Dan Hugo

Hugo, Duffy win XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship

Results | Photo Gallery

(Callala Beach, NSW, Australia) – Dan Hugo and Flora Duffy captured the inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship on a beautiful day at Callala Bay in Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia on Saturday afternoon.

“It was a great win for Dan Hugo and perhaps his coming of age as a bona fide international superstar,” said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas.  “He has had 2nd-place finishes at XTERRA Worlds, wins at various places around the globe, but he broke the back of a stellar field today in Australia that marks his first big win.”

The 28-year-old from Stellenbosch, South Africa is quick to agree…“Great to win a championship, probably my first of this stature, it’s been a while coming.  I grew up knowing Australia as the pinnacle of triathlon, where are all the legends are from, so to win in my first race here is special.” said Hugo, who has now won four XTERRA majors this season.  “It’s beautiful when it all clicks, and make no mistake this course suits me down to the ground. It was super technical to ride this course quick and it had some power climbing. I loved the bike course, it was so fun, and you just don’t get to see Kangaroos very often.”

Everybody agreed on that point, that the course was epic, even four-time XTERRA World Champ Conrad Stoltz.

“The whole race is phenomenal and very well designed. There is a lot of really good single track and it’s well balanced.  I loved this course and was super excited to race here.  Even the run is great,” said Stoltz, who pulled out of the race at the bike-to-run transition while in 2nd place due to fatigue from a lingering cold that didn’t shake.

“I’m super disappointed I couldn’t put in a proper performance because I would love to do this race justice. It’s a big race, has a TV show, big money, just look how the Aussies crawled out of the woodwork, that’s good for the sport.  But when you’re racing at the level we’re racing at if you’re not 100%, well…”

Indeed, the inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship featured a $50,000 pro purse, two internationally distributed TV shows, and a big-time field worthy of the attention.

“Biggest championship until Maui, really, and for us as professional athletes we so appreciate New South Wales for putting up the incredible pro purse, so to come out here to show gratitude and elevate the sport was super important, and to be on the top step is really special,” said Hugo.

The day started with two-time Olympian Courtney Atkinson from Australia putting a minute into the field in the water, but that lead was quickly taken away…

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

A group of riders with Hugo, Ben Allen, and Roger Serrano bridged the gap to Atkinson within the first few kilometers of the bike, then Hugo “chose a line through a mud section and that was it.”  He got some daylight and drove a wedge between himself and the rest of the field from there.

By the bike-to-run transition Hugo had three minutes on Serrano and Allen, and roughly six minutes to Braden Currie, Bradley Weiss, and Courtney Atkinson.  Atkinson showed off some amazing foot speed by picking off everyone in front of him but Hugo with the fastest run split of the day by far.

“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 starting thinking about winning the XTERRA Australia title and pushed,” said Atkinson, who finished three minutes, 48 seconds behind Hugo for 2nd place.

Currie, who finished 5th at XTERRA Worlds last year, stayed with Atkinson for about 8K “but just couldn’t hang in there at the end.”  Still a great effort, especially considering he competed in an adventure race in China last weekend.

Hugo’s mate and fellow South African, Bradley Weiss, had another under-the-radar amazing performance by placing 4th overall – his sixth top four finish this year (which include three runner-up showings).

Hometown hero Ben Allen held on for fifth to a rousing applause at the finish line.  Allen is beloved in this part of the world (he grew up about an hour away in Wollongong) and he put a ton of effort into hosting and pre-race promotion.

“It’s a win, even though I didn’t win,” said Allen.  “It’s so great to see the race go off so well, and the community get involved, and everybody is happy.  Jacqui and I, my family, we love the sport and the people and wanted to do our best to welcome the XTERRA Tribe to Australia.  The day came out amazing.”

Allen also made special effort to tell of how Weiss kept him moving after he passed him towards the end of the run.  “He just told me keep going and kept my spirits up.  It’s just classy to have guys like that in the sport.”

Brendan Sexton, an Aussie Olympian making his XTERRA debut, finished sixth on the day and came away with some stories for sure.

“It was an experience, definitely different from anything I’ve done before but I had a great time, it was really fun,” said Sexton, who took a spill that took some skin off his arm.  “Those boys are in a different league, so I just kind of let them go and did my own thing.  Tried to stay upright but was unsuccessful.  I got through it though. You could say I’m hooked, I definitely would like to prepare better next time but certainly enjoyed it enough to come back again.”

Pos Name, Country Time Swim Bike Run
1 Dan HUGO, RSA 2:19:01 0:18:35 1:11:24 0:47:26
2 Courtney ATKINSON, AUS 2:22:49 0:17:45 1:18:11 0:45:25
3 Braden CURRIE, NZL 2:23:46 0:19:17 1:16:12 0:46:40
4 Bradley WEISS, RSA 2:24:09 0:19:06 1:16:18 0:46:52
5 Ben ALLEN, AUS 2:25:35 0:18:29 1:15:02 0:50:53
6 Brendan SEXTON, AUS 2:25:57 2:25:57
7 Oliver SHAW, NZL 2:30:30 0:21:00 1:18:33 0:49:11
8 Alex REITHMEIER, AUS 2:31:45 0:18:40 1:23:01 0:48:16
9 Jarad KOHLAR, AUS 2:35:01 0:22:35 1:17:41 0:53:04
10 Craig EVANS, USA 2:36:39 0:18:53 1:19:30 0:56:52
Also: Joshua Kenyon, Joseph Miller

DUFFY DOMINATES THE WOMEN’S RACE, WINS BY SEVEN MINUTES

For the women it was another amazing performance by Bermudian Flora Duffy who finished far ahead of XTERRA World Champ Nicky Samuels and placed 9th overall.  Samuels was first woman out of the water and an equally amazing 2nd overall out of the swim.  Jacqui Slack put together three solid legs of swim/bike/run that netted her 3rd woman.  XTERRA Saipan winner Carina Wasle 4th and the “Swiss Miss” Renata Bucher 5th.

“It all came together,” said Duffy, who won the XTERRA West Championship two weeks ago and has clearly solidified herself as the woman to beat this year.  “I felt great coming into T2 after a really tough bike course and just hammered the first 2K of the run.  I just focused on my turnover because I knew Nicky is a strong runner and I wasn’t sure how far behind she was.”

Samuels was just about four minutes back at the bike-to-run transition, but coming off a cold and without the power she had hoped to put up a worthy fight.

“Having been sick for a week, to finish in 2nd is a great result,” said Samuels.  “I’m not so good on the single track and this race was fast, and a bit technical through the bush and over trees.  Having been racing World Series for nine years I can’t expect to be riding a mountain bike that well, so am justly happy for the result.”

Slack was the third woman out of the swim more than two minutes back and hoping to catch Duffy and Samuels by T2 but it wasn’t in the cards.

“I couldn’t have done much better so really happy with the effort,” said Slack.  “It’s great to have such talent in the field and keeps the drive going to get faster and stronger.”

Renata Bucher had the second-best bike split of the day behind Duffy but Wasle was able to catch her on the run to take the fourth spot.

