, then down through Mannengnon Hills. Competitors will then return to the transition point at Port Authority Beach to begin the 8.2-kilometer trail run through jungle rivers and slippery waterfalls.

“I’m racing XTERRA Guam for the third time, and every time it is a new challenge,” said Carina Wasle from Austria. “It’s so much fun riding through the red sand, with its flowy and technical ups and downs. On the run, there are some surprises, like the waterfall, which is my favorite part.

ALL-TIME XTERRA GUAM CHAMPIONS
Year Men Women
2006 Courtney Cardenas Jamie Whitmore
2007 Olivier Marceau Julie Dibens
2008 Andrew Noble Mieko Carey
2009 Sam Gardner Julie Dibens
2010 Sam Gardner Renata Bucher
2011 Sam Gardner Mieko Carey
2012 Ben Allen Renata Bucher
2013 Ben Allen Jacqui Slack
Camp Eagle

Camp Eagle Kicks Off Texas Series

Eleven-time XTERRA South Central Region Champion Kyle Grieser from Marble Falls, Texas highlights a stacked amateur field of competitors for the first race in the Texas Series at Camp  Eagle in Rocksprings, Texas on Saturday.

“There are a lot of fast guys and girls on the list,” said race director Joel Grimmett.  “In addition to Kyle we have Josh De Bois Blanc and Adam Reardon. We also need to watch out for Mike Carter, Steve Etherton and Andy Lee in the masters age groups and they are all fast guys.  For the women Melanie Etherton leads the charge.”

Grimmett changed the start time for this year’s race after dealing with some gnarly weather last year.

“It was wild.  The wind picked up about 2am and the temperature dropped to 30-degrees making for a cold, cold start to the day. It influenced this year’s noon start time,” he said.

Camp Eagle is notorious for its swim, a two-level affair with ladders to climb in the middle.

“The swim and the run are very technical with lots of ledges, climbing and loose rock,” explained Grimmett, who is now in his fourth-year producing XTERRA races in Texas.

New this year is a series-within-a-series.

“We created an additional point structure for the five XTERRA’s in Texas, with the goal of getting people out to different venues. Often people may only attend the one closest to their home, so the idea was to encourage discovering different venues and we do have some cool prizes in the works for the series winners,” said Grimmett.

Learn more at racerevolutions.com.

hugofeatured

Hugo, Bucher win XTERRA Philippines Championship

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(Liloan, Cebu) – Dan Hugo (29, Stellenbosch, South Africa) and Renata Bucher (36, Lucerne, Switzerland) captured the 4th annual XTERRA Philippines Championship on a steaming hot day at the seafront of Barangay Jubay in Liloan (Cebu Province) on Saturday.

Ben Allen, who won the last two XTERRA Phil titles and 9-of-10 races in the Asia-Pacific region since 2012, took the early lead with the days fastest swim split (18:57).  Brad Weiss and Dan Hugo were 2nd and 3rd out of the water about one-minute back.

By the end of the first-of-two laps on the bike course Allen had crashed and flatted twice allowing Hugo and Weiss to move up front.

“On the treacherous volcanic descent I misjudged a line between some rocks and it bucked me completely off my bike into the lantana. I had a lot of speed and I felt like a superman flying through the air,” explained Allen.  “Luckily I managed to grab a couple of trees to slow me down mid-flight. That’s when Dan passed me, but I managed to quickly dust myself off and jump straight back on and continue to the fight.”

At the swim-to-bike transition Hugo had a commanding 7-minute lead on Weiss and the only question was if his ankle – that he rolled so badly in his XTERRA South Africa Championship win three weeks ago it tore his anterior talofibular ligament – would hold up.

Not only did Hugo’s ankle hold, he posted the fastest run split of the day to boot.  It’s Hugo’s third straight XTERRA win of the season (to go with titles at Buffelspoort and the SA Champs) and the 9th XTERRA Championship title of his career.

Fellow South African Bradley Weiss finished 2nd, a career-best performance.  Cebu’s own Joe Miller finished 3rd overall to win the Filipino Elite Division.  Allen, who carried on despite his misfortune on the bike, placed fourth overall – third pro.

