Wong

Enrique Wong, The Original Tico of XTERRA

As the saying goes, there is a first for everything, and the first-ever XTERRA racer (and organizer) from Costa Rica was Enrique Wong.

“The first time I saw XTERRA was in a magazine. It was an ad for XTERRA Half Moon Bay in Northern California, and when I saw it I told myself it would be my next event,” explained XTERRA Costa Rica organizer Enrique Wong from Unlimited Productions.

At the time Wong was working for the airlines and consumed with travel, training, and work and XTERRA was just laying the foundation for the sport across the U.S.

“The combination of mountain biking and triathlon was amazing to me,” said Wong. “At the time I was training on a road bike but I was born and raised close to the nature, the beach, the mountains, and that’s how I lived.  I’m an adventure guy and I saw that XTERRA was pure adventure mixed with the adrenaline of racing and excitement of travel.  It was a perfect combination of all the things that I loved.”

Wong chased XTERRA around the world – to Richmond, Virginia and to Mexico and Temecula and to Maui for Worlds, and he fell in love with it all.

“XTERRA for me is a way of living, Pura Vida!” he exclaimed.

We caught up with Wong this week as he prepares to host the XTERRA Pan America Tour season-opener this Sunday at Playa Reserva Conchal in the Province of Guanacaste.

XTERRA: Why did you decide to produce XTERRA in Costa Rica?
Enrique Wong: When I started XTERRA I really got attached to it so I’ve kept racing all these years. At one point, maybe 10 years ago, I thought why not have an international event in Costa Rica.  We have everything here, the nature, the people, everything for a great XTERRA event and I knew I could do it.  Back then I was the only one going back and forth to XTERRA, but I thought if I could expose the sport to our people they would love it too. So that became my goal, to bring this event to the Costa Rican people.

XT: Have you seen the sport growing in Costa Rica?
EW: It’s been amazing. One of the first guys I came up with was Rom Akerson, and now his kids are on to XTERRA as well.   I saw little kids that were 15 when I brought XTERRA here for the first time and now they are competing to go to Hawaii. It’s really nice.  I’ve been telling them the experience of racing Worlds. Being so young and traveling to Hawaii is a dream for them, as it was a dream for me at the time. The main thing is, as I’ve seen in Maui, is to be part of the family of XTERRA, the XTERRA Tribe, and that is how they feel now.

XT: It seems you are not only showing XTERRA to Costa Rica, but you are also showing the beauty of Costa Rica to the world?
EW: Yes, we have 20 countries represented this year. It is important for us because the government is looking to us to see how these types of events are powerful ways to showcase our country.

XT: You’ve also put a lot of effort into televising the event, tell us about that.
EW: Last year we had people from all over the world, New Zealand, Australia, South America, Europe, South Africa and the U.S. tuning in to watch online (7:30am MST, find link to live broadcast at www.costaricaxterra.com). It’s also broadcast on the biggest cable channel in Costa Rica at the same time.

XT: Tell us when your love for traveling started.
EW: When I was 11 I was an exchange student to Wisconsin, and I’ve loved experiencing other cultures and places ever since. Mixing the sport which I love with traveling is the perfect way to live I’ll say.

XT: What kind of experience are you hoping to deliver with XTERRA?
EW: The experience we want to give all the racers is about the community, to have that interaction with Costa Rican people if they’re from other countries; and for the local people to feel at home and be well treated at the event.

XT: What do you think about the new XTERRA Pan American Tour?
EW: I just love how XTERRA has been growing, and it’s been growing really nice in a business way. I believe the Pan Am Tour is going to work.  I know it’s going to work.  We will work to have a really good interaction between all the countries involved. I know the people from Latin America will be very interested in racing the Pan American Tour.

XT: Why do you choose this date in March for XTERRA Costa Rica?
EW: The idea is to take visiting athletes from the winter season and provide them with a small break and start their training and racing season in some warm weather. Instead of going to Florida, come to Costa Rica and spend a week here.  It’s close to Easter week so they can have a vacation mixed with a race in warm weather and the whole family. That is what we are trying to communicate.

XT: Tell us a little bit about the course in Conchal.
EW: Sure The swim is two loops, 750-meter each, with a beach run in between. The water is perfect. The bike starts with some pretty loose sand and they’ll ride on the beach where there are no shadows, and you see the blue water in front of you, sand is shining in your eyes. Here you think, this is XTERRA. It’s a 30K bike and then a 10K run. It’s a really nice course in between the swimming, riding, and running. Some trails on the bike are like riding on the volcano rocks, loose, light rocks. It’s a whole mix of what Maui has as well, a good combination of what to expect from XTERRA.

XT: Is there a signature spot on the course?
EW: Yes, Rompe Piernas (translated to Breaking Legs Hill).  It’s a big climb and then really technical downhill about 10K into the bike.

XT: What can racers expect to see this weekend?
EW: You’re going to see friendly people, Pura Vida people. It’ll be hot. We tell everybody just to hydrate all the time. Good thing is while the run isn’t easy, there are a lot of shadows because it’s in the jungle, so that is nice.

XT: Is it hard for you to be director and not racer, do you wish you were out there?
EW: Yes, of course, I wish I could race but it’s also really satisfying to put on the race.  My goal was to bring an XTERRA here to Costa Rica for everybody. There are a lot of people who cannot travel to races.  Hosting it here gives this same experience, same quality of event as other places, but in their hometown. For me it’s satisfying to accomplish that down here.

XT: Tell us a little bit about your company.
EW: It’s called Unlimited Productions. My idea is to have this really open concept of company which produces sport, TV, and merchandise. Not just triathlon, but other races as well. The idea is to be wide open. We’ve set it up so we have departments for logistics, departments for TV.  We have a really good, very experienced crew who are passionate for sport and for their country. It’s also very important for us to treat the age groupers same as the pros. To show their value and importance to us.  The pros give us the image, but the age group athletes give us the foundation so it is our mission to treat them well.

Costa Rica

Pura Vida Kick-Off for the XTERRA Pan Am Tour Sunday in Costa Rica

The “Live More” spirit of XTERRA meets the essence of “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica when the first race of the inaugural XTERRA Pan American Tour gets underway on the beautiful beaches of Guanacaste this Sunday, March 20.