The entire field echoed the same sentiment, that New South Wales is a special place.

“This area is gorgeous,” said Duffy. “Growing up in Bermuda I’m kind of a beach snob, so it takes a lot for a beach to impress me and I can tell you it’s gorgeous here, that white sand and water is beautiful.  I really enjoyed the swim and seeing Kangaroos, it definitely felt like Australia.”

Pos Name, Country Time Swim Bike Run
1 Flora DUFFY, BER 2:33:07 0:18:28 1:22:28 0:50:24
2 Nicky SAMUELS, NZL 2:40:07 0:18:26 1:26:14 0:53:49
3 Jacqui SLACK, GBR 2:44:29 0:20:53 1:25:56 0:56:01
4 Carina WASLE, AUT 2:46:58 0:22:56 1:27:46 0:54:12
5 Renata BUCHER, SUI 2:51:19 0:22:52 1:23:49 1:03:08
6 Lizzie ORCHARD, NZL 2:56:24 0:23:21 1:34:59 0:56:10
7 Mieko CAREY, JPN 2:57:27 0:22:57 1:30:21 1:02:20
8 Dimity-Lee DUKE, AUS 2:58:13 0:23:07 1:34:42 0:57:46
9 Jody MIELKE, AUS 3:20:49 0:22:49 1:40:55 1:13:55

NEILSON, SIMPSON WIN AMATEUR CROWNS

Daniel Neilson and Jessica Simpson were the top overall amateur finishers, and they (along with the fastest amateurs in each division) were named XTERRA Australia National Champs and awarded a qualifying spot into XTERRA Worlds for their efforts.

“Altogether a fabulous first XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race,” said Dave Nicholas.  “The location is superb, the trails got high marks for great riding and fun and the organization was excellent.  Toss in a few dozen Kangaroos, big, loud Cockatoo’s flying all over, Kookabura’s cooing in the woods, spicy meat pies and strong beer and you have the start of a classic event for years to come.”

As always there were stories galore, said Nicholas…Yank Craig Evans got confused on the bike; “there were two small lakes on the bike.  The first you rode around and the second you blasted straight through.  I got to the first one and slammed in then saw the side trail out of the corner of my eye and said Oh S * * T.  Next thing I knew I was totally underwater when the front wheel sank and I went over the bars.  Never unclipped and on my back in 2′ of water with the bike on top of me.”

There’s more to a great event than just the racing.  A great pasta party the night before and a better after party at the Callala RSL. Sunny but cool weather and a race start at 11am add to the pleasure. Just a few hours south of Sydney, you really need to think about coming Down Under to see the sights and have a great race to cap it off.

2014 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING EVENTS

The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship was the 10th 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, XTERRA Malaysia next weekend.

Date Race Location / Pro Winners
23-Feb XTERRA South Africa Dan Hugo / Flora Duffy
8-Mar XTERRA Motatapu Braden Currie / Nicky Samuels
15-Mar XTERRA Philippines Championship Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher
29-Mar XTERRA Guam Championship Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher
29-Mar XTERRA Costa Rica Leonardo Chacon / Vanlandingham
30-Mar XTERRA Great Ocean Road
Ben Allen / Jacqui Slack
5-Apr XTERRA Saipan Championship Ben Allen / Carina Wasle
12-Apr XTERRA New Zealand Championship Conrad Stoltz / Barbara Riveros
13-Apr XTERRA West Championship Josiah Middaugh / Flora Duffy
26-Apr XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship Dan Hugo / Flora Duffy
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 Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
20-Sep XTERRA USA Championship Ogden/Snowbasin, UT
26-Oct XTERRA World Championship Maui, Hawaii

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, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, Flight Centre Active Travel and XTERRA Wetsuits & Boards Australia

About TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA

TEAM Unlimited is a Hawaii-based television events and marketing company, founded in 1988.  It owns and produces XTERRA and in 2014 will offer more than 300 XTERRA off-road triathlon and trail running races in 25+ countries worldwide. In addition, TEAM TV has produced more than 300 adventure television shows resulting in three Emmy’s and 42 Telly Awards for production excellence since 1990.  View samples atwww.xterra.tv, and learn more at www.xterraplanet.com and www.xterratrailrun.com.

Sexton

Brendan Sexton Joins Stacked Field at XTERRA Asia-Pacific Champs

Australian Olympian Brendan Sexton is the latest in a string of high-profile elites to join in the fray at the inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship triathlon this Saturday at Callala Beach in New South Wales.

“There’s been a lot of attention for this particular event recently and I happen to spend some time with quite a few of the other age group and pro competitors,” said Sexton.  “I figured if there’s one of the best assembled XTERRA fields of 2014 having a race just down the coast from home (Wollongong) why not jump in for some experience. I am in the early stages of my ITU season but I am currently doing some heavy bike and run work so the mountain biking and trail running fits in well.”

Sexton joins London Olympics teammate Courtney Atkinson and fellow Wollongong-based XTERRA star Ben Allen in what is certain to be an epic battle of “Aussies Against The World” in a stellar field that includes the South African trio of Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz, Dan Hugo, and Brad Weiss; plus Kiwis Braden Currie and Olly Shaw; Europeans Brice Daubord from France and Roger Serrano from Spain, Philippines Champ Joe Miller, and American Craig Evans.

“It’s very exciting to have a high quality XTERRA event so close to home, and I’d be kicking myself if I had the opportunity to race and let it go,” said Sexton.  “While I’m far from prepared (I’ll be on a borrowed bike from my local Wollongong bike shop), I do like to spend some time off-road. Off-road triathlon is something I follow closely and something I would like to take more seriously down the track.  I’m extremely pumped to get out there and see how I fair against the real XTERRA boys!”

XTERRA President Janet Clark, a Canberra native living in Hawaii where XTERRA headquarters is based, is thrilled to see the locals come out in force to support one of the sports’ marquee events.

“Australia is the multisport capitol of the world.  It’s part of our culture and lifestyle, from the time we’re little kids to old timers we’re out there in the ocean and on the land, and doing it better than anyone else.  It’s great to see all these world-class athletes coming out to the beautiful South Coast to give it a go.”

Related Link:
Nicky Samuels, Flora Duffy to join all-star cast at XTERRA APAC

MORE INFO 
– Website: www.xterraasiapacific.com
– On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/xterraplanet
– On twitter @xterraoffroad …hashtag #xterraAPAC

Nicky Samuels

Nicky Samuels, Flora Duffy Added to All-Star Elite Cast for Inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Australia

Honolulu, HI – Olympians Nicky Samuels of New Zealand and Flora Duffy of Bermuda confirmed their intent to race at the inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race at Callala Beach in Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia next Saturday, April 26.

“It’s official, I just entered the 2014 XTERRA Asia Pacific Champs,” said Samuels, the reigning XTERRA World Champion who is a perfect 3-for-3 in her XTERRA career.  She won XTERRA Motatapu in March for the second time, and is coming off a strong performance at the ITU WTS opener in Auckland on April 6 where she led off the bike.