Charlie Epperson, who was born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of east Tennessee but now lives in Guam and serves as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, finished 5th overall/4th pro in his first race as an XTERRA Pro.  The pride of Malaysia Sharom Abdullah rounded out the pro podium.

In the women’s race Bucher captured the XTERRA Phil crown for the second time in three years but it wasn’t easy.  Jacqui Slack led out of the water and through the first lap of the bike before Bucher took over.

The “Swiss Miss” had the fastest women’s bike split by far (it was fourth best overall behind only Hugo, Weiss & Miller) to take a big lead onto the run.  It nearly wasn’t big enough, however, as Austrian Carina Wasle – who had the fastest run of the day – caught and passed Bucher toward the end of the run but “then almost fainted 300-meters from the finish and Renata re-passed,” explained XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas.

Bucher took the tape in 3:24:59, 19 seconds ahead of Wasle for her 32nd career XTERRA Championship victory.  Reigning and 4x XTERRA Japan Champion Mieko Carey finished 3rd, Slack was 4th, Aussie Dimity-Lee Duke was 5th in her XTERRA debut, and Daz Parker placed 6th.

Pro Men



Pl Name Time Swim Bike Run
1 Dan Hugo, RSA 2:48:48 19:56 1:43:26 45:26
2 Brad Weiss, RSA 2:56:39 19:51 1:50:37 46:11
3 Ben Allen, AUS 3:21:52 18:57 2:11:17 51:38
4 Charlie Epperson, USA 3:30:07 24:03 2:09:19 56:45
5 Shahrom Abdullah, MAS 3:32:58 28:32 2:12:44 51:42
Pro Women



Pl Name Final Swim Bike Run
1 Renata Bucher, SUI 3:24:59 23:48 2:03:31 57:40
2 Carina Wasle, AUT 3:25:18 24:08 2:08:48 52:22
3 Mieko Carey, JPN 3:27:34 23:24 2:10:29 53:41
4 Jacqui Slack, GBR 3:29:19 22:08 2:08:03 59:08
5 Dimity-Lee Duke, AUS 3:42:16 24:59 2:24:02 53:15
6 Daz Parker, GBR 3:46:45 25:27 2:21:18 1:00:00

COMPLETE RESULTS

Here’s the story of the day according to “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas…

The 4th edition of the XTERRA World Tour stop in Cebu, Philippines was typical, which means fabulous.  I was delayed with mechanical problems, planes being changed and other horrible experiences and only arrived the day before the event.  It had rained hard that day and while the sun and a nice breeze had dried up most of the water, there were still a few muddy places.

Racing starts early in the Philippines to avoid the humid, hot afternoon weather.  Organizers had changed the course for the better this year.  Last year was the first at the new location in Liloan and the Mayor Duke Frasco, helped enormously in getting permission to have T2 and the finish on the mountain side of the major road we crossed 4 times last year.  While their patience showed the great spirit of the Filipino people, we created a huge traffic jam in 2013 and wanted to avoid that this year.  T2 and the finish were located in the yards of the local elementary school – problem solved.

At 6:58am the pros started with the full field just two minutes later at 7:00am.  The shorter course riders went into the sea at 8:00am and the chase was on.

Ben Allen easily led the swim followed by South Africans Bradley Weiss and Dan Hugo.  For the women Jacqui Slack held the lead.  While the air temp was not super hot – about 84° – the humidity was pouring out of the wet ground and you could feel it.

Ben flatted early on the first lap giving the lead to Hugo and Weiss who were in tight formation.  Ben flatted again – and then once more on the second lap, but last year’s champion is a fighter and he never considered quitting.  Bradley Weiss could feel his rear derailleur binding a bit and backed off to make sure he did no damage to it and could finish.  This gave a clear lead to Hugo while Weiss kept control of 2nd and Filipino pro Joe Miller rode quickly in 3rd.  For the women, Jacqui led the first lap with Swiss Renata Bucher making time quickly.  Renata passed Jacqui on the 2nd lap to lead into T2.  Carina Wasle looked in great form in 3rd and Guam/Japan Mieko Carey was smiling and seemingly not affected by the heat.

Dan turned in a solid run and was never threatened on his way to his 3rd straight victory of the year.  Brad Weiss was a bit pained but came in with a solid lead over Miller.  Ben kept going and pulled himself up to 4th overall.