XTERRA fans from around the world are invited to tune-in to the live coverage of the event starting at 7:30 a.m. local time (also 7:30am in Colorado and Tapalpa, 9:30am in New York, 10:30am in Argentina and Brazil, 2:30pm in France, and 3:30pm in Stellenbosch). The link to the broadcast URL will be published at costaricaxterra.com and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/XterraCostaRica/) Sunday.

What viewers can expect to see is hundreds of athletes from more than 20 countries challenging Mother Nature at the beach resort of Reserva Conchal. Among those athletes line up for XTERRA Costa Rica is the sports very-best racer, reigning XTERRA World Champion Josiah Middaugh.

fp-xterracr-conchal

Middaugh, who has finished 2nd to local triathlon legends Leonardo Chacon in 2014 and Rom Akerson last year, is hoping the third time is a charm for him in Costa Rica.  Winning won’t be an easy task for the champ, however, as he just arrived today from a snowstorm in Colorado that was bad enough that he had to pull over to the side of the road on his drive to the airport for an hour to wait for it to subside.

“It’ll be interesting, that’s for sure, but I’m really looking forward to it” said Middaugh. “I haven’t been on the dirt yet this year, I’m on a new bike, and conditions are just a little different here than back home.  Last year I cramped on the run for the first-time ever during a race so I tried to prepare myself a little bit this year.  Did some steam room training at the Westin.”

Akerson, on the other hand, lives and trains year-round in the hot and dry tropical forests nearby where all of nature is his steam room.

“Costa Rica is an amazing place and it’s my home country, so I think it is a perfect place to have an XTERRA,” said Akerson. “It really is a beautiful country. We have nice beaches, great weather, and amazing people.  Plus, we believe in “Pura Vida” which means pure life. XTERRA’s motto is “Live More” which has about the same idea.”

XTERRA European Tour runner-up Francois Carloni is also on the elite men’s list, and has been training in Costa Rica in the build-up to this event. Carloni is joined by fellow Frenchmen Karl Shaw and Pierre Roblot, American Greg Schott, who won the 15-19 XTERRA National Championship last year, and local elite Federico Villegas.

In the women’s race Myriam Guillot-Boisset, who won XTERRA Malaysia and finished 4th at the XTERRA World Championship last year, headlines a field that includes three of the top 13 women from the 2015 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series in Kara LaPoint (5th), Rebecca Blatt (10th), and Caroline Colonna (13th).

We will also see the XTERRA debut of American long-distance road triathlon star Caitlin Snow, winner of IM France last year, French elite Camille Donat, and Brazilian XTERRA standout Sabrina Gobbo.

In the amateur race there are representatives from each of the Pan American Tour countries – the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Brazil, and the hosts from Costa Rica.

Of particular interest is the reigning XTERRA Warrior Award winner and cancer survivor Dave Desantis, who is on a mission to compete in 16 XTERRA races in 16 countries around the world this season with a goal to raise more than $16,000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. This is the third XTERRA of the year for Desantis, who raced XTERRA Philippines and XTERRA South Africa in February, and he’s already raised more than $10,000 towards his fundraising goal.

The inaugural XTERRA Pan American Tour was created this year to connect the sports’ major events in South, Central, and North America as well as the Caribbean.

The inaugural 10-stop series for both amateur and professional athletes starts Sunday and concludes September 17 with the XTERRA Pan American Championship race in Ogden, Utah.  In between are two majors in the U.S., two in Canada, and one each in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

2016 XTERRA PAN AMERICAN TOUR

March 20 – XTERRA Costa Rica (Playa Reserva Conchal) *SILVER
March 26 – XTERRA Argentina (Dique Ullum, San Juan) *GOLD
May 7 – XTERRA Brazil (Ilhabela) *SILVER
May 21 – XTERRA Oak Mountain (Pelham, AL, USA) *GOLD
June 25 – XTERRA Mine Over Matter (Milton, ON, CAN) *SILVER
July 10 – XTERRA Victoria (B.C., CAN) *SILVER
July 16 – XTERRA Beaver Creek (Avon, CO, USA) *GOLD
July 31 – XTERRA Dominican Republic (Barahona) *GOLD
Aug 6 – XTERRA Mexico (Tapalpa) *GOLD
Sep 17 – XTERRA Pan American Championship (Ogden, UT, USA)

“Creating the Pan American Series aligns our events in the Americas with our structure in Europe and Asia-Pacific regions, and provides a platform for our Canadian, Latin & South American friends to be part of a competitive regional series of events,” said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas.

The XTERRA Pan American Tour will feature Gold and Silver level events, just like the XTERRA European Tour, where Gold events award points on a 100-point basis and Silver races award points on a 75-point basis.

GOLD POINTS: 100-Point Basis

1=100, 2=90, 3=82, 4=75, 5=69, 6=63. 7=58, 8=53, 9=49, 10=45, 11=41, 12=37, 13=34, 14=31, 15=28

SILVER POINTS: 75-Point Basis                                                            

1=75, 2=67, 3=61, 4=56, 5=51, 6=47, 7=43, 8=39, 9=36, 10=33, 11=30, 12=27, 13=25, 14=23, 15=21

Gold events offer the equivalent of $15,000 USD in elite prize money to the top seven men and women, plus 50 spots into the XTERRA World Championship for amateurs.

Silver races offer the equivalent of $7,500 USD in elite prize money to the top five men and women, plus at least 25 spots into the XTERRA World Championship for amateurs (the exception is XTERRA Brazil, which offers 50 spots to Worlds).

The XTERRA Pan American Championship race in Utah will offer $20,000 USD for the race and distribute an additional $60,000 USD in prize money to the top 10 men and women in the final XTERRA Pan American Pro Series rankings.

“I think it could really re-energize some of the pros that might be stale with the same races and open up to some other pro athletes to be competitive, especially in Mexico, Canada, Central and South America,” said Middaugh, who plans on racing six or seven of the 10 events on the Tour this year.

Elites and amateurs competing in the XTERRA Pan American Tour count their best four scores (two Gold, two Silver) from the first nine events plus whatever they get, or don’t get, at the XTERRA Pan American Championship race which will be scored at the 100-point level.  Five Scores Total.

Thus, the final point total combines an athletes best two Gold scores, best two Silver scores, plus their XTERRA Pan American Championship race points.

Athletes can race in as many of the five Gold events as they like, but just their best two will count at the 100-point level, with other Gold finishes counting at the 75-point level.