Duffy, who was third at XTERRA Worlds last year, won the XTERRA South Africa Championship in February and dominated the competition at the XTERRA West Championship at Lake Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday.

“I was keen to race Australia before this race (XTERRA West) but after today’s performance and how I felt, I think I had to book my flight and go to Australia,” said Duffy after Sunday’s race where she posted the fastest swim, bike, and run splits.

The pair join an already stellar cast that include this year’s XTERRA Philippines and Guam Champion Renata Bucher of Switzerland, the XTERRA Great Ocean Road Champ Jacqui Slack of Great Britain, and the XTERRA Saipan Champion Carina Wasle of Austria.  Combined, those five have won seven of the nine XTERRA World Tour Championship races this season.

“A lot of the XTERRA pros are doing several races on the Asia-Pacific Tour so having a big finale race in Australia makes the Tour more attractive and interesting,” said Bucher, winner of 33 XTERRA Championship events in 14 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Saipan, Guam, and the Philippines.

“For sure, it is hard work. At the end it is not all about who is the most super fit athlete, it is a lot about how to manage the travel, to recover quickly, and to get through these crazy races injury free and happy.”

Others of note include Lizzie Orchard from New Zealand, who won the 25-29 division XTERRA World Title in 2011, and four-time XTERRA Japan Champion Mieko Carey.

Adding to the intrigue are several high-profile local racers including defending IM Australia Champion Rebecca Hoschke, ITU standout Penny Hosken, and rookie elite Dimity-Lee Duke.  Showing them the way will be Aussie legend Jody Mielke, who won the first-ever XTERRA Championship race in Asia at the 2000 Japan Championship.

The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship is the marquee event on XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour that includes races in New Zealand, Philippines, Australia, Saipan, Guam, and Malaysia.

Headlining the men’s race is Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz – a 7x World Champion who has won an unprecedented four XTERRA World Championship titles and three straight ITU Cross Tri World titles, and just won the XTERRA New Zealand Championship race in Rotorua on April 12.

“My last triathlon in Australia was the Sydney Olympics so it will be interesting to see how the hotbed of triathlon embraces XTERRA now,” said Stoltz, a two-time Olympian from Stellenbosch, South Africa.  “I love the sport, am extremely passionate about it and doing my best to help it advance globally.”

Stoltz’ home country will be well represented as fellow South African star Dan Hugo and young-gun Bradley Weiss are on the start list as well.

“It seems a powerful step forward for XTERRA, especially in a nation that celebrates triathlon as much as Australia does,” said Hugo, winner of XTERRA World Tour races in South Africa, the Philippines, and Guam this season and was having a brilliant day at the West Championship on Sunday before double-flatting.   “I look forward to being there, supporting an event that wants to raise the bar. I’ve been to Australia twice to visit mates, but never raced on the continent. I’ll also stay in Sydney for a few days, for which I’m just as excited.”

Weiss is also hot, fresh-off a career-best runner-up performance at the XTERRA West Championship where he finished runner-up to American star Josiah Middaugh.

The Aussies will be in full force as well with North Wollongong’s own Ben Allen, who won an unprecedented seven XTERRA World Tour races last year and this year won the XTERRA Great Ocean Road off-road tri in Anglesea and the XTERRA Saipan Championship in the Northern Marianas on back-to-back weekends before finishing second to Stoltz at XTERRA New Zealand on Saturday.

“It’s so exciting to be involved in a thrilling, adrenalin pumping & action packed sport such as XTERRA,” said Allen.  “I’m “stoked” as we say in Australia, to showcase my backyard and share the natural beauty of our culture, landscape, and laid back lifestyle to a big, diverse field of international triathletes.”

Other high-profile Australian racers include two-time Olympian Courtney Atkinson, who won XTERRA Great Ocean Road last year, Dr. Mitch Anderson – a former Ironman Champion, Alex Reithmeier who just finished third at the Australian Cross Tri Championships, and Todd Israel.

Also of note, Craig Evans from the U.S., a 12-year veteran of the sport who was 2nd at ITU Cross Tri Worlds in ’02, Kiwi Braden Currie – the two-time winner of  XTERRA Motatapu who finished 5th at XTERRA Worlds last year, Olly Shaw – the 20-24 XTERRA World Champ in 2012 before turning pro, Brice Daubord from France, who finished in the top 10 at XTERRA Worlds last year, Roger Serrano from Spain who was recently the runner-up at XTERRA Great Ocean Road in Australia, and XTERRA Philippines two-time national champ Joe Miller.

For all the latest news visit www.xterraasiapacific.com

Elite Men

Conrad Stoltz (RSA)
Dan Hugo (RSA)
Bradley Weiss (RSA)
Ben Allen (AUS)
Braden Currie (NZL)
Craig Evans (USA)
Courtney Atkinson (AUS)
Alex Reithmeier (AUS)
Olly Shaw (NZL)
Joshua Kenyon (NZL)
Roger Serrano (ESP)
Joe Miller (PHI)
Brice Daubord (FRA)
Todd Israel (AUS)
Mitchell Anderson (AUS)

Elite Women

Nicky Samuels (NZL)
Flora Duffy (BER)
Renata Bucher (SUI)
Carina Wasle (AUT)
Lizzie Orchard (NZL)
Jacqui Slack (GBR)
Mieko Carey (JPN)
Jody Mielke (AUS)
Penny Hosken (AUS)
Rebecca Hoschke (AUS)
Dimity-Lee Duke (AUS)

 

TEAM Unlimited LLC, owners and producers of the XTERRA World Tour, has a three-year strategic partnership agreement with Destination New South Wales to host the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship off-road triathlon and accompanying sports festival in the Jervis Bay area.

The inaugural event will double as the XTERRA Australia Championship.  The weekend will also include a sprint distance off-road triathlon, trail runs, kids events, clinics, and social gatherings.

“For the next three years, the XTERRA Asia-Pacific and Australian Championships, which have never been held before in Australia, will be held exclusively in the NSW South Coast town of Jervis Bay,” said George Souris, Minister for Tourism and Major Events.  “The NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, works hard to secure major events for regional NSW and XTERRA is a fantastic new addition to the NSW Events calendar.  The spectacular coast line of the Jervis Bay area will provide a fitting location to host this triathlon event.”

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

“We are absolutely delighted to partner with Destination New South Wales and bring one of the major pillar events in the XTERRA World Tour to the New South Wales and Jervis Bay region,” said Tom Kiely, TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA CEO.  “Our athletes will be treated to a remarkable setting for a race and perhaps more importantly, a truly amazing adventure destination to explore and discover before and after the big event.”

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

About TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA

TEAM Unlimited is a Hawaii-based television events and marketing company, founded in 1988.  It owns and produces XTERRA and in 2013 will offer more than 300 XTERRA off-road triathlon and trail running races in 18 countries worldwide.  In addition, TEAM TV has produced more than 300 adventure television shows resulting in three Emmy’s and 42 Telly Awards for production excellence since 1990.  View samples at www.xterra.tv, and learn more at www.xterraplanet.com and www.xterratrailrun.com.