It was quite different for the women.  Renata came out first on the run by a few minutes over Jacqui Slack with Carina Wasle and Mieko very close in 3rd and 4th but another two-minutes minutes back.  The tiny Austrian Carina had returned to the form that won her races a few seasons ago and she blitzed the run early on catching Jacqui and finally passing Renata for the lead.  But her energy ran short by about 500m.  To cross a high cement wall that effectively split the run course – organizers built a great ramp up and over the wall that was a busy spectating area.  On the return, after crossing of the bridge, one must go up a rocky dirt path for about 150m.  On a normal day, without having pounded yourself for hours, this hill would not be a challenge.  But on this day, after a hard race in harsh conditions it was heartbreak hill.  Carina crossed the bridge first but I could see her walking the hill from side to side, clearly wobbly from exhaustion.  Near the top of heartbreak, Renata caught her, but she did not look all that strong either.  The final few hundred meters were a true test of will.  Renata won by just 20 seconds with Carina 2nd.  Mieko ran a fast pace and passed a tired Jacqui, for 3rd.

Another great event.  The Filipino spirit simply needs to be experienced to understand.  Thousands of spectators at all the interesting places over the bike and run, riding through small villages and through people’s yards, past cows and goats and chickens, it’s just amazing.  Nobody leaves here without a big smile and great stories.

Some of the pros took to twitter and Facebook after the race, here’s what they had to say:

Women’s winner Renata Bucher

What a race!  What a super warm day here in beautiful Cebu. Raced with all I had. Just made it to the finish line a couple of meters in front of Carina and got the happy win. Congrats to all the finishers. Thanks for an awesome event.

Men’s winner Dan Hugo

Big shout out to all twitter mentions, and all who make an effort to see results first thing. Thanks for the support and interest. Just back to hotel, reception and aircon. Scorched day, happy day.  Got it done alongside @BSWeiss_Tri.  Ankle held up. So relieved. Bang.

2nd Pro Woman Carina Wasle

2nd place at XTERRA Philippines! It was an amazing course with lots of cheering kids! What a finish! After 3h 25 Renata had more power in the end and just finshed some seconds ahead of me. Congrats to all XTERRA warriors!

3rd Pro Woman Mieko Carey

Finished XTERRA Cebu happy to finish 3rd, but more happy is I survived with this heat. Congratulations to Renata and Dan for 1st and all of the XTERRA Warriors in Cebu. And. thank you to organization and volunteers. The local people on the course made me feel like a rock star!

Ben Allen, 4th overall, third Pro

Happy days.. A gnarly crash & a couple of flats, but fought on for my family, friends and awesome sponsors and still managed to finish 3rd! Thanks @XTERRAPhils You guys ROCK!  Sometimes you have good days and sometimes you don’t, that’s racing!

XTERRA PHILIPPINES ALL-TIME PRO WINNERS
Year Men Women
2011 Sam Gardner Shonny Vanlandingham
2012 Ben Allen Renata Bucher
2013 Ben Allen Lesley Paterson
2014 Dan Hugo Renata Bucher

2014 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING EVENTS

The XTERRA Philippines Championship was the third of 37 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the globe could qualify to race at the 19th annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on October 26, 2014.  Up next, more exotic locales with XTERRA Guam, Great Ocean Road in Australia, and Costa Rica on March 29 & 30.