Amateur athletes need to race at least two (any two) XTERRA Pan American Tour majors listed in schedule above to be eligible for Tour honors at the end of the season, and athletes from all nations are welcome to race in the one-day XTERRA Pan American Championship race as no qualification is necessary.

“This point structure gives amateurs and elites from all over the region a legitimate shot at the Pan Am Title,” said XTERRA President Janet Clark. “It also encourages exploration and an opportunity to discover some amazing places.”

Learn more at www.xterrapanam.com.

Dave Spence

Saipan By Spence

Brodie Gardner and Carina Wasle won the pro races at the XTERRA Saipan Championship on Saturday (read report here/watch highlight video here) but to get a real feel for the charm of the island and the camaraderie of the XTERRA Tribe we turn to the one-and-only David Spence.

“Disco Dave” had a memorable day in Saipan.  He won the amateur title (not bad for a guy representing the 55-59 division) and finished 8th overall and now leads his division in the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour standings with two wins (Saipan and the Philippines) and one 2nd place finish (Japan).

On top of being a die-hard racer Spence is also the course designer and race director for XTERRA Malaysia, and is never at a loss for words.

Here is his story about Saipan…

The story of my race on the lovely Island of Saipan is a little (aka massively) different to Brodie Gardner’s the Pro Male winner. He arrived in the dead of night immediately before the race set up his bike and then with no sleep went out and smashed a course he’d never seen before to take the win.

If I’d have tried to do the same I would have probably seriously hurt myself from either falling asleep on the bike or falling off of it due to a lack of bike handling skills on the gnarly descents that would have come up too quickly for me to react to.

Fortunately for me I was blessed with Elsa Ng & Navin and Jaz Wathan who between them helped look after the “shop” and my dogs for me so that I could leave for Saipan on Thursday, 3 March.

That doesn’t mean I had over week to prepare though as from my current base in Ipoh, I went to Singapore, then Subic Bay & Manila for work opportunities. I then had a brief but pleasant overnight in Guam on Tuesday, 8 March where I stayed with Mark Cruz one of my XTERRA friends and his family. In this brief time Mark educated me on not only the fascinating naval military history that this area of the world has but also the status of the sport of triathlon in the area given his position as “El Presidente” of the Guam Triathlon Federation.

As a result though I did arrive on Saipan at 8am on Wednesday 9 March. This gave me a full 3 days to prepare for the race.

Mark suggested I contact Brad Ruszala one of his friends on Saipan. Brad could probably be Mayor of Saipan based on how well known he is. He certainly has the friendly and warm nature to charm the spots of a Leopard and it was a real pleasure to meet him.

He set me up at Bike Pro  https://www.facebook.com/bikeprosaipan/?fref=ts where Romeo (the owner) and Ariel (the chief mechanic) set about lovingly rebuilding my bike that had been broken literally into little bits to try and avoid the charges of United for having the audacity to travel with a bike. Thanks guys your attention to detail and friendly service was really appreciated.

While Ariel was working his magic Brad took me to The Shack, a cool café that became my second home whilst on the Island in terms of honest simple wholesome food https://www.facebook.com/TheShackSaipan/?fref=ts

He also took me to “Swim the Tanks” an interesting swim just off of the beach at The Kanoa Resort (the race resort hotel) http://www.kanoaresort.com where you swim from 3 abandoned Sherman tanks that didn’t make to the beach when the US Marines invaded Saipan to reclaim it from the Japanese.

By then Ariel at Bike Pro had worked his magic and I spent the rest of the day checking out the bike course and catching up with Jim Lovell XTERRA’s ‘resident’ Race Timing guru over dinner.

Jim has timed all 15 of Saipan’s XTERRA’s and was a wealth of knowledge about not just the Island but also the race course too. Heck he had even help mark the run course this year, which is what I call really, going the XTERRA Mile!!

Thursday morning saw me spend most of it checking out the run course as closely as I had the bike course the previous day. After doing so I came to the conclusion that my goal for the race was to try and cover the entire course in under 3 hours and 45 minutes. This was 15 minutes slower than the goal I had set for XTERRA Philippines but I felt it was fully justified given the seriously more technical sections on the run and bike courses and the 3,300 feet of elevation making this was a much more challenging course.

That evening, I attended the mixer and race briefing, which was delightfully informal, and Eric, Kelly and Kaz the organizers treated me to a few beers before I politely called it a day.

Early on Friday morning my roommate for the rest of the trip James Sardea joined me. He was another friend from the Guam Triathlon Federation and whom I’d like to thank for his company and camaraderie as well as his very civilized sleeping habits versus mine!!! I’d also like to thank him for the setting up the best airport transit ever by organizing an impromptu beach picnic for my 8-hour layover in Guam on the way home J

That evening I joined Jim again for an early dinner on and having checked my bike into transition that evening he also kindly gave me a lift to the start line 1st thing on Saturday morning.

All of the above meant that, unlike Brodie, I arrived at the start line of the race not only well rested and refreshed for race day but as well informed as I could be so that I was ready to rock n’ roll…

The start of the race had been brought forward to 6:30am and after setting my bike up in pole position the night before, I was able to set up the rest of my gear and do the usual last minute checks and re-checking of equipment with time to spare.

After lots of mistakes and oversights in the past this mental checklist has now become embedded into my DNA and I was one of the last to leave transition for the short walk to the beach start but in good time for the start.

The Swim:

Like many of the world’s best XTERRA athletes I now know that the swim is always going to be probably my weakest discipline. As a result, not only do I accept this but I also accept like these guys and girls the need to work really very hard on the bike and run to try and compensate for this weakness.

As well finishing inside my target time of 3:45 I also wanted to finish as close as possible to Yuji Ono who I was tipping to take our age group (the 55-59 age group).

This might sound a bit defeatist but I’d remembered seeing his name in the results of last years’ World Championships where he had come 5th in the 50-54 age group versus my 19th position when I raced in that category as a ‘young’ 50-year-old. As a result, I was really grateful to be in the same race as him as a means of pushing me hopefully to new limits and to assess how much better I have become compared to the best in the world for my age group in the last 5 years.

The swim course was not set up until the morning of the race so known of us knew much about this. We did know it was low tide so I knew like everyone else that the start of the swim was going to be shallow for at least the 1st 50 meters.