 

MORE INFO:      

– Website: www.xterraasiapacific.com

– On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/xterraplanet

– On twitter @xterraoffroad  #xterraAPAC

 

Josiah Middaugh

Middaugh, Duffy win XTERRA West Championship

Complete Results / Photo Gallery

(Lake Las Vegas – Henderson, Nevada) – Josiah Middaugh and Flora Duffy won the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series opener at the XTERRA West Championship around the desert of Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada this morning.

It’s the third time in four years Middaugh has captured the West Championship title.

It started in the calm 58-degree waters of Lake Las Vegas fronting the Reflection Bay Golf Clubhouse with 18-year-old sensation Mauricio Mendez (last year’s amateur XTERRA World Champion from Mexico) leading the swim ahead of a pack that included Dan Hugo, Craig Evans, Branden Rakita, and Flora Duffy.

Hugo, winner at XTERRA South Africa, Philippines, and Guam already this year, quickly asserted his will on the bike and broke away from the field.  He had a one-minute lead on second-place Mendez after the first of two bike laps and when he zipped by the 13-mile mark he looked poised to run away with the win.  That was until he flatted on a tricky section a few miles later, and then again not long after.  They weren’t your ordinary flats, either, rather the kind that would send most to the bike shop for help, and it took him totally out of the race.  He soldiered on to finish 7th.  Hugo put it mildly when he said “It was a nightmare. Never had that happen before, but its part of the game.”

For Middaugh, the day started two minutes, thirty seconds behind the lead swimmers but as he has so many times before, he pedaled his way back into the race on the bike.  He picked off 10-of-the-11 guys ahead of him by the second-lap and passed Hugo when his troubles struck and took a 15-second lead into the bike-to-run transition that he built into a comfortable two-minute margin of victory.

“Certainly wish Dan would have had a mechanical-free day so we would have had a clean race, but it was still a good race, and a good day for me,” said Middaugh, who has won five of the last six U.S. Pro Series majors since 2012.  “Brad (Weiss) was climbing stronger than I’ve ever seen him and he was pretty much matching me on the climbs so he’s going to be tough this year, and Mauricio is really figuring it out.”

For Brad Weiss, it was a career day.  When Middaugh caught him on his hard charge towards the front on the bike the young South African responded with everything he had and went along for the ride – something not many have ever been able to do.  He was rewarded with a U.S. Series career-best runner-up finish against a class field.

“Today, for the first time, when he (Middaugh) caught me I was really aggressive and I wasn’t going to let him go.  I sat on his wheel most of the second lap, and he’s riding a step above what I’m capable of, so I was really hurting by the end there.  Still, for the first 4K or so on the run the gap didn’t change much.  Into the descents though he seems to have the longer stride and really opened the gap up and there was not much I could do.”

Mendez, the rising star from Mexico City, beat everybody out of the water then hung tough with some of the sports best riders and entered the bike-to-run transition with Branden Rakita and Craig Evans.  Despite the heavy legs he had enough in the tank left to pull away and finish third in convincing fashion.

“It was a very hard race, very tough but it feels amazing and such a great experience being with all these guys I really admire,” said Mendez.  “When I finished the bike, I was like ‘oh my gosh I have nothing left’, but I gave all I had on the run and it was a very good result.  It’s my dream to follow this path.”

Branden Rakita and Craig Evans finished fourth and fifth, respectively.  Its Evans best performance in the desert yet, made even sweeter because his wife and two kids flew in from Tennessee to watch it unfold up-close.  Also of note Ryan Petry was stellar in his pro debut, finishing sixth overall.

PRO MEN  



Pl Name Age Hometown Time Points
1 Josiah Middaugh 35 Vail, Colorado 2:10:07 100
2 Bradley Weiss 25 Cape Town, South Africa 2:12:08 90
3 Mauricio Mendez 18 Mexico City, Mexico 2:13:00 82
4 Branden Rakita 33 Colorado Springs, Colorado 2:15:11 75
5 Craig Evans 36 Hendersonville, Tennessee 2:15:40 69
6 Ryan Petry 22 Tempe, Arizona 2:18:17 63
7 Dan Hugo 28 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:19:22 58
8 Chris Ganter 35 Boise, Idaho 2:20:18 53
9 Matt Lieto 35 Bend, Oregon 2:21:33 49
10 Ryan Ignatz 35 Boulder, Colorado 2:24:49 45
Also: Justin Thomas (41), Jeff Smith (37), Will Kelsay (34), Ryan DeCook (31), Will Ross (28), Chris Bagg, Nick Fisher, Brian Astell, Andy Lee, Chris Legh

Flora Duffy

DUFFY DOMINATES WOMEN’S RACE

Flora Duffy was sensational on Sunday, posting the fastest swim, bike, and run times on her way to a convincing win in the desert.

Just a year ago after placing sixth at the Mountain Championship race in Colorado Duffy wasn’t sure she ever wanted to do another XTERRA.  Then she had a break-out race at XTERRA Worlds, placing third, trained in South Africa over the winter (where she spent a lot of time on the mountain bike) and won the XTERRA South Africa Championship.

“I rode my mountain bike all winter so I think that’s showing and I feel more comfortable on it so I can go through things faster which makes a huge difference,” said Duffy.  “I was pleased I could ride it pretty well.  Some sections were so rutted out and dry, it was hectic out there.”

Emma Garrard, who won the race for second and was the top American for the third time in a row said Flora “is super talented, and I think she may have just found her niche in triathlon.”

Shonny Vanlandingham overcame a big deficit out of the water to bike-and-run her way into the third position, with Suzie Snyder and Chantell Widney rounding out the top five.  Danelle Kabush ran into 6th and Kara LaPoint finished in the money in her first race as a pro.

PRO WOMEN



Pl Name Age Hometown Time Points
1 Flora Duffy 26 Boulder, Colorado 2:25:48 100
2 Emma Garrard 32 Park City, Utah 2:37:06 90
3 Shonny Vanlandingham 44 Durango, Colorado 2:37:59 82
4 Suzie Snyder 32 Fredericksburg, Virginia 2:38:24 75
5 Chantell Widney 34 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 2:39:14 69
6 Danelle Kabush 39 Calgary, Alberta, Canada 2:40:26 63
7 Kara LaPoint 26 Truckee, California 2:44:46 58
8 Katie Button 28 Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:55:00 53
9 Jaime Brede 36 Breckenridge, Colorado 2:57:13 49
10 Debby Sullivan 32 Rocklin, California 2:58:29 45
Also: Rebecca Blatt (41), Amelia McCracken (37)

BALZER, FINCHAMP WIN AMATEUR CROWNS

A pair of familiar names – the reigning amateur XTERRA National Champ Matthew Balzer and the reigning XTERRA World Champion Hannah Rae Finchamp – won the amateur XTERRA West Championship crowns today. Maia Ignatz and Meghan Sheridan went 2/3 for the women while Cal Zaryski and John Hatala finished 2/3 overall for the men.

