Matt Balzer

Balzer, Sullivan win XTERRA REAL

The stars were out at the 13th annual XTERRA REAL off-road triathlon in Granite Bay, California, the first of four races in The Golden State this year.

2013 overall amateur XTERRA National Champ Matt Balzer from Reno, Nevada took home the men’s title in 1:44:54, a little more than four minutes ahead of the reigning 15-19 division XTERRA National Champ David Duncan.

“David’s progress is amazing,” said Balzer, who played a big role in the success of JP Donovan who won the overall amateur XTERRA National title last year. “Two years ago he was 20min behind me, last year about 8 and this year 4 or less.  I am launching my new team very soon, Sierra Endurance Sports and David is already a teammate!  I figure if he’s going to be beating me soon I need to get him on the team early.”

The top three spots in the women’s race went to the pros – Debby Sullivan (1:58:57), Kara LaPoint (2:00:09) and Kelsey Withrow (2:03:42) while Sian Turner, the 30-34 XTERRA National Champ, took the amateur crown.

“It was a good race this weekend,” said Sullivan. “The conditions were perfect with a beautiful sunny day in the mid-70s and the course was running fast.  It felt great to get back into XTERRA and shake out the cobwebs. I felt like I was able to put together a strong race the whole way through. My swim went well but I knew I had my work cut out on the bike as Kelsey Withrow was racing and she put the whole field to work, way ahead of everyone on the swim. I was able to catch her on the bike about 3/4 of the way through the first lap of the two-lap course but I knew Kara was right on my heels out of the water. I also knew that the one thing that has not suffered from her hand injury was her run. So, I wanted to gain as much as I could on the bike. Turned out to be enough to hold!”

Withrow was indeed impressive in the swim, posting a 12:39 split that was best in the field, men included. Also of note, UFC stars Nick and Nate Diaz were in the field, but the real stars are the organizers at TBF racing.

“They do an amazing job at all their races,” said Balzer.

http://totalbodyfitness.com / Complete results

Brigitte Poor

More From XTERRA Malta

Brigitta Poor from Hungary, who has been racing XTERRA since 2009, picked up her first big win at XTERRA Malta over the weekend. We caught up with her post-race for a few questions:

XTERRA: What was the course like?
Brigitta Poor: I was lucky to spend a whole week on this beautiful island, Malta. We discovered the bike course few days earlier before the race. First time we shocked how rocky is it and how steeps are the climbs. The organizers find a perfect route for this competition with amazing view on the see. One thing what surprised me the muddy sections on the trail because of the previous days rains. To summarize it: it was a fantastic and unforgettable race! Congrats to organizers of XTERRA Malta!

XT: When did you take the lead?
BP: The swim was a little bit shorter but wavy, it helps me get the lead. I was the first woman out of water. After on the bike I gave more minutes to my race mates. Finally on the run I kept my lead.

XT: Is this your first big XTERRA win?
BP: This is my first Pro XTERRA win. Four years ago I won the ITU Cross Triathlon U23 World Champion title.

XT: How long have you been racing XTERRA?
BP: In 2009, Austria was my first XTERRA race. It was love at first sight!

XT: What other races will you do this year?
BP: I plan to go most of the European XTERRA races and at the end of the season XTERRA World Championship on Hawaii if everything goes all right!

We also caught up with the men’s winner, Nico Fernandez of France, who had a breakout win of his own in Malta. Interesting note, Nico was the 20-24 XTERRA World Champion back in 2007.

XT: When did you take the lead?
NF: I took the lead at 6km on the bike, and kept it through the finish.

XT: What were the conditions like?
NF: The conditions were very good: there were good waves, sun and a little wind. I like the dry and sunny conditions. I live in the south of France and it’s the same weather.

XT: Why did you choose to race Malta?
NF: This winter, I prepared for the XTERRA season and Malta was the first race in the European Tour.                                                             It’s also very easy to come from France to Malta.

XT: What other XTERRA races will you do this year?
NF: I will race at three or four XTERRA’s in Europe but I’m not sure which ones yet. My calendar is not organized.                                                             I also hope to be in Maui in November.

XT: How does it feel to get your first big XTERRA win?
NF: I’m very happy, and now I’ll race other XTERRA with the favorites from the World Tour and see where I am.

XT: What other XTERRA races have you done, when was your first?
NF: 3 times XTERRA France, 1x XTERRA Switzerland in 2013, and Maui in the 20-24 age group in 2007.                                                             My first XTERRA is in France in 2007 in Auron.  I’ve always liked XTERRA but I had tried Ironman for a few years but now back with XTERRA.

HONORING LINDA SCATTOLIN IN MALTA

Dario Nardone, the founder and editor of FCZ.it, an Italian-based triathlon website, raced at the XTERRA Malta off-road triathlon on Sunday to honor the memory of his dear friend Linda Scattolin who passed away after an accident while cycling in Stellenbosch, South Africa two weeks ago.

“I raced to remember my great friend Linda,” said Nardone, who finished second in the sprint race. “My girlfriend Emanuela and I accompanied a group of 25 Italian triathletes who all raced in Malta.”

Scattolin was on a training ride with fellow Italian triathlete Edith Niederfriniger who was also injured when a bus lost control and ran into them (read more from slowtwitch).

Ruben Ruzafa

Ruzafa wins First Race of XTERRA Spain Tour

Reigning and two-time XTERRA World Champion Ruben Ruzafa opened the 2015 XTERRA season with a celebratory homecoming race, XTERRA Axarquia – Costa del Sol in Malaga, Spain on Saturday.

“Running at home is special, it allows you to be spend more time with the people you love,” said Ruzafa. “It’s exciting to see so many people here that I’ve known for a long time. It was also a very well organized race and that means a lot to me.”

The race itself was long and hard, and Ruzafa overcame two flats and the overwhelming desire to give up before crossing the line with his goddaughter in his arms with a winning time of 3:51:58, more than six-minutes ahead of runner-up David Bernal.

“On the descent of ‘La Cucaracha’ I punctured the rear wheel and I thought about retiring, but I really wanted to finish and I fought to the transition,” said Ruzafa, who rode the last eight kilometers on the rim.

Nati Gomez won the women’s elite race in 5:13:47, saying “the bike was spectacular, but very hard. I think it was the toughest bike I’ve seen in any circuit, certainly the most demanding on the XTERRA Spain Tour. It had all the right XTERRA characteristics: exigency, environment…”

The race was the first of six in the XTERRA Spain Tour. Next up is the marquee event on the Tour in Plasencia (Extremadura), home to the XTERRA Spain Championship race on June 7.