As a result, my strategy was to run as hard and as far in the shallows as I could then and then “dolphin” as much as possible to get to the deep water as fast as possible. What I and I think every other racer had not anticipated though was that the water depth did not get much deeper than mid chest height and before we knew it we were all still “dolphining” as we approached the 1st buoy.

At this point, I realized that the strategy thus far e.g. the 1st 200 meters or so, had paid off as I was at the head of a small group that was almost drafting the Pro’s!!!

As we neared the buoy and the turn I started to ready myself psychologically for the faster swimmers to start passing me as the depth after the turn to the next buoy would surely prevent “dolphining” from continuing to be an option until we rounded the 2nd buoy, some 400 meters away, and turned for the beach again on the 750m triangular swim course.

That turned out to be mostly an unnecessary thought though as the water’s depth remained pretty consistent along this stretch of water too and, as the Pro’s (who I could still amazingly see!!) were only having to swim occasionally. As a result, I also only occasionally swam and, as a consequence, thanks to my “dolphining” technique clearly being stronger than my swim technique, I remained in the chase pack immediately behind the Pro’s.

This situation persisted on the turn back to the beach and in fact, given the rhythm that I was now getting into I had started to sense that I was in a smaller group of racers chasing the Pro’s and even nibbling away at the gap of the Pro racers in front of me. As a result, by the end of the second lap the last swimmer in the leading group ahead of me (turns out that was Carina Wasle, the eventual Ladies Champion) only exited onto the beach a little over 30 seconds ahead of me!!

As I ran into transition I remember glimpsing at the race clock and seeing 18 something minutes!!! Which I confess made me grin like a Cheshire Cat! After the race I spoke with others about the swim and some of them felt a bit cheated about the fact that the swim course was so shallow.

In fairness to the race course designers the low tide and new sand bar that had been created after last year’s massive Typhoon left them with little choice unless they’d started the race some 6 hours later at high tide. This probably would not have been acceptable to the local traffic cops nor to the racers who would have then been racing in the real heat of the day with what would have been a Midday start to catch the High Tide!

Despite these facts, I did have a degree of sympathy for their point of view but I also believe that in the same way that swimming is about adapting to an environment that you are not familiar or naturally designed for, so is racing. This was demonstrated admirably by the Pro’s and, whilst I know my, Ben Allen like, swim time of 17:58 was not indicative of my usual swim times, it was in the context of the conditions being the same for everyone, ethical, fair and correct.

So with that thought in my mind of no regrets and of making the most of this better than expected start I set to work on the bike after a steady rather than stunning transition split.

The Bike:

The opening 10 or so minutes of the bike course is on road and involves a serious but steady rather than steep ascent up what is known as Navy Hill.

After picking off a couple of other riders that had clearly had a faster transition than me on the first half of this hill another rider drew up alongside me and took a good look at me, as I did them.

He was a Japanese gentleman and after a little hesitancy asked me the obvious question in a rather stern and heavily accented way “Your Age Group?”

This was necessary as numbers were allocated randomly rather than by age groups for this race. I obliged with an honest and clear answer knowing what his response would be which came immediately back as “Me too” I then said “Nice to meet you Yuji san my name is Dave” J

Momentarily he was a little shocked then smiled and said “Nice to meet you too David san”. I then said “Have a great race Yuji san” and he replied with a respectful “You too”.

After that exchange a bond had definitely been created but so to had the terms for our duel as a proverbial couple of gloves had been thrown down on that road and we had both picked them up and accepted the challenge to race each other.

The race was now most definitely “On, On” as my hashing Mates like to say.

We completed the road climb side by side for most of the way but by the time we crested and were preparing to turn into the trails I had assumed the position I’d keep for most of the next 15 kilometers namely sucking Yuji’s back wheel and benefiting from any drafting opportunities and, most importantly, his exceptional bike handling and decision making skills in terms of the lines he selected J

As a result, I don’t mind admitting Yuji san helped me ride the 1st half of the bike course better and faster than I had envisaged I would.

For much of this time I knew I was on the edge of my limits and I suspect that Yuji san did too. The reason I suspected this was that he kept inviting me to take the lead (as I would have done had I been in his shoes) and other than on two occasions when I could, I kept declining.

Amusingly, he even challenged me to chase down a rider who was in front of us saying that “I think you can do it”. I knew that I could too but I also knew it would elevate my heart rate and compromise my race. I responded with words rather than action by saying with as cheeky a grin as I could muster “I think you can do it too” 😉

Just before we arrived at the start of the final ascent up to the peak of Mount Tapochau he stepped up a gear and got out of the saddle as he did on most climbs and did just as I had challenged him to do by catching and passing the rider ahead of us. He did this with consummate ease and it took him into about a 200 meters lead on me by the time I summited the steepest section of the climb which is affectionately known as “The Bitch”.

He continued to slowly and steadily edged away from me and as I started the final climb to the summit of Mount Tapochau I was also caught and passed by Ryan Snow from Guam who was riding very strongly.

As he passed the thought crossed my mind to try and grab his wheel to help me get back on Yuji’s wheel. I knew that was not going to happen today though as Ryan was too strong and I’d risk “puncturing” myself rather than the bike on the run or even before then.

So, instead, I’m pleased to report that ‘Mr. Sensible‘ stayed on the racecourse rather ‘Mr. Madman’ and I continued to spin with a heart rate that was as controlled and calm as my head and at a pace that I knew I was able to sustain.

After summiting Mount Tapochau Yuji, Ryan and the other riders ahead of me turns out this was Charlie Sendin & Furuya Toshiyuki by this stage were out of view and gone over and down a section of trail that is aptly named the “Sound of Music”. It’s named so because the winds and grasses here replicate the famous hillside where Julie Andrews blasted out her rendition of the hills are live with the “Sound of Music” J

At this point ‘Mr. Madman’ made a brief reappearance by injecting the thought in to my head that perhaps I should try to catch them now on the descent. Thankfully, a very assertive ‘Mr. Sensible’, who articulated these cautionary words… “Don’t be Firkin Stupid Spencie! Race your race and stick to plan!” silenced his nonsense. The plan being, to race clean and smooth and not to smash or crash so that I could not push the pedal to the floor on the run.

As a consequence, not being that experienced at serious technical downhill I’m pleased to report that I executed this plan perfectly riding everything smoothly but as fast as someone with my limited skill and experience could do so that I stayed within myself and most importantly on my bike. That was until one of the last sections before T2 where the off-road section switched to smooth wet asphalt and where the final water station was located.

