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.

Saipan

Saipan Sportsfest in Underway!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in the Northern Marianas as the Saipan Sportsfest kicks off a week of racing and frivolity in the middle of the western Pacific Ocean this Saturday at the 27th annual Tagaman road triathlon.

Renata Bucher has once again returned to the island that she fell in love with a decade ago.

“It’s my home away from home in the middle of the sea,” she said.

Bucher will be the frontrunner for the women’s race, but up against familiar foes (really friends) with the likes of XTERRA Japan Champion Mieko Carey and Aussie Belinda Hadden.  Kaon Cho from Korea highlights the men’s field for the Tagaman tri.

After the race participants have a whole week full of fun events on tap – from miniature golf to beach bbq’s to hash runs and more. Then, on March 12, the “Crown Jewel” of XTERRA – the Saipan Championship race – will celebrate its 15th year.

To invite others to join in the fun the Marianas Visitors Authority, which is celebrating its 40th year, has launched an Instagram contest under the hashtag #MVA40.  The contest will award a gift certificate or other prizes valued at $25 for the most “liked” photo on Instagram fitting the Tagaman or XTERRA Saipan theme for the month of March.

“We always say ‘tourism is everybody’s business,’ so this year’s celebration of MVA’s 40th anniversary is an opportunity for our community to win some great prizes demonstrating how they’re engaged in the industry,” said MVA Managing Director Perry Tenorio. “We look forward to the public’s participation in the contest.”

For a complete list of rules visit www.mymarianas.com. MVA’s Instagram account is @maraianasvisitors.

Lebrun

Nico Lebrun Returns as Technical Director

Former XTERRA World Champion Nico Lebrun will return to serve his second season as the technical director for the XTERRA European Tour in 2016.

During his racing career Lebrun was a major force in XTERRA racing both in Europe and in America. He posted 90 top-five finishes including 32 wins, four Euro Tour Championships, and the 2005 XTERRA World Title.

In 2013 he became the first star from the European Tour to be inducted into the XTERRA Hall of Fame, then promptly retired and launched his own coaching and consulting business “OrgaNICOoach

Last year Lebrun served alongside XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas as the European Tour’s first technical director.

“He’s done an amazing job,” said Nicholas. “He can see things from every angle and is a valuable asset to the racers and the race directors, alike.

Nico embodies the XTERRA lifestyle and the ‘Live More’ spirt of the sport. We really couldn’t be happier having him in this position.”

We caught up with Nico this week to get his thoughts on this year’s XTERRA European Tour…

XTERRA: Nico, first tell us how you earned this role as technical director for XTERRA Europe?
Nico Lebrun: First, for those who know a little bit about my story, sport saved my life so I will always be thankful to the sporting world. XTERRA is the second step.  XTERRA allowed me to live the dream of being a professional athlete. Then you need luck and imagination! I knew I wanted to retire at 40.  I’ve organized a lot of races to be able to understand the vision of an event as both a racer and an organizer. XTERRA in Europe had been growing fantastically and needed someone in this role so XTERRA CEO Tom Kiely created this position in Europe and let me run with it.

XT: What is your role as the technical director?
NL: During the winter, I start exchanging information with organizers about their event.  If it’s a new one sometimes I’ll go visit them to check the area and the course to get an idea of the future event. For the older races the goal is to improve on the previous year and raise the quality level higher and higher.  On race week I help with the course marking, and check to make sure everything is ready for raceday. On the day of the event I oversee the action, post updates to social media, and write reports for the XTERRA websites. After then event I put together an evaluation of the race for the organizers to help them improve for the next edition.

XT: What does it take to put on a good race?
NL: From the racer’s perspective I think having a real technical and fun mountain bike course is important. A course with some nice single track and some technical parts that reward the better mountain bikers. The location is also very important. It’s best to have a site with a beach or lake, T1 and T2, finish line, expo, and hotels all in a small area with access to an airport, train and/or freeway. The real key to a good race, however, is always the local crew. You need a group of motivated people ready to work at night, and have a passion to make athletes happy.  They have to be proud of their region or area, with a good local implantation to open every door. An XTERRA organizer must be a multi-tool, ready to mark a bike course, build a transition, go on political meeting, find sponsor, use social media…it’s all about people and passion!