Learn more at xterraspain.es … and watch them dance here: http://youtu.be/epNCysQlMks

Caroline Steffens

Steffen to Race XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in New South Wales

Caroline Steffen, one of the most decorated triathletes of the 21st century, is the latest in a string of high-profile racers to add their name to the start list of the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship to be held April 18 at Callala Beach in Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia.

“It will be my first off-road triathlon and I’m so excited about it,” said Steffen, winner of Ironman Australia (2011), Challenge Roth (2013), two ITU Long Course World Championships (2010/12), two IM Asia-Pacific titles (2012/14), and two IM European Championships (2011/12).

She joins a women’s elite field that includes reigning XTERRA World Champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda, four-time XTERRA European Tour Champion Renata Bucher of Switzerland, former XTERRA USA National Champion Suzie Snyder, XTERRA Triple Crown champ Jacqui Slack of the United Kingdom, and eight-time World Tour race winner Carina Wasle of Austria.

As for her expectations, Steffen says she plans on “having heaps of fun and gaining some insight into a new sport.”

“I’m just coming off a huge block of training and raced the Ironman Asia Pacific Championships two weeks ago in Melbourne (where she finished third). I had some well-deserved rest and will start ramping up my training again next week. With two weeks to go, I’ll spend some time on my bike to improve my bike skills and will add some open water swims to my usual swim training. Will keep my run the same, nice balance between off-road/track/concrete.”

Although Steffen is new to XTERRA she’s no stranger to mountain bikes and the great outdoors and with a nickname like “Xena the Warrior Princess,” should fit right into the XTERRA scene.

“I was an outdoor kid from a young age and before I started with triathlon I spent most of my time on the mountain bike exploring the Swiss Alps,” said Steffen, who grew up in a small village in Switzerland surrounded by mountains. “Sadly, however, as I moved towards triathlon and relocated to Australia I had to leave my passion – my mountain bike – behind.”

Steffen has made Mooloolaba her home base for six years now but having never visited Callala Beach before said she’s looking forward to discovering the beauty of New South Wales.

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

The men’s elite field is equally stacked with seven-time World Champ Conrad Stoltz of South Africa, hometown hero and two-time Olympian Courtney Atkinson from the Gold Coast, Kiwi adventure racing star Braden Currie, and Australian XTERRA superstar Ben Allen from Wollongong leading the way.

The main event combines a 1.5-kilometer ocean swim at Callala Beach, approximately two and a half hours south on Sydney, with 30-kilometers of mountain biking followed by 10-kilometers of trail running.

The event lures amateur and professional athletes from around the world to New South Wales, and locals flock to the event in pursuit of XTERRA Australia Championship honours. The off-road sports festival weekend also includes a sprint distance off-road triathlon, trail runs, and relay team competitions attracting more than 500 competitors of all ages.

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

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

The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. Presenting sponsors include John Paul Mitchell Systems, the world’s largest privately owned professional salon hair care company, Outrigger Resorts – one of the largest and fastest growing privately-held leisure lodging, retail and hospitality companies in the Asia-Pacific and Oceania regions, 220 Triathlon Australia/NZ, and XTERRA Wetsuits & Boards Australia – the official swim sponsor.

The Green Takeover

XTERRA Joins Paul Mitchell® in The Green Takeover

Honolulu, HI – In an effort to plant 500,000 trees by the end of 2016 as part of its “Tea Tree The Green Takeover” campaign, John Paul Mitchell Systems will plant 30,000 trees with its partner Reforest’Action on behalf of every XTERRA triathlete and trail runner taking part in the XTERRA America Tour this season, and create opportunities for thousands more in the XTERRA community to get involved.

“The Live More lifestyle that XTERRA embodies, and the fundamental belief in taking care of the environment are important to us, and I know it’s important to XTERRA athletes,” said Julie Solwold, the Vice President of Global Sports and Events for John Paul Mitchell Systems.

On Earth Day, April 22, 2015, Paul Mitchell and Reforest’Action will start planting thirty-thousand trees in Peru on behalf of all U.S. XTERRA athletes, and Paul Mitchell is inviting all XTERRA athletes, race directors, families, and friends to plant an additional free tree by using the code XTERRAME at http://xterra.co/PMreforest.

Join The Green Takeover conversation online.  Spread the word about Paul Mitchell’s mission and your contribution by posting our Green Takeover graphic, or upload your own image with the hashtag #GreenTakeover and don’t forget to tag @PaulMitchellUS.

“The XTERRA Tribe cares about nature and preserving it, and preventing global warming and deforestation,” said Janet Clark, XTERRA President.  “I think we’re all very lucky to have Paul Mitchell in our corner, activating for our environment and that of future generations.”

Paul Mitchell’s eco-inspired Tea Tree brand has long supported healthy forests, and for the second straight year in conjunction with Reforest’Action – a Paris-based environmental organization that plants trees worldwide to reforest areas in need –will plant Maya Nut trees in San Martin Province, Peru.

Located in the upper part of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, San Martin Province is being deforested due to logging, mining, agriculture and an influx of settlers. While tropical forests like these only take up 6% of the world’s surface, they house an enormous volume of plant and animal life—approximately one half to three-quarters.

The Tea Tree Green Takover program will also serve to sequester more than 85,000 tons of CO2 during the trees’ lifetime, support rainforest conservation, benefit local communities through better health and nutrition, and protect soil from depletion and erosion caused by deforestation.

Paul Mitchell is the longest-tenured sponsor in the history of XTERRA, with the relationship dating back more than 20 years.  The 2015-2016 Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run Series will feature more than 100 runs in 20+ states across the U.S. ranging from 5 kilometers to 50 kilometers.  Paul Mitchell is also a presenting sponsor of the 2015 XTERRA America Tour, Asia-Pacific, and World Championships.

About John Paul Mitchell Systems
John Paul Mitchell Systems®, a top manufacturer of salon-only professional hair care products, has been serving the professional beauty industry for over 30 years. The company currently produces over 150 professional and consumer products (including the brands Paul Mitchell®, MITCH®, Awapuhi Wild Ginger®, Tea Tree, Paul Mitchell® Pro Tools™, and Neuro™ Tools) that have won over 45 beauty awards. John Paul Mitchell Systems products are sold through distributors to over 100,000 hair salons in North America, and internationally, to thousands of hair salons in 84 countries.  John Paul Mitchell Systems offers complementary education to stylists through a national network of over 1,000 educators, and Paul Mitchell Schools trains over 10,000 future professionals in over 100 locations nationwide. John Paul Mitchell Systems does not test its products on animals, nor has it ever done so. In accordance with CEO John Paul DeJoria’s motto, “Success unshared is failure,” The company has a strong commitment to giving back, supporting a wide range of philanthropic causes both domestically and internationally. For more information, please see our website http://www.paulmitchell.com or visit us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.  For more information about Paul Mitchell® Tea Tree, please contact Lindsey Provost at 310.248.3888 or visit PaulMitchell.com.