Deciding intuitively to take a cold bottle of water to help keep my core temperature under control I touched my brakes to slow down to make a pick up from the water station volunteer but as I was still making the tight turn that transitioned on to the slick wet asphalt the next thing I knew was that both wheels and frame had disappeared from under me and I was skidding down the road on my belly with my hands and knees acting as the wheels on the longboard that was my body.

After about 5-10 meters I came to a halt and thankfully with only superficial wounds and after taking the water bottle that I needed I was instantly back on the bike and on my way into T2.

On reaching T2 which again was steady rather than stunning, I realized that with a bike split of 1:53:32 comfortably under my target time of 2 hours I knew now what I knew at the start of the race. Namely, that for me, breaking 3:45 was going to come down to the run!

The Run:

Before I left my bike the wonderful Jim Lovell came over to offer me words of encouragement and what I’d hoped would be an estimated time between me and Yuji san.

Instead, as well as telling me how great I was doing (I didn’t really understand this at that time in terms of how well I was going relative to the rest of the field) that I was actually leading my age group!!

As I ran out of T2 I told him to double check that, as I knew that Yuji (whose number I had forgotten) was ahead of me. My last words were that I was off to try and run him down and by the time I got over the line needless to say that Jim had tracked him down in his system and corrected that minor oversight so that once again he could deliver yet another brilliant set of faultless race results.

Back on the run course I started about my work which meant settling in to a rhythm that would settle my elevated heart rate which, as always, had spiked as I went through and left transition. This was in response to the encouragement of the crowds and the announcer. I have to say here that this support was really awesome and very much appreciated especially the smooth and slick race commentary and welcoming words delivered by none other than Brad Ruszala, who it turns out was also the race announcer for the event and a darn fine one he was too.

As a result, of this I exited T2 at pace and soon after the water station I realized that my heart rate was way too high. Thankfully by the time I came alongside the Marina this was under control again and I got my 1st glimpse of a runner ahead of me.

As I turned towards the road crossing to enter the 1st section of technical single track trail this gap had visibly closed and now with my heart rate under control I was ready start closing the gap further. Inside this first technical section I quickly caught and passed this runner, which turned out to be Furuya Toshiyuki, and to my delight I could now hear another runner or runners up ahead.

As I exited this first section of trail onto some interim road surface these runners came into view and were none other than Yuji san and Ryan in that order. Given that Yuji san was closest to me and heard me exit the trail he cast what looked like to me a rather worried look J

It was too early though to make a decisive break away so as with the bike ride ‘Mr. Madman’ stayed on his best behavior while ‘Mr. Sensible’ assessed Yuji san and his running skills and his state of well-being.

After patiently observing him for a kilometer or so I’d established that he was as fast as me on the non-technical downhill sections but he was not comfortable in technical stuff and he wasn’t as good a climber when running as he was on the bike.

With these observations I decided that my strategy would have to use the technical climbs to attack. Fortunately for me a steep section of trail was coming up and I decided that this would be where I’d attack and I would then push really hard all the way to the technical ravine section so that I could get into this first.

As we turned off of the 1st section of the course that was shared with the bike course I moved past Yuji san and Ryan so that I could enter the single track section that begins with a steep scramble ahead of them both.

I was on the limit myself but I was pleased that hills are one of the things I love to train on and this paid off as I definitely found another couple of gears over both Yuji san and Ryan and I lost the sounds of their footsteps pretty quickly up this hill.

Simon Cross, a way better and more experienced racer than myself, once told me never to look behind in these situations. When I asked him why, he told me because it’s a sign of weakness and only helps inspire confidence in the person you have overtaken. As I continued up that hill his words echoed in my head and instead of looking over my shoulder I simply pressed the pedal harder.

Along the way I caught and passed Charlie too and it wasn’t until I reached the water station where I had skidded down the road earlier on the bike that I slowed to douse myself in water to cool myself down that I took the opportunity to take a quick glimpse back up the road/trail which was, pleasingly empty and quiet.

As a result, I continued to the final steep section of road and set about pressing the advantage I now had home by running this and reminding myself as I entered the final and hardest section of technical trail that included the infamous ravine and cave to maintain and use my momentum through this section to finish the job.

The message I was now telling myself was that if Yuji san, or for that matter anyone else who was going to pass me before the finish line, was that they would really have to earn that right.

As I exited the ravine I knew I had run/scrambled it as well as not only I could have but that this was probably as well as any other age grouper could too.

With just really myself to beat me now I found the best pace I could down the road to the beach that would maintain the advantage that those steep and technical sections had given me.

I don’t mind confessing that as I have done on a number occasions in hard training sessions I used the memory of Tiger one of my dogs who sadly died on Boxing Day last year to help me do this.

Tiger was a real runner and loved to race me up and down the trails where I am fortunate enough to train. The thought of his spirit really fires up my running legs and he did not let me down on Saturday as he and I descended towards and along the beach.

As a result, I maintained a stiff pace. The photographs of me at this point will confirm this as well, as I was now beginning to hurt a lot and my turbo diesel engine was starting to show signs of overheating too J

Thankfully though, the finishing line and Brad’s friendly and welcoming voice was soon in earshot and then in sight and I crossed the finish line in 3:26:07 just under 2.5 minutes slower than XTERRA Philippines which, given the seriously more technical nature of this course and the amount of elevation it had, I’ll take any day of the week.

The Result:

The bonus was that as I crossed the line I still felt strong and, dare I say it, had I needed it, I still had something in the tank too deal with an “emergency”.

The icing on the cake was crossing the line ahead of rather than coming in closely behind Yuji san as well as being the first age grouper home overall and therefore the Amateur Champion for the event.

These last two facts have not yet really sunk until this morning when I heard that I have been selected to represent Team GB in my age group at the ITU Cross World Championships.