XTERRA WEST CHAMPIONS (FEMALE)
Division Name Time
15 – 19 Hannah Rae Finchamp 2:43:57
25 – 29 Heather Zimchek 3:14:12
30 – 34 Maia Ignatz 2:57:50
35 – 39 Meghan Sheridan 3:00:52
40 – 44 Kelli Montgomery 3:04:30
45 – 49 Linda Matheson 4:24:49
50 – 54 Janet Soule 3:21:01
55 – 59 Sheila Cotter 4:35:16
65+ Kathy Frank 5:42:24
XTERRA WEST CHAMPIONS (MALE)
Division Name Time
15 – 19 David Duncan 2:44:41
20 – 24 Rory Macomber 2:49:29
25 – 29 Tomas Matera 2:43:40
30 – 34 Matthew Balzer 2:31:04
35 – 39 Slater Fletcher 2:41:33
40 – 44 Mike Cabigon 2:41:14
45 – 49 Calvin Zaryski 2:34:52
50 – 54 Dennis Farrell 2:47:17
55 – 59 Dennis Brinson 2:54:30
60 – 64 John Royson 3:06:36
65 – 69 Dennis Freeman 4:14:51
70 – 74 Roger Kern 5:42:25
PC Jamie Brown 3:34:52

 

2014 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING EVENTS

The XTERRA West Championship was the ninth 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, the inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship at Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia on April 26.

Date Race Location / Pro Winners
23-Feb XTERRA South Africa Dan Hugo / Flora Duffy
8-Mar XTERRA Motatapu Braden Currie / Nicky Samuels
15-Mar XTERRA Philippines Championship Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher
29-Mar XTERRA Guam Championship Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher
29-Mar XTERRA Costa Rica Leonardo Chacon / Shonny Vanlandingham
30-Mar XTERRA Great Ocean Road
Ben Allen / Jacqui Slack
5-Apr XTERRA Saipan Championship Ben Allen / Carina Wasle
12-Apr XTERRA New Zealand Championship Conrad Stoltz / Barbara Riveros
13-Apr XTERRA West Championship Josiah Middaugh / Flora Duffy
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


About TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA

TEAM Unlimited is a Hawaii-based television events and marketing company, founded in 1988.  It owns and produces XTERRA and in 2014 will offer more than 300 XTERRA off-road triathlon and trail running races in 25+ countries worldwide. In addition, TEAM TV has produced more than 300 adventure television shows resulting in three Emmy’s and 42 Telly Awards for production excellence since 1990.  View samples at www.xterra.tv, and learn more at xterraplanet.com and xterratrailrun.com.

Men's Podium New Zealand by Mark Tantrum

Stoltz, Riveros win XTERRA New Zealand

(Rotorua, New Zealand) – Olympians Conrad Stoltz of South Africa and Barbara Riveros of Chile captured the 12th annual XTERRA New Zealand Championship race on a beautiful Saturday morning around the Blue Lake in Rotorua.

Stoltz, a four-time XTERRA World Champion and three-time ITU Cross Triathlon World Champion, set his sights on discovering the adventure and thrill of racing in some of the world’s most amazing venues in 2014 and got off to a rollicking start for that today.

“The course was phenomenal, exactly what I expected,” said Stoltz after the win.  “I heard so many good things about it and saw footage of it on the internet.  When I saw the course I thought wow, this is just phenomenal. I wish I could stay longer and ride some more and see the rest of the trails out here.”

Australian Ben Allen, no stranger to the beauty of Rotorua as the reigning and two-time XTERRA New Zealand Champion, took the early lead out of the swim; however, Stoltz was not far behind and jumped into the front roughly 4km into the mountain bike.

“I had a really good race,” said Stoltz.  “I’ve had good form early this year but had a couple of bad luck races with flats and stuff earlier this summer in South Africa so it was great to come out here and make the most of it.”

Stoltz said he was smiling on the downhills, and came into the bike-to-run transition with a gap big enough to hold-off the speedy Allen who crossed the finish line just 40-seconds back in 2nd place.  It’s Allen’s third XTERRA major in as many weeks, and he won the other two – at Great Ocean Road in Australia and the XTERRA Saipan Championship last week.

Local young gun Olly Shaw, who won the 20-24 XTERRA World Title in 2012, was the top Kiwi and placed third overall. Shaw also raced the Asia-Pacific Tour the last two weeks, placing 3rd at XTERRA Guam and 4th at XTERRA Saipan.   Kiwi Sam Osborne was 4th and Spaniard Roger Serrano placed 5th.

“I saw a wallaby, all the tree ferns, this beautiful lake, it’s just stunningly beautiful here,” said Stoltz.  “Even the run, it’s shaded the whole way, lush and green.  Plus, the Kiwis are crazy about their triathlon and are very knowledgeable about the sport so it was great to come out and be part of the XTERRA family here.”

Pro Men
Pl Name Time
1 Conrad Stoltz, RSA 2:04:51
2 Ben Allen, AUS 2:05:31
3 Olly Shaw, NZL 2:07:28
4 Sam Osborne,NZL 2:08:55
5 Roger Serrano, ESP 2:11:27
6 Sam Shaw,NZL 2:13:14
7 Sam Gardner, GBR 2:15:05
8 Clark Ellice, NZL 2:16:17
9 Josh Kenyon, NZL 2:16:19
10 Nick Moore, NZL 2:16:34
Also: Andrew Small, Tayler Reid, Noah Wright

Complete Results

Women's Podium New Zealand by Mark Tantrum

RIVEROS WINS WOMEN’S RACE

In her fourth-ever XTERRA race Barbara Riveros captured her first-ever XTERRA Championship.

“Pretty happy with my performance today,” said Riveros, who placed 8th last weekend at the ITU World Triathlon Series opener in Auckland, New Zealand.  “It’s hard to spend much time on my mountain bike because my focus is ITU and next month we start qualification for Rio.”

Great Britain XTERRA star Jacqui Slack, the 2012 New Zealand Champ, pushed Riveros to the breaking point on the bike before succumbing to her phenomenal fitness level.

“Jacqui was pushing so hard on the bike, and came so very close to dropping me,” said Riveros.  “I had to put the hammer down just to stay with her. I’m really happy for her because she has brought her mountain bike skill to another level.  She’s another athlete compared to last year.”

Thought the two went neck-and-neck on the bike, Riveros took off on the run and won comfortably.

“The run around the lake was awesome, the support was great, I felt comfortable and kept my tempo and I’m really happy it worked out,” said Riveros.

Interestingly, it was Slack (and her mate Ben Allen) who talked Riveros into racing at XTERRA New Zealand.

“Yeah, Jacqui and I train in the same city in Australia and she told me you must come here, it is amazing and she was right.  I am so grateful to Ben and Jacqui to suggest coming here.  This place is unbelievable, like a dream.  I just love nature, the trails are amazing, and it is a wonderful event,” said Riveros.