About Reforest’Action

Among the leading reforestation organizations in the world, Reforest’Action is a social business that enables companies to concretely act in favour of the environment thanks to an unequalled model. On reforestaction.com, a unique web platform, companies, their colleagues and clients plant trees in Senegal, Peru, India, Guatemala or France. They measure the social and environmental benefits and share this experience on the social media. Since its creation in 2010, Reforest’Action has planted more than 460,000 trees and generated a positive impact on the livelihood of more than 10 000 people. For more information, please see our website, http://www.reforestaction.com.

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 2015 will offer more than 300 XTERRA off-road triathlon and trail running races in 30+ countries worldwide. In addition, TEAM TV has produced more than 350 adventure television shows since 1990.  View samples at www.xterra.tv, and learn more at xterraplanet.com, xterratrailrun.com, and xterraasiapacific.com.

Rom Akerson

Akerson, Paterson win XTERRA Costa Rica

Photos / Results

(Playa Conchal, Costa Rica)- Rom Akerson and Lesley Paterson captured the XTERRA Costa Rica Championship crowns on a hot day at Playa Conchal on Sunday.

In the men’s race Akerson, the hometown favorite, had the fastest bike split of the day and held off a hard-charging Josiah Middaugh on the run to take the tape in 2:19:04.

Middaugh, who finished as the runner-up for the second straight year, was 53-seconds behind and Mauricio Mendez came in third just 12-seconds later.

“Rom was on fire today,” said Middaugh.  “I pre-rode the course with him and could tell he was fit and ready for the course. I had some leg cramping issues early in the bike, but it hurt less to pedal than to coast and stretching on the side of the trail didn’t seem to help. I usually never cramp but it was good to experience once. We had some tight racing up front since I didn’t catch Mauricio until the end of the bike. Rom stayed strong on the run though and we couldn’t catch him.”

Pro Men    
Pl Name Final
1 Rom Akerson, CRC 2:19:04
2 Josiah Middaugh, USA 2:19:57
3 Mauricio Mendez, MEX 2:20:09
4 Sebastian Neef, GER 2:25:50
5 Fabricio Guidelli, ITA 2:37:42
6 Nils Daimer, GER 2:38:19
7 Craig Evans, USA 2:41:02
8 John Garita 2:41:29
9 Julio Ballestero 2:44:55
10 Alex Modestou, USA 3:00:36
Lesley Paterson

In the women’s race two-time XTERRA World Champ Lesley Paterson overcame a shoulder injury, slow swim, and ravaged feet on the run to win her first XTERRA major since 2013.

Her winning time of 2:44:43 was more than a minute faster than Emma Garrard, who took the lead about three miles into the bike and held it through the mid-point of the run when Paterson went flying by.

“I simply couldn’t match Lesley’s pace on the run,” said Garrard, adding that Costa Rica was beautiful and although it was hot, the race started early so a lot of the course was in the shade.

Sara McLarty, who had a stellar swim and finished third in her first-ever XTERRA, posted “my wheels only left the ground once today : ), but it was an amazing experience” on her twitter feed.

Laura Mira Dias from Brazil finished fourth and Christine Jeffrey from Canada came in fifth.

Pro Women  
Pl Name Final
1 Lesley Paterson, GBR 2:44:43
2 Emma Garrard, USA 2:46:22
3 Sara McLarty, USA 3:10:32
4 Laura Mira Dias, BRA 3:11:12
5 Christine Jeffrey, CAN 3:13:41
Podium

2015 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS

XTERRA Costa Rica was the sixth of 40 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the globe could qualify to race at the 20th annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on Nov. 1, 2015.

DATE WORLD TOUR EVENT (Pro Winners)
8-Feb XTERRA Philippines Championship (Brad Weiss / Flora Duffy)
22-Feb XTERRA South Africa Championship (Stuart Marais / Flora Duffy)
7-Mar XTERRA Motatapu (Dougal Allan / Jess Simson & Simone Maier)
28-Mar XTERRA Saipan Championship (Ben Allen / Jacqui Slack)
29-Mar XTERRA Malta (Nicolas Fernandez / Brigitta Poor)
29-Mar XTERRA Costa Rica (Rom Akerson, Lesley Paterson)
11-Apr XTERRA Guam Championship, Piti+
11-Apr XTERRA New Zealand Championship, Rotorua
18-Apr XTERRA Australia / XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship, Jervis Bay, NSW, Australia+
XTERRA Australia Championship
25-Apr XTERRA West Championship, Lake Las Vegas, NV, USA#
25-Apr XTERRA Tahiti, Mataiea
26-Apr XTERRA Reunion, Saint Gilles les bains
2-May XTERRA Malaysia / XTERRA Asian Tour Championship, Langkawi+
10-May XTERRA Brazil, Ilhabela, SP
16-May XTERRA Southeast Championship, Pelham, AL, USA#
USAT Cross Triathlon National Championship
16-May XTERRA Portugal, Golega*
7-Jun XTERRA Spain Championship, Plasencia, Extremadura*
14-Jun XTERRA East Championship, Richmond, VA, USA#
20-Jun XTERRA Greece, Lake Plastira*
27-Jun XTERRA Switzerland Championship, Vallee de Joux*
27-Jun XTERRA Mine over Matter – Canadian Cross Tri Championships, Ontario, Milton, Canada!
4-Jul XTERRA Freedom Fest, Oahu, HI, USA =
5-Jul XTERRA Victoria, B.C., Canada!
5-Jul XTERRA France Championship, Xonrupt, Gerardmer*
11-Jul XTERRA Sweden, Hellasgaarden, Stockholm*
18-Jul XTERRA Mountain Championship, Beaver Creek, CO, USA#
25-Jul XTERRA Parry Sound, McDougall, Ontario, Canada!
26-Jul XTERRA Italy Championship, Abruzzo, Italy*
8-Aug XTERRA Mexico, Tapalpa
8-Aug XTERRA Czech Championship, Prachatice*
15-Aug XTERRA Germany Championship, Zittau*
16-Aug XTERRA Canmore, Alberta, Canada!
22-Aug XTERRA Adventure Fest Maui, Kapalua, HI, USA =
23-Aug XTERRA Quebec – Quebec City, Quebec, Canada!
29-Aug XTERRA Sleeping Giant, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada!
29-Aug XTERRA Denmark, Tilsvilde*
29-Aug XTERRA Japan, Hokkaido+ (start 2016 Asian Tour)
30-Aug XTERRA England / European Championship, Vachery Estate, Surrey*
13-Sep XTERRA Woolastook, Upper Kingsclear, New Brunswick, Canada
19-Sep XTERRA USA Championship, Ogden/Snowbasin, Utah, USA#
1-Nov XTERRA World Championship, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