This was been my primary goal for the 1st half of 2016. The goal now is to step up the training and aim to finish as high as possible for this event and the XTERRA World Championships in Maui this year. This means being inside the top 5 but ideally being on one of the steps of the podium. Yuji san was 6 minutes and 28 seconds away from doing that in Maui last year so tomorrow this next leg of the journey begins in earnest as I now have a new plan to make me better and stronger J

The Conclusion:

In closing I’d like to thank the quality team that helped put this event on. People like Eric, Kelly & Kaz at Pivot who organized it. People like Bobbi Grizzard and the team of trail repairers and architects that she inspired to help her prepare the bike and run courses. People like Yuji, Ryan and Charlie that pushed me on to surpass my expectations on the day and all of the other passionate people that came to volunteer and participate in this beautiful but brutal event. Their energy and contribution was invaluable in making it truly a quality experience for me.

I’m aiming on being back next year as a result and am hoping to be better for it just as I am this year. See you soon Saipan and hopefully will see the age group winners and you Yuji san sooner at XTERRA Malaysia in May.

Finally, whilst I don’t have any sponsors to thank I really would like to thank all the people that have supported me and believed in me to help me get to Saipan and perform as I have done. This includes people like my amazing Mother, my beautiful daughters Tabitha and Sorcha and the rest of my family. It also includes others who have become part of my family through our shared passions, values and beliefs. People like Elsa, Navin, Simon, Rob, Andrew and Dale and many other friends who have all helped to inspire, motivate and educate me to be the best I can be. Your contributions and thoughts have never gone unnoticed and make a huge difference and I want to end this post by expressing my gratitude to you all for these efforts and gifts that you’ve given me.

Onwards and upwards now to the new summits of Haleakala on Maui & The Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.

Over n Out for now. D J

Check out Dave’s new blog for more pics and future stories at http://trihardrustman.blogspot.my/2016/03/XTERRASaipan.RaceReport.Chapter1.html

 

 

Gardner, Wasle

Gardner, Wasle win XTERRA Saipan

(Saipan, Northern Marianas) – Australian Brodie Gardner and Austrian Carina Wasle captured the 15th annual XTERRA Saipan Championship titles on a picture-perfect day in the Northern Marianas on Saturday.

For Gardner, picking up his first-ever XTERRA World Tour win was all about timing … as in, just in time.

“I had troubles with my visa on Thursday so couldn’t get out of Australia,” he explained.  “Worked on the problem all night and the next day and with the help of a lot people back home I was able to catch a flight out yesterday and I just here at about 2am this morning.”

Roughly seven hours later Gardner was the champ.

“I led out of the swim and went as hard as I could not to give it up,” said Gardner, 29, who works full-time as a strength and conditioning coach on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

“I got lost in the caves, went right instead of left, bumped into the walls. It was pitch black in there.  Then I was trying to enjoy how pretty the beach run was except I was tired and I didn’t know how far I had left to go so just had to keep my focus and keep going through the finish line.”

His winning time of 2:52:46 was more than one-minute faster than runner-up Takahiro Ogasawara from Japan. Joe Miller from the Philippines finished third.

In the women’s race Wasle came out of the water right behind Belinda Hadden and Renata Bucher, got in the lead early on the bike and never let go.

“I felt very good,” said Wasle.  “I had a good training camp in South Africa at the beginning of the year and felt really strong today.”

It’s the 12th world tour win in the storied career of Carina Wasle, and her second in three years here in Saipan.

“I love this place, and have friends here that I have to come see every year,” said Wasle.  “It’s a really beautiful course.  It tests you a lot.  The run is very technical.  It’s just a very special course with the jungle and the caves. There is no race quite like this one.”

Wasle will now head back to Europe for the XTERRA European Tour season-opener in Malta, then go to XTERRA Reunion before continuing on the Asia-Pacific Tour in Australia and Malaysia.  She is one of the most adventurous, well-traveled XTERRA elites of all-time since her debut in 2005.

“It’s part of my life to travel and train and race.  I love to visit the countries and experience the culture. It’s a good life,” said Wasle.

Mieko Carey finished 2nd in the women’s race, followed by 7-time Saipan Champ Renata Bucher in third.

Pos Name, NAT Time S B R Points
1 Brodie Gardner, AUS 2:52:46 15:21 1:33:40 1:03:45 100
2 Takahiro Ogasawara, JPN 2:54:14 17:10 1:33:27 1:03:37 90
3 Joe Miller, PHI 3:05:03 17:03 1:41:19 1:06:41 82
4 Kaon Cho, KOR 3:21:08 17:21 1:50:47 1:13:00 75
Pos Name, NAT Time S B R Points
1 Carina Wasle, AUT 3:05:40 17:16 1:43:06 1:05:18 100
2 Mieko Carey, JPN 3:12:40 17:20 1:44:31 1:10:49 90
3 Renata Bucher, SUI 3:22:38 17:02 1:52:16 1:13:20 82
4 Belinda Hadden, AUS 3:40:21 17:00 2:05:18 1:18:03 75

Complete Results

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
2016 Brodie Gardner Carina Wasle

THE OFF-ROAD TO LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA

XTERRA Saipan was the third of six races in the 2015-2016 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour where pros and amateurs count their best three scores (the finale in Malaysia counts double).

With the win Gardner moves into second-place in the Tour standings with 182 points (he was third in the Philippines) while Ogasawara continues to lead the men’s tour title chase with three scoring races and 247 points.

Reigning XTERRA Japan champion Mieko Carey is in the lead of the women’s tour chase with 272 points followed by Lizzie Orchard and Wasle.

Next up on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour is XTERRA New Zealand (April 16, 2016), followed a week later by the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Australia (April 23, 2016) and then the tour finale at XTERRA Malaysia (May 7, 2016).

XTERRA ASIA-PACIFIC TOUR ELITE STANDINGS, tentative after 3 events

PL NAME JPN PHI SAIPAN NZL AUS MAS TOT
1 Takahiro Ogasawara, JPN 82 75 90 247
2 Brodie Gardner, AUS DNS 82 100 182
3 Charlie Epperson, USA 75 69 DNS 144
4 Joe Miller, PHI DNS 49 82 131
5 Kaon Cho, KOR 53 DNS 75 128
6 Cameron Oneal, USA 63 53 DNS 116
7 Courtney Atkinson, AUS 100 DNS DNS 100
8 Bradley Weiss, RSA DNS 100 DNS 100
9 Cedric Lassonde, FRA 90 DNS DNS 90
10 Ben Allen, AUS DNS 90 DNS 90
11 Taro Shirato, JPN 69 DNS DNS 69
12 Taylor Charlton, AUS DNS 63 DNS 63
13 Hsieh Jason, HKG 58 DNS DNS 58
14 Michal Bucek, SVK DNS 58 DNS 58
15 Barry Lee, MAS DNS 45 DNS 45
PL NAME JPN PHI SAIPAN AUS NZL MAS TOT
1 Mieko Carey, USA 100 82 90 272
2 Lizzie Orchard, NZL 90 100 DNS 190
3 Carina Wasle, AUT DNS DNS 100 100
4 Jacqui Slack, GBR DNS 90 DNS 90
5 Renata Bucher, SUI DNS DNS 82 82
6 Belinda Hadden, AUS DNS DNS 75 75

2016 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS

XTERRA Saipan was the fourth of 37 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the world could qualify to race at the 21st annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on October 23.