XT: What do you think about the European Tour this year?
NL: We will have 11 races so it’s again a very good edition of the Euro Tour. We don’t have Spain or England on the schedule this year but are working to get those two back and many more new events on the Tour very soon.  We do have two new races this year in Poland and Belgium that we are really excited about.  We have some very big races like Germany and France, and some are growing quickly like Portugal, Sweden and Malta. Italy is back, this time as a Silver-level race, and the venue is incredible. XTERRA Greece is moving to the Olympic triathlon site in Athens which will be a new adventure. XTERRA Switzerland will also serve as the ETU European Championship race, which is good for XTERRA, and I hope the weather will be the same as last year when it was perfect! The finale is in Denmark with the Running26 crew, a group of really motivated people who will now be more involved with us. In Denmark XTERRA is starting to become a real institution. So, lots of positive movement for XTERRA in Europe, and one point we are working on is to get an XTERRA Euro Tour winner’s jersey for all the age group champions. So, to all the racers out there, if you plan to win your age group, be sure to book the final in Denmark so you can take home a jersey!

XT: What races will you go to?
NL: I start in Malta in one month, then Greece, Tahiti (Asia-Pacific Tour but French Territory), Belgium, Swiss, France, Italy, Poland, Germany and Denmark. I will miss Portugal and Sweden; I must let Dave Nicholas think he is still a little bit the boss on few races 😉

Lebrun

The Chamois

By Trey Garman (circa 2006)

Far away in France, many years ago, XTERRA World Champion Nicolas Lebrun was to become living proof that sports can change kids for the better.

The story starts 5,000 feet above sea level in the Savoy region of the French Alps.  In this beautiful place, where the local wildlife far-outnumbered the 50 residents who lived in the village, “Nico” became a man of the mountain and the foundation for the rest of his life was laid.

Nico-Lebrun“As a kid I climbed around the mountain and liked to go downhill on my bike.  The fun part was going downhill, but to go again you had to push your bike back up the hill and this made the body strong,” recounted LeBrun.

In the winter the family would put skins on their skis and cross-country their way up the mountain.  When they got to the top they’d take the skins off and downhill back down to the family chalet.

When Nico was seven his parents separated, and as a result his playground got even bigger.  While his Dad, a carpenter, stayed in the village his Mom moved to the northern part of the Alps to work in a high-altitude hotel.

“The only way to get there was by foot or by ski,” said LeBrun, explaining that the “refuge” was situated at more than 8,200 feet.  This is where he spent his summer months climbing to the surrounding summits and also where he befriended the chamois – a mountain dwelling goat-like animal with awesome climbing abilities.

There was one significant downside to growing up in this pristine, isolated countryside…the education system, or more appropriately – the lack of one. There were only two other kids in the village.

“There was school but it was so small we just went there and did nothing,” explained LeBrun.  “So when it was time for me to go to the city for 1st form (middle school) I couldn’t even write my own name.  It was terrible for me because I was like Tarzan.”

Even worse, the teachers had no compassion and wouldn’t break from the curriculum to help get him on track.

“The teacher said we can’t do anything for you, go back to your mountain.”

LeBrun was 11-years-old at the time and with few options available, his parents sent him to boarding school.

“I had lived in the mountains with flowers and animals and everything was perfect.  Then I arrived in the city and it was a jungle with violence and fighting.  A lot of kids wanted to fight me, and the only way I found to survive was to drink, smoke, and fight.  To stop fighting, I had to be with the bad guys. In my head, in my heart, I knew it wasn’t me. It was very hard to be this guy.”

As one of the long-haired, chain-smoking bad boys Nico would walk up the hill in his ragged clothes and throw rocks down at the kids running in the organized races after school.

“One day the teacher take me and say ‘o.k. Today you run’.  I said ‘oh sh**’ my friends are going to hit me with rocks.  So I went in the race and ran as fast as I could and finished 4th or 5th. Then the teacher said, ‘Oh, you are strong.”

The teacher thought it was strange because the “punk kid” beat the good kids who train and practice.

“I remember for me it was the first time someone told me that I was strong at something. It was a good feeling and it was very important for me because before this moment, I thought I was bad at everything.”

That moment turned his life around and by age 15 he was in a better school and on a better path.

“I stopped my bad life and started to work hard in school. I had more energy and focus.  I learned discipline.  Sport…made me a good man.”

LeBrun excelled in academics thereafter, but his heart was in athletics.