* European Tour / + Asian Tour / # America Tour / ! Canada Series / = Hawaii qualifiers

UP NEXT

April 11 XTERRA New Zealand ChampionshipXTERRA Guam Championship

 

Nico Fernandez

Fernandez, Poor win XTERRA Malta

(Mellieha, Malta) – Nicolas Fernandez and Brigitta Poor took home the elite titles at the inaugural XTERRA Malta off-road triathlon on Sunday.

It’s the first major XTERRA win for both, and puts them atop leader board of the XTERRA European Tour standings as the first race of the season.

XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas was on-site to take in all the action and brings us this report:

“Look Out there is a new Nico in town.  No sooner does Nico Lebrun retire to become XTERRA’s technical director than Nico Fernandez puts in a dominating performance winning his first XTERRA here on Malta.

Fernandez races for Monaco and I have this theory he is a Monegasque but truly he lives in France.

Another wonderful surprise today was Brigitta Poor’s first XTERRA win in the woman’s race.  Brigitta was first out of the water, built a great lead on the bike and was able to stay well in front of a hard charging Sandra Koblmueller.

The winners were not the only story today.  Finally the weather became Malta Magnificent with sun, blue skies, nice waves and perfect temperatures. The pretty blue sea turned brilliant blue sea and the neat wildflowers simply pumped with color.  It was a perfect Chamber of Commerce day in Malta.

Big problems at the start as the jet ski that was taking the buoys out got the anchor line somehow caught in its jet shaft and could not get it out.  It also meant the prop would not turn inside its housing and the jet ski, buoy, line and anchor all started drifting dangerously close to the rocky cliffs.  We quickly changed the swim route from a U shape to a triangle and finally got things started about 20 minutes late.  Quick swimmer Roger Serrano from Spain was first out followed closely by young Brice Daubord and a bunch that included Jan Pyott and Fernandez were not far behind.

Fernandez quickly caught Daubord and took the lead at about the 6K mark.  He steadily rode away leaving Serrano wondering.  “I had a good race today” he said.  “Not my best ever but everything was fast.  This guy was too strong today.”

Roger was stronger than the rest, however, and although Daubord came back fast on the run coming from 5th off the bike to 3rd overall he cramped a bit and the Spaniard beat him by 15 seconds.

The run here proved to be the game changer.  Francois Carloni had broken a toe on Friday but was able to get up into 3rd off the bike only to be run down by the French trio of Daubord, Fabien Combaluzier, and Clement Briere.  Jan Pyott was having a very strong bike before crashing heavily and injuring his hip.  The Swiss was quite calm about it saying “these things happen.  I was coming up through the field and felt good on the bike when something went wrong.”

The same luck for my pick to win, Kris Coddens.  Coddens was not particularly fast on the swim but was also coming up strong on the bike and then suffered two flats.  “ach, I must have lost 25 minutes fixing one flat and then having another.”  A shame as Coddens is probably the fastest male runner out there and while he pulled back a lot of time it was not enough to gain him points.

Pro Men      
Pl Name Time Points
1 Nicolas Fernandez, FRA 2:09:28 75
2 Roger Serrano, ESP 2:11:37 67
3 Brice Daubord, FRA 2:11:52 61
4 Fabien Combaluzier, FRA 2:13:33 56
5 Clement Briere, FRA 2:14:12 51
6 Francois Carloni, FRA 2:14:32 47
7 Albert Soley, ESP 2:14:43 43
8 Jan Kubicek, CZE 2:18:17 39
9 Xavier  Jove, ESP 2:18:25 36
10 Rory Downie, GBR 2:21:22 33
Also: Fabrizio Bartoli (30), Arthur Serrieres (27), Tim Van Daele (25), Matt Dewis (23), Lars Van der Eerden (21), Simone Calamai, Kris Coddens, Michal Bucek
Brigitta Poor

In the women’s race, as mentioned, our Hungarian lass Brigitta Poor was out of the water first.

“Oh I just kept looking forward and pushing hard” she smiled.  “I did not know how fast Sandra was running but she made up 3 minutes every la !”

Good thing Brigitta had 9 minutes on Sandra coming off the bike.  As for the fleet-footed German “I swallowed so much water in the waves” Sandra said.  “My stomach was upset and I couldn’t get rid of the taste for a long time.”  (Note: she said this while drinking a cold Cisk beer after the finish.)

There was a fabulous battle going on in front of Koblmueller between Elisabetta Curridori and Brit Jessica Roberts.  Roberts had the best of it leading Curridori off the bike but she faded badly on the run.  “I gave so much on the bike I just could not get the energy” she said, but still had a nice 6th place finish.

Unknown to both Curradori and Roberts, Maud Golsteyn was coming up fast.  She had completed the South African Cape Epic the week before and was simply tired.  “That is a cool race” she said, “but it is 8 days of hours on the bike and I am still tired”.

Maud put in the second best female run and passed her way up to 3rd getting by Currodori just near the end and got to the podium by a scant 12 seconds.  Louise Fox had a steady race never faltering to take 5th.

Pro Women    
Pl Name Time Points
1 Brigitta Poor, HUN 2:37:40 75
2 Sandra Koblemueller, AUT 2:40:13 67
3 Maud Golsteyn, NED 2:43:16 61
4 Elisabetta Curridori, ITA 2:43:28 56
5 Louise Fox, GBR 2:44:36 51
6 Jessica Roberts, GBR 2:47:28 47
7 Karin Hansen, SUI 2:53:51 43
8 Danica Spiteri, MLT 2:59:21 39

The day ended well with over 300 liters of Cisk beer available as well as a great buffet from the Radisson Blu kitchens.  Gorgeous handmade glass trophies went to the top 3 in each age group and competitors, friends and families all sat and drank and chatted on the sun drenched deck for hours after the finish.