Sarah Backler, a 2012 XTERRA World Champ (30-24 division), finished third, Lizzie Orchard, a 2011 XTERRA World Champ (25-29 division) was fourth, and Rachel Challis, a U.S. based XTERRA pro from New Zealand, placed fifth and two-time XTERRA NZ Champ Nicola Leary was sixth.

Pro Women
Pl Name Final
1 Barbara Riveros, CHI 2:18:32
2 Jacqui Slack, GBR 2:24:14
3 Sarah Backler, NZL 2:27:44
4 Lizzie Orchard, NZL 2:30:20
5 Rachel Challis, NZL 2:30:59
6 Nic Leary, NZL 2:35:06

The Paymark XTERRA Rotorua Festival is one of the single biggest multisport events in the world, with more than 2,000 racers taking part in a variety of challenges including a 5.5 km, 11km or 21km walk or run, a 26km mountain bike as well as a team or individual at the XTERRA New Zealand Championship.  Here’s a look at a dozen years of elite champions in Rotorua.

XTERRA NEW ZEALAND ALL-TIME WINNERS
Year Men Women
2003 Sam Mallard Evelyn Willamson
2004 Hamish Carter Sonia Foote
2005 Hamish Carter Sonia Foote
2006 Hamish Carter Gina Ferguson
2007 Tim Wilding Gina Ferguson
2008 Terenzo Bozzone Sonia Foote
2009 Richard Ussher Nicola Leary
2010 Scott Thorne Nicola Leary
2011 Richard Ussher Karen Hanlen
2012 Ben Allen Jacqui Slack
2013 Ben Allen Renata Bucher
2014 Conrad Stoltz Barbara Riveros

2014 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING EVENTS

XTERRA New Zealand was the eighth 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, tomorrow’s XTERRA West Championship at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada, which is also the start of the U.S. Pro Series.

Date Race Location / Pro Winners
23-Feb XTERRA South Africa Dan Hugo / Flora Duffy
8-Mar XTERRA Motatapu Braden Currie / Nicky Samuels
15-Mar XTERRA Philippines Championship Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher
29-Mar XTERRA Guam Championship Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher
29-Mar XTERRA Costa Rica Leonardo Chacon / Shonny Vanlandingham
30-Mar XTERRA Great Ocean Road
Ben Allen / Jacqui Slack
5-Apr XTERRA Saipan Championship Ben Allen / Carina Wasle
12-Apr XTERRA New Zealand Championship Conrad Stoltz / Barbara Riveros
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


About TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA

TEAM Unlimited is a Hawaii-based television events and marketing company, founded in 1988.  It owns and produces XTERRA and in 2014 will offer more than 300 XTERRA off-road triathlon and trail running races in 25+ countries worldwide. In addition, TEAM TV has produced more than 300 adventure television shows resulting in three Emmy’s and 42 Telly Awards for production excellence since 1990.  View samples at www.xterra.tv, and learn more at xterraplanet.com and xterratrailrun.com.

Bernd-Pannewitz-(L)-&-Marcus-Barton-(R)

XTERRA Point Series News and Notes

Greg Schott from Chesterfield, VA and Misty Becerra of Clermont, FL captured the XTERRA Hickory Knob off-road tri Saturday at McCormick, South Carolina in 2:06:39 and 2:22:31, respectively.

XTERRA Ambassador Marcus Barton, who finished fourth on the day on first in the masters division, stumbled upon a unique natural occurrence before the race…an abundance of falling pollen.  Here’s how he described it…

“When we showed up on Friday for a pre-ride and run of the XTERRA Hickory Knob course, it was vastly different weather than 2013.  Last year, at race time, it was raining, cold and water in the mid-50’s.  In that race, I didn’t warm up until I was in the showers after the race,” said Barton.  “This year, it was sunny and mid 70’s before the race, but there was what appeared to be a fog cloud in the air.  You don’t have to be a weatherman to know that sunny and 70 is not typically when you have fog.  That’s because this cloud wasn’t fog after all, but instead a haze of pollen in the air.  The ground was covered in a layer of yellow as if it was a dusting of snow and you had nice little puffs of it with every step.  The trail was even worse and several times during my pre-ride, I’d stop and look behind me to see the yellow cloud that I had stirred up resettle to the ground.  I’ve raced in dusty conditions, but this was definitely taking it a step farther.”

You can read Marcus’ full account of race day on his blog, marcusbarton.com // XTERRA Hickory Knob complete Results

XTERRA TIGER THIS SATURDAY

The inaugural XTERRA Tiger off-road tri takes to the trails at Chewacla State Park in Auburn, Alabama. Chris Bowers, owner of www.about-time-events.com, and the guys at CAMP (Central Alabama Mountain Pedalers) who take care of the trails say it’s a “perfect venue for an off-road triathlon as it has one of the areas best parks for a Tri, a fun and fast trail system and a quiet comfortable setting.”

The race combines a half-mile swim with a 10-mile bike loop and 3.1-mile run.

PRIZE MONEY FOR RUSTMAN CHALLENGE

Race director Fred Phillips of DLT Events is putting up $1,000 to the fastest two male and females, based on cumulative time in the XTERRA Epic – Rustman and the XTERRA Gator Terra off-road triathlons to be held May 3-4 at Lincoln Parish Park in Ruston, Louisiana.

“This weekend is also the only time here in the U.S. that you can earn two full sets of point towards the XTERRA Point Series,” said Phillips.  “Who needs Iron when you can get Rusty!”

Now in its 18th year the XTERRA Gator Terra, the longest running XTERRA in the continental U.S., is ready to snap into action on May 4. Its partner, the XTERRA Epic – The RustMan, will be the feature on May 3rd. 

Last year XTERRA created the XTERRA Epic Series, which consisted of 4 races,” explained Phillips. “The Rustman is the first race of the 2014 National Series, so get a head start on your competition towards become a XTERRA Epic National Champion!”

This year’s Epic Series races include the XTERRA Epic – Rustman on May 3 (Ruston, LA), the XTERRA Epic – Marquette on Sept. 13 (Marquette, MI), the XTERRA Epic – ASP on Sept. 27 (Salamanca, NY), and the XTERRA Epic – Iron Mountain on October 18 (Arkadelphia, AR).

All four races will feature a one-mile swim, 30-to-35 mile mountain bike, and 9-to-11 mile trail run.  The Series will be scored in 10-year age groups starting from 18-29, where racers count their best two scores to vie for the 2014 XTERRA Epic Series Championship.

The four events will also award XTERRA Points Series level points into the XTERRA America Tour, with the Rustman counting for the 2014 season while the other three will count towards the 2015 season.

“Hosting the oldest continually running XTERRA on the main land, the Gator Terra, as well as the XTERRA Epic – The Rustman , the oldest XTERRA Epic, holds a certain responsibility. We have worked hard to keep it fresh and fun,” said Phillips.

DLT Events was founded in 1998, and produces events throughout Arkansas and the surrounding states.

“Our Mission is to provide events that fit the needs of the first time participant to highly driven competitor. Through these events we support the programs of Teen Challenge, a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation program,” said Phillips.