DATE WORLD TOUR EVENT LOCATION or WINNERS
7-Feb XTERRA Philippines Brad Weiss/Lizzie Orchard
21-Feb XTERRA South Africa Brad Weiss/Flora Duffy
5-Mar XTERRA Motatapu Olly Shaw/Mary Gray
12-Mar XTERRA Saipan Brodie Gardner/Carina Wasle
20-Mar XTERRA Costa Rica Playa Reserva Conchal
26-Mar XTERRA Argentina Dique Ullum, San Juan
3-Apr XTERRA Malta Majjistral Nature Reserve
16-Apr XTERRA New Zealand Rotorua, North Island
17-Apr XTERRA La Reunion La Reunion Island
23-Apr XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship Jervis Bay, NSW, Australia
7-May XTERRA Malaysia / XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Championship Langkawi
7-May XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela, São Paulo
7-May XTERRA Greece Vouliagmeni
14-May XTERRA Tahiti Papeete
21-May XTERRA Oak Mountain State Park Pelham, Shelby County, AL, USA
21-May XTERRA Portugal Golega
11-Jun XTERRA Belgium Namur
25-Jun XTERRA Switzerland Vallee de Joux
25-Jun XTERRA Mine over Matter Milton, Ontario, Canada
3-Jul XTERRA France Xonrupt
10-Jul XTERRA Victoria Victoria, B.C., Canada
16-Jul XTERRA Beaver Creek Beaver Creek, CO, USA
23-Jul XTERRA Parry Sound Ontario, Canada
31-Jul XTERRA Italy Lago Di Scanno
31-Jul XTERRA Dominican Republic Barahona
6-Aug XTERRA Mexico Tapalpa
7-Aug XTERRA Poland Krakow
13-Aug XTERRA Sweden Hellsgaarten, Stockholm
14-Aug XTERRA Canmore Canmore, Alberta, Canada
20-Aug XTERRA Germany – XTERRA European Championship Zittau
27-Aug XTERRA Sleeping Giant Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
27-Aug XTERRA Korea Daeahn Reservoir, Wonju City
3-Sep  XTERRA Japan Hokkaido
4-Sep XTERRA Denmark Mons Klint
4-Sep XTERRA Quebec Quebec City, Quebec
11-Sep XTERRA Woolastook New Brunswick, Canada
17-Sep XTERRA USA / Pan Am Championship Ogden, Utah, USA
23-Oct XTERRA World Championship Kapalua, Maui
XTERRA Korea

XTERRA Korea Set for August 27

XTERRA Korea has confirmed its return to Daeahn Reservoir, Wonju City the week before Japan on August 27, 2016.

After a successful test event in 2015 XTERRA Korea will be the second stop on the 2016-17 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour awarding 25 qualifying spots into the 2016 XTERRA World Championship to top amateurs in each division.

Note: This race will not award pro prize money in 2016.

Learn more at www.xterra.co.kr.

The XTERRA Japan Championship race is confirmed to return to Lake Kanayama in Hokkaido on Saturday, September 3, 2016.

XTERRA Japan will be the third scoring race in the 2016-2017 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour, award $7,500 USD in prize money equally to the top five elite men and women, and distribute 25 qualifying spots into the 2016 XTERRA World Championship in Maui to the top amateurs in each division.

The race combines a 1,200-meter swim with a 24-kilometer mountain bike and 10K trail run. Learn more at xterrajapan.net.

LEARN MORE ABOUT XTERRA ASIA-PACIFIC TOUR

Olly Shaw

Olly Shaw Wins XTERRA Motatapu

After finishing runner-up the last two years at XTERRA Motatapu on the South Island of New Zealand Olly Shaw third effort saw the young Kiwi great stand atop the podium.

“Stoked to break my bridesmaids tag and get my first XTERRA title!” Shaw posted to facebook shortly after the race.

Combining a 2km swim, 47km Mountain Bike, and a 15km mountain run XTERRA Motatapu is much longer than the average XTERRA event.

“The run is one of the hardest on the World Tour circuit.” he added.

The weekend of events attracted thousands of off-road competitors with races in mountain biking, a trail marathon, adventure runs and off-road triathlons.

Shaw’s plan for the coming months is to race XTERRA New Zealand, the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in NSW, Australia and the APAC tour finale in Malaysia.

FULL RESULTS

Trina Psenicnik

An XTERRA Braveheart Out West

You’ve got to be “all-in” if you want work with two-time XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson’s Braveheart squad.

Trina Psenicnik, a 43-year-old acupuncturist from La Jolla, California, knows all about it. As a former competitive figure skater and US National Figure Skating Coach, Psenicnik was comfortable with competition side of racing, but just picked up on triathlon after her move from the east coast to California.

“I fell in love with triathlon from the start,” said Psenicnik. “After my first year I saw Lesley speak at a triathlon night at Nytro (bike/tri story in Encinitas, CA) and everything she talked about resonated with me. She had just started coaching triathletes and I was at the point I needed a coach so we met up one day shortly after. I fell in love with Lesley’s bubbly personality, feisty spirit and positive personality and decided to team up with her and Braveheart!”

Paterson coached Psenicnik through her first full Ironman and then the real fun began.

“After a few years I felt I needed a bigger challenge and a new adventure and Lesley suggested XTERRA. I loved trail running and swimming, and mountain biking was something I had always wanted to do so why not? I bought a used 26er and started riding last March. My first two XTERRA races were Renegade in May and Laguna in June – Lesley let me borrow the 29er she had ridden when she won her first World Championship to race! I couldn’t stop smiling during the races and even though they were super challenging I ended up on the podium and fell in love with XTERRA.”