Our European series started with a true World Class introductory race by the solid Maltese crew with the added benefit of two spanking new XTERRA winners.  Normally I just send photos of the podium finishers but for this race I am including some of the great vistas from the run and bike.

While the winners led nearly wire-to-wire there was a lot of passing and changing of positions.  All this bodes well for a very competitive year.  Make sure you start thinking now about starting 2016 here on Malta.  You could not do better.


2015 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS

XTERRA Malta was the fifth of 40 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the globe could qualify to race at the 20th annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on November 1, 2015.

DATE WORLD TOUR EVENT (Pro Winners)
8-Feb XTERRA Philippines Championship (Brad Weiss / Flora Duffy)
22-Feb XTERRA South Africa Championship (Stuart Marais / Flora Duffy)
7-Mar XTERRA Motatapu (Dougal Allan / Jess Simson & Simone Maier)
28-Mar XTERRA Saipan Championship (Ben Allen / Jacqui Slack)
29-Mar XTERRA Malta (Nicolas Fernandez / Brigitta Poor)
29-Mar XTERRA Costa Rica (Rom Akerson, Lesley Paterson)
11-Apr XTERRA Guam Championship, Piti+
11-Apr XTERRA New Zealand Championship, Rotorua
18-Apr XTERRA Australia / XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship, Jervis Bay, NSW, Australia+
XTERRA Australia Championship
25-Apr XTERRA West Championship, Lake Las Vegas, NV, USA#
25-Apr XTERRA Tahiti, Mataiea
26-Apr XTERRA Reunion, Saint Gilles les bains
2-May XTERRA Malaysia / XTERRA Asian Tour Championship, Langkawi+
10-May XTERRA Brazil, Ilhabela, SP
16-May XTERRA Southeast Championship, Pelham, AL, USA#
USAT Cross Triathlon National Championship
16-May XTERRA Portugal, Golega*
7-Jun XTERRA Spain Championship, Plasencia, Extremadura*
14-Jun XTERRA East Championship, Richmond, VA, USA#
20-Jun XTERRA Greece, Lake Plastira*
27-Jun XTERRA Switzerland Championship, Vallee de Joux*
27-Jun XTERRA Mine over Matter – Canadian Cross Tri Championships, Ontario, Milton, Canada!
4-Jul XTERRA Freedom Fest, Oahu, HI, USA =
5-Jul XTERRA Victoria, B.C., Canada!
5-Jul XTERRA France Championship, Xonrupt, Gerardmer*
11-Jul XTERRA Sweden, Hellasgaarden, Stockholm*
18-Jul XTERRA Mountain Championship, Beaver Creek, CO, USA#
25-Jul XTERRA Parry Sound, McDougall, Ontario, Canada!
26-Jul XTERRA Italy Championship, Abruzzo, Italy*
8-Aug XTERRA Mexico, Tapalpa
8-Aug XTERRA Czech Championship, Prachatice*
15-Aug XTERRA Germany Championship, Zittau*
16-Aug XTERRA Canmore, Alberta, Canada!
22-Aug XTERRA Adventure Fest Maui, Kapalua, HI, USA =
23-Aug XTERRA Quebec – Quebec City, Quebec, Canada!
29-Aug XTERRA Sleeping Giant, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada!
29-Aug XTERRA Denmark, Tilsvilde*
29-Aug XTERRA Japan, Hokkaido+ (start 2016 Asian Tour)
30-Aug XTERRA England / European Championship, Vachery Estate, Surrey*
13-Sep XTERRA Woolastook, Upper Kingsclear, New Brunswick, Canada
19-Sep XTERRA USA Championship, Ogden/Snowbasin, Utah, USA#
1-Nov XTERRA World Championship, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

* European Tour / + Asian Tour / # America Tour / ! Canada Series / = Hawaii qualifiers

UP NEXT

April 11 XTERRA New Zealand Championship

XTERRA Guam Championship

Ben Allen by Mark James

Allen, Slack win XTERRA Saipan Championship

Complete Results / Photos by Mark James

(Saipan, Northern Marianas) – Ben Allen from Australia and Jacqui Slack of Great Britain won the 14th annual XTERRA Saipan Championship race in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on Saturday.

It’s the fourth year in a row Allen won the title, matching Olivier Marceau’s streak from 2004-07.

For Slack, it’s her second Saipan victory in three years.  Both led from wire-to-wire in wet conditions that made the already difficult jungle bike and run courses all the more treacherous.

“Some of the worst conditions I’ve ever raced in. The rain didn’t let up and it made for super slippery conditions,” explained Allen.

Allen, one of the sports best swimmers, used those skills to bridge an early one-minute gap over Bradley Weiss and backed it up with the fastest bike and run splits of the day to win in convincing fashion with a time of 2:40:25, more than six-minutes ahead of Weiss.

“The climbs on the bike where the only place to really push because you had to be so careful on the descents not to crash.  The descents were going to be make or break your day so if you could ride within your own ability and stay upright you were in for a good day.”

For Weiss, who was forced to take some time off from training leading into this race because of a troublesomeiliotibial band (IT band), the results are satisfying.

“Obviously I am far from my best shape now but was still very excited for my trip out to the Islands. My hopes are to finish well in the XTERRA Asian Tour and take some momentum into the U.S. Tour,” said Weiss.

“All being said I am optimistic for the future and feel confident this injury is finally behind me. It’s been a frustrating few months but the future looks bright and for that I am excited.”

Former XTERRA Japan Champ Takahiro Ogasawara finished in third, followed by Markus Benesch of Austria and Aleksandr Dorovskikh from Russia.

Pro Men        
Pl Name Final Swim Bike Run
1 Ben Allen, AUS 2:40:25 15:57 1:29:54 54:34
2 Brad Weiss, RSA 2:46:45 17:10 1:33:03 56:32
3 Takahiro Ogasawara, JPN 2:48:19 19:59 1:32:06 56:14
4 Markus Benesch, AUT 2:52:24 18:25 1:36:39 57:20
5 Aleksandr Dorovskikh, RUS 2:55:51 20:02 1:38:14 57:35
6 Joe Miller, PHI 3:02:33 22:10 1:39:11 1:01:12
7 David Esposito, FRA 3:13:39 20:32 1:48:16 1:04:51
8 Kaon Cho, KOR 3:25:43 20:12 2:03:07 1:02:24
Jacqui Slack by Mark James

In the women’s race Slack embraced the intimidating conditions right from the start.  She was first elite woman out of the water, had the best bike split, and sailed into the finish with a winning time of 3:02:01, more than five minutes ahead of last year’s winner Carina Wasle of Austria.