XTERRA New Zealand - Photo By John Cowpland

A Dozen Years in Rotorua

The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour rolls into Rotorua this weekend where Ben Allen looks to join triathlon legend Hamish Carter as the only other man to three-peat at the XTERRA New Zealand Championship on Saturday.

It won’t be easy, as the adventure-inspired 7x World Champion Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz from South Africa has been ripping around on the trails for a week in anticipation of his first XTERRA race in the Blue Lakes area. Meanwhile, Allen has been traveling across the oceans to race and win at XTERRA Great Ocean Road in Australia two weeks ago and the XTERRA Saipan Championship in the Northern Marianas just last weekend.

“Great to be back in New Zealand, home of some wicked mountain bike trails,” said Allen.  “I absolutely love being involved here and racing the Kiwi’s on their turf. It’s great that Roger Serrano, Sam Gardner, and Conrad Stoltz (SA) have made the trip over to experience this one-of-a-kind race.”

Indeed, the beautiful Blue Lakes area in Rotorua has a reputation as being a well-organized race in one of the most scenic spots on the XTERRA World Tour.  This is year 12 for XTERRA in New Zealand, and more than 20,000 adventurous souls have taken part in the races in Rotorua.

“It really is one of the adventure capitals of the world,” added Allen.  “There are so many outdoors activities to do, it’s just a matter of picking one or a couple. I think it has to do with the adventurous spirit of the Kiwis, they love exploring and don’t mind getting dirty. It’s part of the fun. I am back for my fourth-time in Rotorua and I’m as excited as ever. The place thrives on mountain biking and has lots of cool little trendy cafés Jacqui and I love to visit, not to mention the natural hot springs perfect for that post race recovery session.”

For sure a first-class race is set for Saturday as some of the sports best mountain bikers tackle one of XTERRA’s best mountain bike courses.  Here’s a look at the elite men:

Ben Allen, AUS – 2x XTERRA NZ Champ, 2014 XTERRA Great Ocean Road and Saipan Champ

Conrad Stoltz, RSA – 4x XTERRA World Champ, 3x ITU Cross-Tri World Champ, 2x Olympian

Sam Gardner, GBR – Former XTERRA Japan, Guam, and Saipan Champion

Olly Shaw, NZL – 2012 XTERRA World Champion in 20-24 division, 3rd at 2014 XTERRA Guam

Roger Serrano, ESP – 2nd at 2014 XTERRA Great Ocean Road

Josh Kenyon, NZL – 5th at 2013 XTERRA New Zealand

Plus, Nick Moore, AUS, Clark Ellice, NZL, Andrew Small, NZL, and Noah Wright, AUS

Like the men’s field, the women’s elite line-up features some of the sports biggest stars, including ITU standout Barbara Riveros from Chile.  The Olympian has finished in the top four at XTERRA Worlds two years in-a-row, including a runner-up finish in 2012.

She’ll be joined by three past XTERRA New Zealand Champions, including three-time champ Sonia Foote (2004-2005/2008), two-time winner Nicola Leary (2009-10) and 2012 champ Jacqui Slack from the UK. Here’s a look at the women’s pro field:

Barbara Riveros, CHI – 2nd at XTERRA Worlds in 2012

Jacqui Slack, GBR – 2014 XTERRA Great Ocean Road Champ, 2012 NZ Champ

Lizzie Orchard, NZL – 2011 XTERRA World Champ (25-29 division)

Sarah Backler, NZL – 5th at 2013 XTERRA New Zealand

Sonia Foote, NZL – 3x XTERRA New Zealand Champion

Nic Leary, NZL – 2x XTERRA New Zealand Champion

Rachel Challis, NZL – Ranked 17th in 2013 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series

The Paymark XTERRA Rotorua Festival is one of the single biggest multisport events in the world, with more than 2,000 racers taking part in a variety of challenges including a 5.5 km, 11km or 21km walk or run, a 26km mountain bike as well as a team or individual triathlon.

More information can be found at www.xterra.co.nz

Ben Allen Malaysia

XTERRA Malaysia on May 3

On Saturday, May 3, a week after the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race, the second-running of XTERRA Malaysia will take place in Putrajaya, just outside the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

The race combines a one-mile swim in the gorgeous, man-made Putrajaya Lake fronting the Maritime Centre with an 18-mile mountain bike through Challenge Park featuring world-class trails followed by one of the most diverse and adventurous six-mile trail runs on the XTERRA Planet.

“It was a fantastic event. The swim was superb, course was unreal, and there were loads of volunteers. First-class all the way,” said last year’s men’s winner Ben Allen.

Dan Hugo, who like Allen has traveled extensively across the region, also spoke highly of the course and organization.

“So much fine detail, I can’t say enough of the organization and tourism board. Massive amount of vollies, impeccable signage, they didn’t hold back on anything and went the extra yard wherever they could.  It’s a phenomenal location, and a really, really fun course.  When the race started the moon was visible and we hit the sunrise perfectly to see the city scape.  The water was like a pool, glassy with lane rope, and the bike was almost Richmond-like, a fun mix of everything and never a straight line.  It was super entertaining, and the culture shows through here, very courteous, warm people.” said Hugo.

Indeed for all involved it was a spectacular event and assures to be even better in 2014.  The natural landscape in Putrajaya is one of pure adventure, and the mix of epic singletrack switchbacks and the most diverse, remarkable run course imaginable combined for an instant classic. With an awe-inspiring host hotel at the Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside, superb organization, and so much to see and experience in the immediate and surrounding areas XTERRA Malaysia in Putrajaya is sure to become a World Tour stable.

“Lived it, loved it,” said XTERRA Pro Daz Parker.  “Amazingly organized and executed by Race Director Dave Spence and his team of wonderful smiley volunteers.”

See images from last year here, and learn more at xterramy.com.

Josiah Middaugh

XTERRA West Championship Sunday

Since XTERRA started opening its season in the desert outside the Las Vegas strip in 2009 Josiah Middaugh has been dropping faster swimmers one brutal hill climb at a time. In doing so he’s won the XTERRA West Championship two of the last three years, and placed 2nd to Conrad Stoltz in the other three.

This year, with Stoltz racing at XTERRA New Zealand on the same weekend, Middaugh enters Sunday’s race as the clear-cut favorite, the fastest in the field.  He’s the reigning West Champ, the defending XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Champ, and the top American at both the U.S. and World Championships last year.  Still, humble is the rule for the 35-year-old…

“I think both the men’s and women’s races are wide open,” said Middaugh in a phone interview this morning from his home in Eagle-Vail, Colorado where he took his daughter sledding yesterday.

“There are a lot of fast guys in the field and with it being so early in the season it’s hard to know what to expect.  I know Dan (Hugo) has been racing fast on the Asia-Pacific Tour, and the kid Mauricio (Mendez) is amazing, and Luke McKenzie is one of the better cyclists in all of Ironman so you know he can pedal, Chris Legh can make up a ton of time on the run, and Matt Lieto is tough too, so it’ll be fun to see how it goes.  I’m definitely excited about starting the U.S. season.”