Psenicknik said going to XTERRA Nationals in Utah last year was “by far the hardest thing I have ever done and my first race at altitude but for sure it was the experience of a lifetime! I love the people, the venues, the hills and the trails!”

This year she has her sights set on Maui, and wants to qualify for Worlds by winning the West Region.

“My goal is to make huge improvements on my bike times and overall times as I just got my first new mtb last month! I’m super stoked to have a bike to practice AND race on…should help a lot! I am for sure trying to win the West Region and qualify for Worlds! As long as I’m having tons of fun racing, trying my best and passionate about racing I will be happy … be grateful and you will race great!”

Most of all, Psenicknik says she’s just happy to have found such a great sport and group of people to enjoy it with.

“Braveheart is a family that supports each other, trains together and races together. It is perseverance, strength, commitment and unity. No matter what the obstacle there is always a way to overcome it and Lesley and Simon are always there for all their athletes! Braveheart has taught me to embrace challenges and that anything is possible and Lesley leads that by example!”

Saipan

15th XTERRA Saipan This Saturday

One of the sports most iconic races, the XTERRA Saipan Championship in the Northern Marianas, takes places on Saturday in the CNMI.

For seven-time winner Renata Bucher of Switzerland its more than just a race, it’s an annual retreat to paradise to recharge her batteries and get ready for a season of racing.

“Hafa adai!” she exclaims.  “The island is still a very happy place, people are so good here, and time is going way too fast.”

Bucher and the other foreign elites have been spending the week soaking in the sun, going to the local schools to inspire the kids, and enjoying the atmosphere.

The elites aren’t the only ones having fun in Saipan.  Dave Spence, the race director for the XTERRA Malaysia Championship which is set to be the Asia-Pacific Tour finale on May 7, has been immersing himself in the charm and grit as well.

While this will be his first time racing here, it didn’t take Spence long to discover the “Live More” spirit of XTERRA is strong on Saipan.

Here is his pre-race story…

“XTERRA Saipan is beauty & brutality bundled together. It could possibly beat you but it’s guaranteed to make you better!  I know already that racing XTERRA Saipan tomorrow is going to be an amazing adventure that will make the most arduous journey to get here worthwhile.

Having pre ridden & run the racecourse I can tell you that they are just like every other XTERRA course I’ve been on! This isn’t because of any similarity but because, they are all completely unique, dramatically different & frighteningly challenging in their own ways! Saipan certainly fulfills all of these criteria and you can add to that the fact that just like the XTERRA World Championships in Maui, its got spectacular, with a capital S, views. What makes it stand out for me though more than anything else is how on such a small island the course designers have created such an incredibly diverse terrain. There’s some furiously fast & technical descents, there are some brutal climbs that are a real “Bitch” as one is affectionately referred to.

There’s also so many different types of surface to cope with. It is truly a brilliant bundle of beauty & brutality designed to beat you but make you better rider & runner and that’s ultimately what I’m looking for things that make me better. It’s no wonder it’s gained a reputation over the last 15 years as being the ‘jewel’ of XTERRA’s World Tour.

As well as the course that you’ll participate on, the other draw for me of XTERRA is the people that are doing it with.  These people really make the difference for me as they make this old man realize that it is possible, with the right mindset, to make you feel you are able to defy time at least momentarily.  I experienced the best example of this feeling yet today at lunch which I was taking in a really cool little place called The Shack (www.facebook.com/theshacksaipan) run by Carl, his wife & his Mum.

While there I met three young Gentleman called G. L. Brown (73), Alan More (67) & Steve Cole (60). These experienced warriors from the US made me feel not only really welcome at their table but also like a young Freshman hanging out with a bunch of cool dude PhD’s.

It was awesome feeling & the perfect reminder that if you want that little bit EXTRA from life and wish to LIVE MORE then XTERRA is the perfect way to do it.

This region of the Pacific and Saipan in particular has some amazing history behind it of course & XTERRA Saipan is continuing this tradition. It might be a small event in terms of the world stage but it’s been here 15 years and with these young gentlemen gracing it with their presence I’m sure it can continue to represent everything that good about the XTERRA lifestyle.

I know that when I grow up if I can have the energy & passion that GL, Alan & Steve still have I’ll be a better man just like I know I will be when & wherever I finish tomorrow’s race.”

In the men’s elite race Australian Brodie Gardner looks for his first XTERRA World Tour win, but will be up against ringers from Japan (Takahiro Ogasawara), the Philippines (Joe Miller), and Korea (Kaon Cho).

The women’s race features Austrian regular Carina Wasle, Japan champ Mieko Carey, Aussie Belinda Hadden, and the “Swiss Miss” Bucher.

Look for results later today at http://jtltiming.com/multisport.htm.

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
shaw

Shaw, Gardner to Challenge for XTERRA Motatapu Title Saturday

XTERRA veteran Sam Gardner, the first Brit to ever win an XTERRA major, has taken his talents to Palmerston North, New Zealand for a new work/life adventure with his wife and kids.

As such, he’s primed and ready to tackle Saturday’s iconic XTERRA Motatapu off-road triathlon on the South Island of New Zealand.

“Never raced it before but I know the area a bit and know people that have done it,” said Gardner. “I’m biking and swimming pretty well at the moment. The swim is relative, obviously! Had a niggling Achilles injury so will need a decent lead off the bike to have any chance of holding off Olly Shaw and Co.”

Motatapu is longer than your typical XTERRA, combining a 2km swim in Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka, 47km Mountain Bike, and a 15km mountain run over the historic Miners Trail course.  While this is just the fifth year XTERRA Motatapu has been part of the World Tour and offered up 19 qualifying spots into the XTERRA World Championship, it’s the 12th anniversary for the weekend of events that attracts thousands of competitors with races in mountain biking, an off-road marathon, adventure runs and triathlons.

Shaw (pictured above), who at just 25-years-old is already a seasoned veteran of the event, is hoping this is the year he breaks through to the top step in Motatapu.

“The off season has been a good one for me. A lot of training and just getting back into the racing groove!” said Shaw, who finished as the runner-up the last two years on the South Island. “I’m feeling pretty good. Things have been building really nicely in training so I’m looking forward to the first one of the year for me.  The plan for me after Motatapu is XTERRA New Zealand, the XTERRA Asia Pacific Champs, and then the APAC Tour finale in Malaysia.”

Learn more at motatapu.com.