“I thrive on the more challenging conditions,” said Slack.  “I love the added dimension the rain throws in, and always seem to perform well when it’s slick and muddy. My biggest challenge was myself today. I knew I was coming into the race fit but I was more concerned about being recovered from a 100k MTB race I did last weekend in Melbourne.”

Mieko Carey, who was introduced to the sport here in Saipan more than a decade ago, finished in third.  Seven-time XTERRA Saipan Champ Renata Bucher placed fourth, and Daz Parker was fifth.

Pro Women        
Pl Name Final Swim Bike Run
1 Jacqui Slack, GBR 3:02:01 18:34 1:42:59 1:00:28
2 Carina Wasle, AUT 3:07:33 20:06 1:48:56 58:31
3 Mieko Carey, JPN 3:20:45 19:25 1:57:03 1:04:17
4 Renata Bucher, SUI 3:22:11 20:09 1:52:27 1:09:35
5 Daz Parker, GBR 3:36:40 22:20 2:02:53 1:11:27
6 Belinda Hadden, AUS 3:49:19 20:11 2:11:00 1:18:08

 

XTERRA SAIPAN ALL-TIME PRO WINNERS
Year Men Women
2002 Mike Vine Jamie Whitmore
2003 Jason Chalker Jamie Whitmore
2004 Olivier Marceau Jamie Whitmore
2005 Olivier Marceau Renata Bucher
2006 Olivier Marceau Renata Bucher
2007 Olivier Marceau Renata Bucher
2008 Andrew Noble Renata Bucher
2009 Sam Gardner Renata Bucher
2010 Sam Gardner Renata Bucher
2011 Sam Gardner Shonny Vanlandingham
2012 Ben Allen Renata Bucher
2013 Ben Allen Jacqui Slack
2014 Ben Allen Carina Wasle
2015 Ben Allen Jacqui Slack
Brad Weiss by Mark James

WEISS, SLACK LEAD XTERRA ASIAN TOUR POINTS SERIES

The XTERRA Saipan Championship was the second of five races in the 2015 XTERRA Asian Tour that will crown series champions at the season finale in Langkawi, Malaysia this May.

With his runner-up performance today coupled with his Philippines win, Weiss now has 190 points followed by Allen with 182 (he was third in the Philippines).  In the women’s chase Slack also has 190 points, following her runner-up performance to Flora Duffy in the Philippines with a win today.

The five majors are XTERRA Philippines, XTERRA Saipan, XTERRA Guam on April 11 in Piti, the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship on April 18 in New South Wales, Australia, and XTERRA Malaysia – which will double as the XTERRA Asian Tour Championship race – on May 2 in Langkawi.  (Note: The XTERRA Japan Championship in Hokkaido on August 29 will serve as the first race of the 2016 XTERRA Asian Tour.)

The top 15 amateur, Asian-elite, and professional racers at each event will earn points, with double points being offered at the finale in Malaysia.  Racers count their best three scores to determine champions in each division.

The XTERRA Asian Tour will award a prize bonus of $10,000 USD to the top five pro men and women in the final standings ($2,000 for 1st, $1,500-2nd, $800-3rd, $400-4th, $300-5th).

In all, more than $100,000 in prize money for pros will be awarded on the XTERRA Asian Tour.  There are $15,000 USD payouts at the Philippines, Saipan, Guam, and Malaysia races, and $50,000 AUD awarded at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Australia, plus the 10K bonus to the series’ top performers.

For further details on the 2015 XTERRA Asian Tour visit www.xterraasia.com, and for more on the XTERRA Asian Tour Championship in Malaysia visit www.xterramy.com, supported by Malaysia Major Event.

2015 XTERRA Asian Tour Standings (After 2)
Pros count their best 3-of-5 races, Malaysia counts double

PRO MEN        
Pl Name PHI Saipan Totals
1 Brad Weiss, RSA 100 90 190
2 Ben Allen, AUS 82 100 182
3 Joe Miller, PHI 63 63 126
4 Mauricio Mendez, MEX 90 x 90
5 Takahiro Ogasawara, JPN x 82 82
6 Brodie Gardner, AUS 75 x 75
7 Markus Benesch, AUT x 75 75
8 Charlie Epperson, USA 69 x 69
9 Aleksandr Dorovskikh, RUS x 69 69
10 Michal Bucek, SVK 58 x 58
11 David Esposito, FRA x 58 58
12 Kaon Cho, KOR x 53 53
PRO WOMEN      
Pl Name PHI Saipan Totals
1 Jacqui Slack, GBR 90 100 190
2 Mieko Carey, JPN 75 82 157
3 Renata Bucher, SUI 69 75 144
4 Daz Parker, GBR 63 69 132
5 Flora Duffy, BER 100 x 100
6 Carina Wasle, AUT x 90 90
7 Dimity-Lee Duke, AUS 82 x 82
8 Belinda Hadden, AUS x 63 63
9 Aya Stevens, SVK 58 x 58

BIG DAY FOR AMATEURS TOO

Chuck Fortier from Canada and Kyoco Urashima of Japan captured the XTERRA Saipan Championship amateur titles today, and dozens more qualified for the XTERRA USA and World Championship races with strong performances.

For Fortier, a policeman by trade, it’s his third island win in a row as he captured both the XTERRA Saipan and Guam amateur titles last year.

Of special note is Tyce Mister (pictured), one of the pioneers of XTERRA in Saipan, who holds the distinction of being the only athlete to have competed in all 14 XTERRA Saipan races since its inception in 2002.

2015 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS

The XTERRA Saipan Championship was the fourth of 40 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the globe could qualify to race at the 20th annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on November 1, 2015.