Date Race Location
23-Feb XTERRA South Africa Grabouw, Western Cape
8-Mar XTERRA Motatapu South Island, New Zealand
15-Mar XTERRA Philippines Championship Cebu
29-Mar XTERRA Guam Championship Piti
30-Mar XTERRA Great Ocean Road Angelsea, Victoria, Australia
30-Mar XTERRA Costa Rica Playa Reserve Conchal
5-Apr XTERRA Saipan Championship Northern Marianas
12-Apr XTERRA New Zealand Championship Rotorua
13-Apr XTERRA West Championship Lake Las Vegas, Nevada
26-Apr XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia
3-May XTERRA Malaysia Putrajaya
17-May XTERRA Southeast Championship Pelham, Alabama
24-May XTERRA Mauritius Bois Cheri
25-May XTERRA Spain Championship Cieza, Murcia
1-Jun XTERRA Portugal Golega
8-Jun XTERRA Brazil Championship Ilhabela, Sao Paulo
15-Jun XTERRA East Championship Richmond, Virginia
21-Jun XTERRA Greece Lake Plastira
28-Jun XTERRA Switzerland Championship Vallee de Joux
29-Jun XTERRA Norway Horten
5-Jul XTERRA Ontario – Canadian Cross Tri Championship Milton, Ontario, Canada
6-Jul XTERRA France Championship Xonrupt, Gerardmer
6-Jul XTERRA Victoria British Columbia, Canada
6-Jul XTERRA Freedom Fest Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii
13-Jul XTERRA Sweden Hellasgaarten
19-Jul XTERRA Mountain Championship Beaver Creek Resort, Avon, Colorado
20-Jul XTERRA Ireland Killaloe, County Clare
26-Jul XTERRA Italy Championship Abruzzo, Scanno
2-Aug XTERRA Mexico Championship Tapalpa, Jalisco
9-Aug XTERRA Czech Championship Prachatice
16-Aug XTERRA Germany Championship Zittau
17-Aug XTERRA Canmore Alberta, Canada
24-Aug XTERRA England Cranleigh, Surrey
31-Aug XTERRA Denmark Tisvilde
31-Aug XTERRA Quebec Lac Delage, Quebec, Canada
7-Sep XTERRA Sleeping Giant Thundery Bay, Ontario, Canada
20-Sep XTERRA USA Championship Ogden/Snowbasin, UT
26-Oct XTERRA World Championship Maui, Hawaii
Flora Duffy

The Rise of Flora Duffy

After her first-ever XTERRA race last year at the Mountain Championships in Colorado Flora Duffy wasn’t sure she ever wanted to do another one.

“I did really enjoy the vibe at the race and how friendly everyone was though, so that helped keep the door open,” said Duffy, who finished 6th that day.  “And, since I qualified for Maui, figured I had to give it a go.”

It’s a good thing she did.  Duffy finished third overall at the XTERRA World Championship, just five seconds behind two-time World Champ Lesley Paterson.

“I loved racing in Maui. The course, the place, the people, it was a great event. I think a combination of my performance at Maui and training with Dan Hugo and Brad Weiss inspired me to pursue XTERRA.”

So from “never-again” to “nearly a world champ” Duffy’s pursuit of XTERRA led her to South Africa for some training and racing which ultimately resulted in a second-place finish at XTERRA Buffelspoort, then the XTERRA South Africa Championship on February 23.

“It was awesome to win at Grabouw,” said Duffy.  “It is a huge race in South Africa and receives quite a lot of media attention, which made winning it quite attractive.”

Even more impressive was how Duffy did it, overcoming a flat early on the bike with the defending champion Carla Van Huyssteen hot on her heels.

“I had never flatted in a race before and didn’t exactly know what to do,” recalled Duffy. “I managed to keep calm though, fix the flat, and not lose too much time.”

Beyond the big win Duffy says her experience in South Africa inspired her to do more.

“My three months in SA was amazing. I was based in Stellenbosch training and living with Dan and Brad. Training with those two everyday inspired me to ride my mountain bike and pursue XTERRA. Stellenbosch is a beautiful little town great for training. The town offers an amazing lifestyle because it is safe, pretty, there are loads of great places to eat, copious amounts of vineyards to visit, and of course there is Jonkershoek – a nature reserve which offers miles of great trails for riding and running. The weather in hot and sunny, and the people are friendly, it is the perfect place to train or visit.”

With the added experience riding a mountain bike, Duffy will most certainly cause trouble for the competition this season.

“You need to be a solid mountain biker for XTERRA, and I am still learning how to handle a mountain bike well,” said Duffy.  “I suppose my strong swim helps because it allows me to put a few minutes on the other girls right from the start. That and I think being an all-around athlete that tends to never give up suits the XTERRA format. Ideally though, I’ll learn to ride my mountain bike well then I’ll be a lot more confident going into an XTERRA.”

In 2014 Duffy plans to race all of the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series events, starting with the West Championship at Lake Las Vegas, Nevada on April 13.