Others wouldn’t be so fast to agree that the race is “wide open.” In fact, even after Hugo won XTERRA Guam two weeks ago, his third World Tour race win of the season, he made a point to say it would be “a different game in Vegas vs. Josiah.”

That’s because Hugo, and the other dozen or so pros that beat him out of the water have seen Middaugh’s “beast mode” in full effect.  He traditionally exits the swim one-to-three minutes behind his toughest competitors, then unleashes on the bike and run.

“I’ve actually been working a lot on my swimming in the off-season…haven’t gotten any faster though,” chuckled Middaugh, the epitome of dedication when he’s walking out in sub-zero temps to do laps in the pool in January (see proof).

His most interesting counterpart for Sunday has to be rookie sensation Mauricio Mendez, an 18-year-old from Mexico City.  Last year Mendez took the XTERRA World by storm here in Vegas by posting the fastest swim and run splits of the day and finishing 7th overall.  He proved it was no fluke repetitively for the rest of the season which culminated with the amateur world title in Maui.  Two weeks ago Mendez finished third behind only Leonardo Chacon and Middaugh in his pro debut at XTERRA Costa Rica.

“When I passed him on the bike he put up a strong fight, and he can outrun me on the flats” said Middaugh.  “I’m going to need to catch him as soon as possible on the bike in Vegas and put some time in on the climbs.”

Mauricio Mendez

In the XTERRA Costa Rica highlight video they show a post-race interview with Mendez in Spanish, complete with subtitles.  Here’s what he said…

“Pursue your dreams, fight for want you want, believe in yourself.  I think that is the basis for everything.  The only success is finding a way to live your life your way.”

Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
1 – Josiah Middaugh – 35, Vail-Eagle, CO
2 – Dan Hugo – 28, Stellenbosch, South Africa
3 – Branden Rakita – 33, Colorado Springs, CO
4 – Ryan Ignatz – 35, Boulder, CO
5 – Bradley Weiss – 25, Cape Town, South Africa
6 – Craig Evans – 36, Hendersonville, TN
9 – Nick Fisher – 28, Ogden, UT
10 – Will Kelsay – 32, Boulder, CO
14 – Andy Lee – 41, Lakeway, TX (Great Britain)
15 – Chris Ganter – 35, Boise, ID
18 – Will Ross – 24, Anchorad, AK
19 – Matt Lieto – 35, Bend, OR
24 – Karsten Madsen – Guelph, Ontario, Canada
25 – Ryan DeCook – 33, Rochester, MI
NR – Chris Bagg – 34, Portland, OR
NR – Brendan Halpin – 29, Missoula, MT
NR – Chris Legh – 41, Lyons, CO (Australia)
NR – Luke McKenzie – 32, Encinitas, CA (Australia)
NR – Mauricio Mendez – 18, Mexico City, Mexico
NR – Jeff Smith – 31, Portland, OR
NR – Justin Thomas – 39, Reno, NV
NR – Alexander VanderLinden – 24, Ontario, Canada

Emma Garrard

WOMEN’S RACE

In the last five years of racing in Vegas Melanie McQuaid (twice), Shonny Vanlandingham, Renata Bucher, and Lesley Paterson have won the titles.  Of that bunch, only Vanlandingham, the 2010 winner, will line-up on the sandy shores in front of the Reflection Bay golf club on Sunday.

The 44-year-old is fresh off a win at XTERRA Costa Rica, and living proof that age is just a number.  One of the greatest mountain bikers in U.S. history, Vanlandinhgam consistently posts the best bike splits at the biggest races.  She’ll need to do that once again if she wants to catch the likes of Flora Duffy, a 26-year-old Olympian from Bermuda who swims as fast as the best men in the sport.

Duffy, who was third at the XTERRA World Championship last year and won the XTERRA South Africa Championship in February, enters her first season as a full-timer with the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series on Sunday.  One could guess she’ll do great on this course, which is deemed to be more about fitness than technical mountain biking skills, but as Middaugh pointed out, “it’s still rough out there, and you’ll need some courage to get through some of the downhills and the sandy washes require some skill.”

There are a host of proven XTERRA women pros familiar with those sandy washes that will certainly be factors on the day with Emma Garrard (pictured above), who was the top American at both the U.S. and World Championships last year, the “Big Fish” Christine Jeffrey (top 3 here in 2009-2011), Danelle Kabush, and last year’s runner-up Suzie Snyder.

The pro race starts at 8am PST on Sunday.  Follow along @xterraoffroad and check facebook.com/xterraplanet for race updates and photos.

Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
2 – Shonny Vanlandingham – 44, Durango, Colorado
3 – Danelle Kabush – 39, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
5 – Suzie Snyder – 32, Fredericksburg, Virginia
6 – Emma Garrard – 32, Park City, Utah
8 – Christine Jeffrey – 41, Tucson, AZ (Canada)
11 – Jamie Brede – 36, Breckenridge, Colorado
12 – Katie Button – 28, Victoria, B.C., Canada
14 – Tamara Donelson – 37, Edwards, Colorado (Australia)
15 – Chantell Widney – 34, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
19 – Flora Duffy – 26, Boulder, CO (Bermuda)
NR – Rebecca Blatt – 34, Lakewood, CO
NR – Solana Kline – 31, Bend, OR
NR – Kara LaPoint – 26, Truckee, CA
NR – Amelia McCracken – 30, Philadelphia, PA

LIST OF WHO’S WHO SET FOR AMATEUR RACE

The XTERRA West Championship brings out the best, that’s for certain.  As proof, simply look at the start list which features more than a dozen current and former XTERRA National and World Champs including:

4x World Champ Hannah Rae Finchamp (15-19)
2x World Champ Liz Gruber (aged up to25-29)
2x National Champ Mat Signoretty (aged up to 25-29)
Reigning WC Debby Sullivan (30-34)
Reigning National Champ Maia Ignatz (30-34)
Reigning National Champ Matthew Balzer (30-34)
5x World Champ Cal Zaryski (45-49)
4x National and World Champ Tom Monica (55-59)
4x World Champ John Royson (60-64)
4x National Champ Kathy Frank (65+)
Reigning PC National Champ Craig Vogstberger

Count on yet another great battle between Finchamp and Gruber for the women’s amateur title, while Signoretty chases Balzer for the amateur men’s crown.

Also of note last year’s 25-29 division World Champ Kara LaPoint went Pro and this will be her first-race as an elite.  The overall amateur men’s World Champ Mauricio Mendez also went pro, and is one of the race favorites.

The most “experienced” in the field are 72-year-old Roger Kern for the men and 66-year-old Kathy Frank for the women – both former XTERRA World Champions.  The youngest is Mitch Child from Salt Lake City, Utah – who turned 15 on March 9, and Rachel Anders from Sandy, UT, who is 16-years-old.

The top finishers in each division will earn one of 46 qualifying spots into this year’s XTERRA World Championship in Maui, and the top 15 in each division will score championship-level points in the XTERRA America Tour Points Series.

Visit www.xterralakelasvegas.com for more details.