DATE WORLD TOUR EVENT (Pro Winners)
8-Feb XTERRA Philippines Championship (Brad Weiss / Flora Duffy)
22-Feb XTERRA South Africa Championship (Stuart Marais / Flora Duffy)
7-Mar XTERRA Motatapu (Dougal Allan / Jess Simson & Simone Maier)
28-Mar XTERRA Saipan Championship (Ben Allen / Jacqui Slack)
29-Mar XTERRA Malta, Mellieha, Malta*
29-Mar XTERRA Costa Rica, Playa Reserva Conchal
11-Apr XTERRA Guam Championship, Piti+
11-Apr XTERRA New Zealand Championship, Rotorua
18-Apr XTERRA Australia / XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship, Jervis Bay, NSW, Australia+
XTERRA Australia Championship
25-Apr XTERRA West Championship, Lake Las Vegas, NV, USA#
25-Apr XTERRA Tahiti, Mataiea
26-Apr XTERRA Reunion, Saint Gilles les bains
2-May XTERRA Malaysia / XTERRA Asian Tour Championship, Langkawi+
10-May XTERRA Brazil, Ilhabela, SP
16-May XTERRA Southeast Championship, Pelham, AL, USA#
USAT Cross Triathlon National Championship
16-May XTERRA Portugal, Golega*
7-Jun XTERRA Spain Championship, Plasencia, Extremadura*
14-Jun XTERRA East Championship, Richmond, VA, USA#
20-Jun XTERRA Greece, Lake Plastira*
27-Jun XTERRA Switzerland Championship, Vallee de Joux*
27-Jun XTERRA Mine over Matter – Canadian Cross Tri Championships, Ontario, Milton, Canada!
4-Jul XTERRA Freedom Fest, Oahu, HI, USA =
5-Jul XTERRA Victoria, B.C., Canada!
5-Jul XTERRA France Championship, Xonrupt, Gerardmer*
11-Jul XTERRA Sweden, Hellasgaarden, Stockholm*
18-Jul XTERRA Mountain Championship, Beaver Creek, CO, USA#
25-Jul XTERRA Parry Sound, McDougall, Ontario, Canada!
26-Jul XTERRA Italy Championship, Abruzzo, Italy*
8-Aug XTERRA Mexico, Tapalpa
8-Aug XTERRA Czech Championship, Prachatice*
15-Aug XTERRA Germany Championship, Zittau*
16-Aug XTERRA Canmore, Alberta, Canada!
22-Aug XTERRA Adventure Fest Maui, Kapalua, HI, USA =
23-Aug XTERRA Quebec – Quebec City, Quebec, Canada!
29-Aug XTERRA Sleeping Giant, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada!
29-Aug XTERRA Denmark, Tilsvilde*
29-Aug XTERRA Japan, Hokkaido+ (start 2016 Asian Tour)
30-Aug XTERRA England / European Championship, Vachery Estate, Surrey*
13-Sep XTERRA Woolastook, Upper Kingsclear, New Brunswick, Canada
19-Sep XTERRA USA Championship, Ogden/Snowbasin, Utah, USA#
1-Nov XTERRA World Championship, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

* European Tour / + Asian Tour / # America Tour / ! Canada Series / = Hawaii qualifiers

UP NEXT

April 11 XTERRA New Zealand Championship

XTERRA Guam Championship

XTERRA Saipan

XTERRA On! Majors Abound This Weekend

Hundreds of amateurs and more than 50 of XTERRA’s fastest elite men and women will toe the start line at one of the three XTERRA championship races being held this weekend.

The “Crown Jewel” of XTERRA is in Saipan, the largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands. There’s a World Tour newcomer in Malta, the largest island in an archipelago in the central Mediterranean.  And Costa Rica, although technically not an island, certainly looks and feels like one.

Each will dish out amazing experiences on top of qualifying spots into the 20th XTERRA World Championship race in Maui to the fastest amateurs while elites chase cash and glory.

All three are bucket-list destinations for the adventure traveler … which one do you wish you were going to?

XTERRA SAIPAN – MARCH 28

The “original exotic” race on the XTERRA World Tour returns for the 14th year Saturday and Aussie Ben Allen and Austrian Carina Wasle are back on island to defend their titles.

Saipan is located in the middle of the Western Pacific Ocean, offering up azure colored water, a powder blue sky, light island breezes, and tropical 85-degree days prevail year-round providing the perfect venue for XTERRA.

“The relaxed island lifestyle allows you to unwind and just focus on the simple things in life,” said Allen, who has won the last three Saipan titles.

The place is so alluring that world-class athletes like Olivier Marceau and Renata Bucher make it an annual trek.

“It’s not an XTERRA season without a stay in Saipan,” said Bucher, a seven-time winner here.

It’s a great place to do some early season training, and always offers a classic road tri – the Tagaman – the weekend before or after. This year Tagaman was before XTERRA and won by Allen and Mieko Carey (Bucher was 2nd in the women’s race, Marceau 3rd in the men’s race).

In Saturday’s XTERRA, Allen will be up against XTERRA Philippines Champion Bradley Weiss from South Africa.

While Weiss got the better of Allen in Albay in February this year, Allen was almost 10-minutes faster than Weiss in Saipan last year.

After finishing second at his home race XTERRA South Africa Weiss has been dealing with a painful iliotibial band (IT band) issue that put him on the shelf for a few weeks but is grateful the rest seems to have been positive for him.

“XTERRA Saipan and Guam are races I look so forward to mostly because of the people I get to stay with, and the triathlon community these unique events draw each year,” said Weiss. “I am looking at the next few weeks as a building phase and will be training through most if not all of the races just to try and build my fitness again. I look forward to racing injury free again but I hold no illusions of my current form and know there is a long road ahead to full fitness.”

Other international elites in the mix include former XTERRA Japan Champion Takahiro Ogasawara, Philippines star Joe Miller, Markus Benesch from Austria, David Esposito from New Caledonia, and Aleksandr Dorovskikh from Russia.

In the women’s race last year’s champ, Wasle, will be up against the 2013 Saipan Champ Jacqui Slack from the UK, and the 2012 and 7x Champ Renata Bucher of Switzerland, Daz Parker from London, and local favorite Mieko Carey representing Saipan, Guam, and Japan.

XTERRA first ventured to Saipan in 2002, and 14-years later is still taking racers through caves where Japanese soldiers hid and fought from during the Battle of Saipan in 1944. The race starts on the same beach where Marines launched their attack, then the bike course traverses nearly every inch of the island where the battles took place.

“The dense jungle on island is forever challenging and there is always a hidden gem around every corner,” said Allen.

Triathlete Magazine called it one of the ‘World’s Best” races in 2011, and New York Times bestselling author Marty Dugard wrote about his adventures at XTERRA Saipan in his book, To Be A Runner.

There are a lot of reasons to love Saipan – the people, history, and adventurous course are a few, however, the most recurring comment you’ll hear when talking to alumni, “it’s so much fun.”

The XTERRA Tribe owes a huge debt of gratitude to the island locals who have embraced this race as their own, and particularly Eric Tydingco, who was born in Saipan and also produces the XTERRA Guam Championship. Tydingco has been instrumental in the sports success in the Western Pacific over the past decade, and has also been a force to be reckoned with at the after-parties as part of a band that has rocked the night away following XTERRA races in Saipan, Guam, and Maui races.