“I’ll do the XTERRA U.S. Series, the Lifetime Fitness Series and a few ITU events, it’s a mix bag of everything to keep it interesting.” said Duffy, who will also race at the Commonwealth Games in July as part of her drive to become a three-time Olympian (she represented her home country of Bermuda at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic Games).

“Rio 2016 is the big picture goal. I will dedicate all of 2015+2016 to the ITU circuit in order to gain points and qualify for the Olympics.”

Until then, Duffy plans on improving on her 3rd-place showing in Maui and wants to “really enjoy beating most of the men out of the water at XTERRA : ) “

Ben Allen

Allen Aims for 3-Peat in the Philippines

Race No. 2 of the XTERRA Asia-Pacific tour takes place Saturday in Cebu at the 4th annual XTERRA Philippines Championship race where the big question is … can anybody stop Ben Allen?

The Aussie sensation is the undisputed King of the Asia-Pacific series of races over the past two seasons.  He’s won 9-of-10 APAC majors since capturing XTERRA Guam in ’02, and is shooting for a 3-peat in the Philippines (he’ll be going for 3-in-a-row in Saipan, Guam, and New Zealand this year too).

“I love this race,” said Allen from Cebu. “The Filipino people have been so kind to me since I first arrived three years ago. This is my third XTERRA and I am ready to give it my all and show all my family & friends how hard I have been training during the Aussie summer in preparation for the XTERRA World Tour. I  know Cebu very well now – from where to eat to where to shop (Jacqui) to where to train – and would almost call it my second home.”

XTERRA South Africa Champ Dan Hugo leads the list of candidates to steal the crown from Allen but he rolled his ankle and tore his anterior talofibular ligament in his victory at Grabouw three weeks ago so will likely have to race well within his limits – especially considering his ambitious schedule in the coming months (read more). Fellow South African Brad Weiss is next in line, having finished third behind Allen and Hugo at Guam and Saipan last year.

Czech standout Jan Kubicek and the pride of Malaysia Shahrom Abdullah should be in the mix as well, along with a pair of all-star amateurs-turned-pros Michal Bucek from Slovakia and Charlie Epperson representing Guam.

The women’s pro race in the Philippines revives the APAC rivalry (friendly as it is) between “the Swiss Miss” Renata Bucher and Jacqui Slack from the UK.  Jacqui won the first two head-to-head battles last year at Saipan and Guam while Renata came out on top at the last three in Australia (Great Ocean Road), New Zealand, and Malaysia.  Several other familiar faces will toe the line including XTERRA Japan Champ Mieko Carey, Carina Wasle from Austria, Daz Parker from the UK, plus XTERRA rookie pro Dimity-Lee Duke from Australia.

You can expect to be hearing a lot about that core group of elites as they race their way through the region towards the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship at Jervis Bay, NSW on April 26.

Learn more at XTERRAPhil.com

Photo: Emmanuel Villaruel

OUTMaruitius_ext

XTERRA Mauritius Presented by Outrigger Mauritius Resort and Spa, Added to 2014 World Tour

XTERRA Outrigger Hotels and ResortsHonolulu, HI (March 13, 2014) – TEAM Unlimited LLC, owners and producers of the XTERRA World Tour, has added the XTERRA Mauritius off-road triathlon presented by Outrigger Mauritius Resort and Spa to the 2014 schedule of XTERRA World Championship qualifying events.

The inaugural race on the island nation situated in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa is slated for May 24, 2014 at the Bois Cheri Tea Estate bordering the mountainous Black River Gorges National Park.

“We’re excited to join forces with XTERRA to bring a World Tour event to the island of Mauritius,” said Mark Simmons, Outrigger’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Asia Pacific. “The Outrigger Mauritius Resort and Spa is the premier resort on the island and uniquely equipped to welcome XTERRA’s active adventure traveler.”

Tim and Marie Cartwright, local organizers for the event, described Mauritius as a tropical paradise, “famous for its spectacular beaches, turquoise lagoon and lush, green mountains.” The race itself is set in a working tea plantation and the colonial gardens of the estate where deer and wildlife roam free.

