Photo: Ben Collins by N2Photo
Professional triathlete Ben Collins says he loves an adventure.
“I live by the mantra “do it for the story” which I use as a reason to do things that are likely to fail. A good story never came easy,” he explained.
Prophetic words, especially considering he’ll be racing his first XTERRA as a pro next Sunday (June 14) at the East Championship in Richmond, Virginia – home to the sports most adventurous urban course.
“I’m really looking forward to a challenge at XTERRA,” said Collins, who won the LifeTime Tri Toyota Triple Crown just last October. “I can’t wait to give it a shot, and I know it’s going to be a humbling experience against guys that are way better than me on technical terrain. Jamie Whitmore was giving me some advice after our road race last Sunday and warned me that Richmond will be a really hard introduction to off-road triathlon. Luckily, she also offered to give me some advice on course specifics. It’s pretty cool that a world champion is that willing to share secrets and help the next generation. I hear that’s the culture I’m going to find throughout XTERRA, and I look forward to it.”
Interestingly enough, Collins beginnings as a triathlete featured an XTERRA race not far from its worldwide headquarters on Oahu.
“Back in 2005 I did the XTERRA Mountainman off-road race in Hawaii at Kualoa Ranch. It was one of my first ever triathlons,” said Collins. “I was visiting my uncle and borrowed a 1982 Nashiki with no suspension. Luckily, the course was so wet and rooted that even the top guys were running a good portion of the bike leg, and I wasn’t quite as outgunned as if they’d stayed in the saddle. It was really fun, and I intended to do more off-road triathlon, but then I got sidetracked for a decade racing ITU, non-drafting and the world of on-road triathlon.”
The 31-year-old, originally from Seattle, is currently working on his MBA in entrepreneurship, marketing and analytic management at the University of Chicago. Between studies and the weather, it hasn’t been easy getting ready for XTERRA.
“It’s been a tough spring in Chicago for mountain biking,” said Collins. “Since it got warmer the trails haven’t been dry enough to ride more than a day or two at a time, and I haven’t gotten out to Palos once. Last Sunday I was able to get out on some trails in Chattanooga after racing paracycling nationals as a tandem pilot. Aaron Scheidies and I won the road race on Sunday then borrowed a tandem mountain bike and went out for a spin through the park’s single track system. It was a blast!”
Collins is sure to have a blast on the wildly diverse terrain in Richmond next Sunday n a course that features the city and its jungles, bridges, graveyards, railroads, rapids, ramps, rocks, rivers, flood walls, tunnels, murals, and some really raucous, costumed fans that bbq and party at the toughest sections of the trail.
Here’s a look at the tentative start list for the XTERRA East Champs and who Collins will be up against on June 14:
Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
2 – Chris Ganter – 36, Boise, ID
3 – Craig Evans – 37, Hendersonville, TN
4 – Branden Rakita – 34, Colorado Springs, CO
5 – Alex Modestou – 28, Durham, NC
6 – Brad Zoller – 37, Avon, CO
8 – Braden Currie – 28, Wanaka, NZL
9 – Ryan Ignatz – 36, Boulder, CO
11 – Olly Shaw – 23, Rotorua, NZL
12 – Karsten Madsen – 23, Guelph, Ontario, CAN
NR – Ben Collins – 31, Chicago, Illinois
NR – Ian King – 25, Virginia Beach, VA
Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
2 – Emma Garrard – 33, Park City, UT
3 – Suzie Snyder – 33, Fredericksburg, VA
4 – Kara LaPoint – 28, Truckee, CA
6 – Maia Ignatz – 34, Boulder, CO
7 – Sara McLarty – 32, Clermont, FL
8 – Debby Sullivan – 33, Rocklin, CA
10 – Catherine Sterling – 38, Ayer, MA
11 – Brittany Webster – 27, Canmore, Alberta, CAN
12 – Christine Jeffrey – 42, Tucson, AZ
13 – Rebecca Blatt – 35, Lakewood, CO
17 – Emily Bashton – 35, Richmond, VA
NR – Flora Duffy – 27, Devonshire, Bermuda
Rank = Position in XTERRA U.S. Pro Series after two
NR = Not Ranked in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series