Josiah Middaugh

XTERRA COSTA RICA – MARCH 29

The second-running of the XTERRA Costa Rica Championship in Playa Conchal on Sunday will be without last year’s men’s winner Leo Chacon who is busy trying to make it to Rio and women’s winner Shonny Vanlandingham who retired.

There is no shortage of worthy candidates ready to stake their claim to the titles, however, as a star-studded field from around the world is in Central America to compete for the crown.

The men’s elite race includes XTERRA U.S. Pro Series champion Josiah Middaugh (pictured, second at XTERRA Worlds last year), the young-gun Mauricio Mendez from Mexico (5th at XTERRA Worlds last year), local stand-out Rom Akerson, America tour regulars Craig Evans (who will be celebrating his 37th birthday on Sunday) and Alex Modestou, as well as German representatives Nickolas Daimer and Sebastian Neef.

Last year Middaugh, Mendez, Akerson, Evans, and Neef finished 2nd through 6th, respectively.

Emma Garrard

The women’s race sees the return of two-time XTERRA World Champ Lesley Paterson, who will have her work cut-out for her against the likes of XTERRA National Champion Emma Garrard, last year’s runner-up Christine Jeffrey, XTERRA newbie (but road tri vet) Sara McLarty, and Laura Mira Diaz from Brazil.

“I am beyond excited, it has always been on my bucket list of countries to visit,” said Garrard, who was recently named USA Triathlon’s Elite Off-Road Athlete of the Year. “I am bringing the family so I am just as excited to have some beach time and check out the wildlife as I am to race. Normally Vegas is my first race of the season so it will be great to have another race under my belt and see where I’m at compared to the other women.”

We asked Emma what her off-season has been like, and here is what she said…

“I feel like I take more of an off-season than most pro triathletes as mentally and logistically I cannot race 12 months a year. I have a two-year-old now so running intervals feels quite relaxing in comparison. I’ve taken on a year-round job as a coach for Park City Nordic so it’s been a lot of fun to inspire the next generation of endurance athletes. The winter in Park City has been mild which means I’ve done a lot more running, biking and swimming than usual. Although cross-country skiing is usually my secret off-season weapon, I did more mountain biking because the trails were dry. Despite the mild weather it was my first year since living in Park City I’ve had a season pass so I had more days telemark skiing than usual.”

As for the competition in the women’s race, Garrard says “Lesley always shows up at a race prepared to win and has shown she’s fit by her result in the Pro XCT last weekend. There will be some of the fastest swimmers in the sport there so I will have my work cut out for me to close the gap on the bike. Plus, there will be some local competitors who I’m sure are used to the humidity and know the course.”

Fans can watch all the action go down live with a streaming broadcast Sunday, March 29, starting at 6:45 a.m. MST on www.Teletica.com. Alternatively follow the links from http://www.costaricaxterra.com/ or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TriatlonCostaRica?fref=ts

2014 XTERRA Costa Rica highlights

XTERRA MALTA – MARCH 29

The inaugural XTERRA Malta off-road triathlon on Sunday has attracted hundreds of athletes from 19 countries to the beautiful island nation in the Mediterranean.

As the first major on the XTERRA European Tour it’s a great chance for racers to collect some early points towards winning divisional titles and qualify for Maui at the same time. The elite field is strong and deep and will provide a good indication of who has done what in the off-season.

The men’s start list is highlighted by 2014 XTERRA Greece Champion Francois Carloni from France who finished third in the European Tour last year.

“I’m ready, but not sure to be the favorite,” said Carloni. “Brice Daubord trained hard, Nicolas Fernandez is a very good athlete, Roger Seranno looks good, and I never have topped Coddens.”

Daubord (FRA) finished 11th at XTERRA Worlds last year, Serrano (ESP) was in the mix at XTERRA South Africa last month where he finished third, and Coddens (BEL) was super impressive in his last race of 2014 when he placed runner-up to Conrad Stoltz at XTERRA England.

Others in the mix include Jan Pyott (5th on Euro Tour last year), Albert Soley (15th at Worlds last year), Clement Briere (former age group World Champ), and a cast of others featuring Henry Sleight (GBR), Jim Thijs (BEL), Tm Van Daele (BEL), Simone Calamai (ITA), Fabrizio Bartoli (ITA), Xavier Jove Riart (ESP), Arthur Serrieres (FRA), Rory Downie (GBR), Matt Dewis (GBR), Lars Van der Eerden (NED), and Fabien Combaluzier (FRA).

The women’s field features four racers who finished in the top 10 of the 2014 XTERRA European Tour standings including Brigitta Poor (HUN), Maud Golsteyn (NED), Louise Fox (GBR), Sandra Koblmueller (AUT), and Malta’s-own Danica Spiteri. Others in the mix include Jessica Roberts (GBR), Elisabetta Curridori (ITA), Nicole Olivari (ITA), and Karin Hansen (SUI).

On top of some great racing action Malta looks like an incredible place to explore.

“Whilst the beautiful beaches and rugged nature reserves are some of the most beautiful spots in the world, Malta’s archaeological and historical setting makes it a haven for travelers interested in how civilization shaped the way we live,” said race director Nathan Farrugia of Hellfire Events.

“Interestingly, Malta’s neolithic temples are older that Stonehenge and the Pyramids. Malta has been the melting pot of Greek, Roman, Norman, Anglo-Saxon, British and Italian civilizations, but is perhaps best known for the Knights of Malta, that fought off the invading Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, in the living monument cities of Valletta and Mdina.”

The race itself covers every aspect of what makes the Mediterranean the sought after destination that it is, said race co-founder Nathan Farrugia of Hellfire Events.

“The swim is held in the crystal blue sea of the Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, with the bike and run in two side by side nature reserves, The Majjistral and the Gnejna Plateau.”

The XTERRA weekend will also feature a sprint and team relay event, as well as a kids swim-run-swim experience on Golden Bay (weather permitting).

Putting it all together is the passionate husband and wife team of Nathan and Deirdre Farrugia.

“We are avid outdoor enthusiasts that find inspiration in nature, so it came as no surprise that we looked at the XTERRA movement as the next stage in our Team Hellfire’s development. We are a family of athletes, organizers and friends above all, that aim to marry experience, nature appreciation and personal challenge through our events,” said Nathan Farrugia. “Organizing a Malta XTERRA, for us and our tiny but beautiful country in the Mediterranean, is the perfect way to reach all our goals as individuals and on behalf of our sporting friends.”

Learn more at http://www.maltaxterra.com/ on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/XTERRAMalta. and about the island www.visitmalta.com.