“The swim takes place in the crater of an extinct volcano surrounded by beautifully managed tropical gardens and overlooked by the tea rooms – a popular tourist attraction,” said Tim Cartwright.  “The mountain bike course is a mix of jeep road and technical single tracks, taking in much of the Mauritius MTB Championship course.  On the run athletes will find lots of ups and downs, a couple of water crossings, single track climbs and technical descents.  For me it is the most varied, beautiful and challenging terrain I have had the pleasure to run upon.”

XTERRA Mauritius will offer prize money for professionals and 15 qualifying spots into the XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui (October 26) for the top amateur finishers.  There will also be relay team competitions and a kids triathlon on offer.

“Known primarily for her beaches and luxury hotels, this is a chance for everyone to discover the other side of Mauritius – and be welcomed by a passionate and friendly off-road community,” said Cartwright, who organizes live bands, food and entertainment for the family friendly after-party gathering.

The race supports the local non-profit organization Get Active! whose mission is to harness the proven power of sport to tackle social exclusion, physical inactivity and health issues.

Travelers fly into the newly rebuilt SSR International Airport on Mauritius which greets flights from the U.S. via European hubs in Paris, London, and Frankfurt as well as a wide variety of options from across the Asia-Pacific region.

For more information and to register visit www.xterra-mauritius.com.

About Outrigger Enterprises Group

Outrigger Enterprises Group is one of the largest and fastest growing privately-held leisure lodging, retail and hospitality companies in the Asia-Pacific and Oceania regions and continues to expand its presence throughout the area. A family-owned company with 66 years of hospitality experience, Outrigger runs a highly-successful, multi-branded portfolio of hotels, condominiums and vacation resort properties, including Outrigger® Hotels and Resorts, OHANA® Hotels and Resorts, Embassy Suites®, Holiday Inn®, Best Western®, Wyndham Vacation Ownership® and Hilton Grand VacationsTM. Currently, Outrigger operates and/or has under development 46 properties with approximately 11,000 rooms located in Hawaii; Australia; Guam; Fiji; Bali; Thailand; Mauritius, Vietnam; and Hainan Island, China. Outrigger Enterprises Group also operates and develops hotel properties and hospitality-related retail and real estate opportunities for partners in Hawaii, the Pacific, and Asia. For on-line information, log on at www.outriggerenterprisesgroup.com and www.outrigger.com.

Nicky Samuels

Currie, Samuels win XTERRA Motatapu

A pair of Wanaka-based Kiwis – Braden Currie and Nicky Samuels – took the top spots at the 2014 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour season-opener at XTERRA Motatapu in the South Island of New Zealand last weekend.

Samuels, the reigning XTERRA World Champion, led the women’s race from start-to-finish and broke the course record she set last year posting a winning time of 4:17:10 (Note: This race is longer than your typical XTERRA, combining a 2km swim in Glendhu Bay at Lake Wanaka with a 47km Mountain Bike and 15km trail run over the historic Miners Trail course).

The “Swiss Miss” Renata Bucher placed 2nd and Lizzie Orchard finished 3rd.  The win is Samuels’ third XTERRA win in as many attempts.

For Currie, who lives just 15 minutes from the race start, the victory marked his third XTERRA Motatapu crown in a row.  His first-ever

“We had amazing weather, perfect race conditions,” said Currie, an adventure racer by trade who got his XTERRA career started in Motatapu back in 2012.

Currie led the men’s race from start to finish (although Samuels beat him out of the water), with Olly Shaw taking 2nd and Axel Reiser finishing third (top amateur).

Full Results

Nicolas Lebrun

Another Hall for Lebrun to Roam

2005 XTERRA World Champion Nico Lebrun, the most recent inductee into the XTERRA Hall of Fame, was similarly honored at the Italian Triathlon Awards last weekend.

Lebrun was awarded “Cavaliere del triathlon” which loosely translates to Knight of Triathlon, for his lifetime achievements in the sport.

“It’s a very nice honor,” said Lebrun, who graced the podium in three different sports (XTERRA, Duathlon, Winter Triathlon) more than a dozen times in his career.  “I was a world champion for the first time in winter tri in Italy, and I raced a lot in Italy.”

Lebrun won three XTERRA European Tour titles in his career and captured the XTERRA Italy Championship in 2012.  After XTERRA Worlds in October Lebrun retired from professional racing and shifted his focus to coaching and assisting with the XTERRA European Tour.

“It’s really hard to be retired,” said Lebrun.  “Now I’m managing a team of 45 athletes, 15 of whom are part of a personal training group including XTERRA athletes Asa Shaw, Nienke Oostra and Rory Downey. I will start in Greece next weekend to work for XTERRA Euro tour, I have to go back to school to be an official coach in France, and I’m starting a new race organization to produce a two-mile trail run with 3,300-feet of climbing.  So, lots of work and almost everything around XTERRA community…you’re not rid of me yet!”

USA Triathlon Honors XTERRA Best in 2013

Earlier this week USA Triathlon announced the 2013 Off-Road Triathletes of the Year, “honoring athletes for outstanding performances on challenging courses featuring an open water swim, mountain bike and a trail run.”

Josiah Middaugh and Emma Garrard were named the Elite winners, Matthew Balzer and Hannah Rae Finchamp took amateur honors, and Cole Bunn and Liz Gruber received honorable mention.

It’s the first-time USAT – the National Governing Body for triathlon in the United States – has recognized XTERRA’s finest.

In the press release issued by USAT (read it here) Steve Sutherland, chair of the USA Triathlon Age Group Committee Athlete of the Year Subcommittee, said that “Off-road triathlon is one of our fastest-growing areas of multisport. As you might imagine, it attracts some highly competitive athletes.  We are very pleased to honor the best of those competitors as our Off-Road Triathletes of the Year.”

The release continued to say that “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.”

Of note, the 2014 XTERRA East Championship in Richmond, Virginia (June 15) will serve as the USAT Off-Road Championship race and XTERRA Germany in Zittau (August 16) will double as the ITU Cross Tri World Championships.

The Off-Road Athletes of the Year were selected by USA Triathlon’s Age Group Committee.  Here’s a look at the top three candidates in each category the committee had to choose from…

Pro Men

Josiah Middaugh (Vail, CO) – Won XTERRA West, Southeast, and Mountain Championships. Became the first American to win the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series since 2006, was 2nd at Nationals (top American) and 4th at Worlds (top American for 6th time).

Branden Rakita (Colorado Springs, CO) – Posted a career-best 2nd place finish at the Mountain Champs.  For the season he placed 3rd at the XTERRA West Championship, 6th at the Southeast Champs, 9th at the East Champs, 11th at XTERRA France, 2nd at the XTERRA Mountain Championship, was 9th at the USA Champs, finished 3rd in XTERRA U.S. Pro Series, and placed 22nd (4th American) at XTERRA Worlds.

Ryan Ignatz (Boulder, CO) – Had a career-best runner-up performance at the East Champs.  On the year he placed fourth at the XTERRA West Champs, 2nd at the East Champs, 5th at the Mountain Champs, 10th at the USA Champs, finished 4th in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series, and was 16th (2nd American) at XTERRA Worlds.  Making his season more impressive, he works full time as a bike fitter at Colorado Multisport and is also a fit instructor for Retul.

Pro Women

Emma Garrard (Park City, UT) – Less than a year after giving birth to her first child in December 2012 Emma posted a career-best fifth place finish (and first American) at XTERRA Worlds, which followed her career-best fourth-place finish at the XTERRA USA Championship where she was also the top American. Emma got consistently faster in 2013, going from a 7th place finish at the West Champs, to a 6th at the Southeast Champs, then a 5th at the Mountain Champs before breaking out in Utah and Maui.

Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, CO) – Shonny worked her way back to the sharp end of the pro field in 2013 having fully recovered from knee injuries that plagued her last year.  At 44-years-old Vanlandingham captured the XTERRA Brazil and Mountain Championships and the XTERRA USA National Championship title for the fifth time in six years (the honor is bestowed upon the top American finishers in the final XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Standings).  On the year Shonny finished 3rd at the XTERRA South Africa Championship, won XTERRA Brazil, placed 3rd at XTERRA South Africa, 3rd at the West Champs, 4th at the SE Champs, and 2nd at the East Champs before capturing the XTERRA Mountain Championship for the fourth time in five years.  She placed 2nd at the XTERRA Mexico Championship in August, and was 9th at the USA  Championship. She finished 2nd in the Pro Series, and 8th (2nd American) at XTERRA Worlds where she posted the fastest bike split for the fifth time in her career.

Suzie Snyder (Fredericksburg, VA) – Placed second at the XTERRA West Championship, 5th at the Southeast Champs, 6th at the East Champs, 4th at the Mountain Champs, and 7th at the USA Champs.  Finished 5th in the Pro Series, and was 10th (3rd American) at XTERRA Worlds.

Note: Lesley Paterson has lived in San Diego for nearly a decade now, but still, she’s a Scottish lass! If USAT were to consider her American, she’d be a ringer.

Best Amateur Men

Matt Balzer (Reno, NV) – Matt wasn’t just the fastest amateur in the 30-34 division at the USA Championship race, he was the fastest of all amateurs.  Balzer, a former pro who know dedicates more time to his 5-month-old, 8-year-old, wife, and business than training, still managed to finished 12th overall and more than a minute in front of young gun Cole Bunn in Utah. Matt went on to finish third in his division at XTERRA Worlds.

Alex Modestou (Washington, D.C.) – The 27-year-old won an unprecedented seven races in 2013 and to make it even more impressive he captured the overall at five of those.  Modestou won the amateur title at the XTERRA East Championship in June where he was 10th overall ahead of several pros, and in July he came from the East Coast to test himself in the thin air of the Rockies and placed 9th overall – top amateur – at the XTERRA Mountain Championship.  He was not able to participate in the USA or World Championships due to illness.

Cole Bunn (Bettendorf, IA) – The 17-year-old won the overall at XTERRA Last Stand and Illinois Wild this year and was second amateur (13th overall) at the USA Championship behind only Matt Balzer.  Amazingly, while Bunn was 4th in the 15-19 division at XTERRA Worlds, he was just 17 seconds shy of being America’s fastest amateur in Maui (that honor belongs to Jens Beck from Anchorage).

Best Amateur Women

Hannah Rae Finchamp (Altadena, CA) – The 17-year-old senior in high school (4.4 GPA) won her division at every race she entered and finished a remarkable sixth overall behind only the top five pro women at the XTERRA West Championship, was 9th overall ahead of several pros at the Mountain Championship in July, won the 15-19 XTERRA USA Championship for the third straight year, and was the top amateur woman at the World Championships for the second straight year with a time good for 11th overall.

Elizabeth “Liz” Gruber (Redding, CA) – The 23-year-old student at Loma Linda won the XTERRA USA Championship overall amateur women’s title and won her division at XTERRA Worlds for the second straight year (she was 5th amateur woman).

Anne Gonzales (Aspen, CO) – The 52-year-old won the national and world championships in her division and was the second amateur behind Finchamp at XTERRA Worlds.

Worthy of Consideration

There were three amateur men who won six races during the course of the XTERRA America Tour highlighted by 11-time South Central Region Champion Kyle Grieser from Marble Falls, Texas.  Also of note, Marcus Barton won six-of-seven (and the USAT off-road Nationals) and George Mainas won six-of-eight.

For the women both Melanie Etherton and Cindi Toepel had perfect six win seasons, and Etherton won the overall at five of those (as well as the USA off-road Nationals).  Not to be out done, Toepel won the overall at XTERRA Iron Creek this year, at the age of 62!

Reigning XTERRA 40-44 World Champ Mimi Stockton had a stellar season as well, winning the overall at all five races she entered, including a head-to-head showdown with Etherton at the Southeast Championship. She also won XTERRA Worlds for the second straight year.

Ron Hill won the 75-79 XTERRA World Title and was named the Warrior Award Winner in Maui having come back from a brutal crash the year before.  Michael Hagan finished as the 9th amateur overall at the USA Championship (won the 50-55 division) with a time that would’ve been fast enough to win the 20-24, 40-44, and 45-49 division too. Tom Monica won his fourth XTERRA National Championship (55-59 division) and his fifth XTERRA World title. Lucia Colbert won the 55-59 division XTERRA USA and World titles for the second straight year. Craig Vogstberger won his third national championship in Utah and was 2nd in the PC division at Worlds, and John Royson won his first 60-64 USA Championship title and fourth XTERRA World Title.