In 1994, his first year as an elite, he finished 3rd at the French Duathlon Championship. In 1995 he served his mandatory 10-months duty in the French Army and in ’96, he “won his life”.

“I really had to prove that I could be a professional and make a living in sports so I trained more and more and became the French Duathlon Champion.  It was my first big victory and a great moment because I knew then that I could be a good professional.”

Make that a great professional.  Eight times on the podium in world championships in three different sports – XTERRA, Duathlon, and Winter Triathlon (world champ in ’99 & ’00).

The crowning moment in his career, the ultimate victory, was in Maui last October.  He received a congratulatory letter from French President Jacques Chirac, was recognized as the off-road triathlete of the year at Competitor’s Endurance Sports Awards, and garnered all kinds of media coverage.  The CBS show put his triumph on TV for millions to see.

In an interview with the XTERRA TV crew a few years ago LeBrun was asked the question, “if you were an animal, what would you be?”  His reply, skewed because of the French-English language barrier, was a mountain goat.  What he meant was a chamois – the animal with legendary climbing skills at home in the rugged, rocky terrain of the Alps.

Chamois it is…Champ.

 

 

 

XTERRA Europe

XTERRA Teams Up with Running26 to Expand & Grow XTERRA in Europe

Honolulu, HI – TEAM Unlimited LLC, owners of XTERRA, today announced an alliance with Running26 of Denmark to build a marketing and business development office in Europe.

“The importance of Europe on the XTERRA World Tour continues to grow each year and we sense both the need and opportunity of opening a business operation,” said XTERRA CEO Tom Kiely.  “We have been fortunate to form a close working relationship and alliance with Denmark-based Running26, and they are a talented event, marketing, and media group.”

Running26 is also the current license holder for the increasingly successful series of events in the XTERRA Nordic region which includes XTERRA branded off-road triathlons, duathlons, trail runs, and swim-run events held year-round.

“Our goal is to build an even more powerful XTERRA brand in Europe, and create an attractive platform for all organizers, sponsors, and partners in the region,” said Kristian Uhd Jepsen, the director for Running26.

Jepsen said his short-term goals include securing sponsorship for the XTERRA European Tour, exploring merchandising opportunities, and increasing both the number of XTERRA licensed events and the number of participants at each event in Europe.

Jepsen has assembled a staff of seven to launch the XTERRA Marketing Office in Europe and service new social media, sponsorship and licensing initiatives.

“We plan to empower and involve the existing XTERRA Europe organizations to help achieve economies of scale, and build value across all events,” said Jepsen.  “Our first order of business will be to create professional and coherent XTERRA branding across Europe through extensive use of social media.”

The first-ever XTERRA race in Europe dates back to 2000, with the inaugural three-stop XTERRA European Tour taking place in 2003.  This year there are 11 championship events in Europe.

About TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA

TEAM Unlimited LLC, founded in 1988, is the Hawaii-based television, events, and marketing company that brought off-road triathlon and trail running to the world under the brand name XTERRA.  From a one-off race held on the most remote island chain in the world XTERRA evolved into an endurance sports lifestyle with worldwide appeal. Over the past 20 years XTERRA transcended its status as ‘just a race’ to become a bona-fide way of life for thousands of intrepid athletes as well as an emerging brand in the outdoor industry.  In 2016 XTERRA will offer more than 200 off-road triathlons and trail running events in 30+ countries worldwide and produce 10 adventure television shows for international distribution.  Learn more at xterraplanet.com and xterracontent.com.

About Running26

Running26 connects people and creates strong relationships and personal development through endurance sports such as running, cycling and triathlon.  The company operates throughout the full value chain of sport events and experiences in that arena and has full service line of products targeting individuals and companies. All cases are fully supported by an extensive use of media and valuable content production. Learn more at running26.dk or xterranordic.com.

 

XTERRA EUROPEAN TOUR SCHEDULE

DATE TOUR EVENT LOCATION
3-Apr XTERRA Malta S
Majjistral Nature Reserve
7-May XTERRA Greece S
Vouliagmeni
21-May XTERRA Portugal S
Golega
11-Jun XTERRA Belgium S
Namur
25-Jun XTERRA Switzerland – ETU Championship G
Vallee de Joux
3-Jul XTERRA France G
Xonrupt
31-Jul XTERRA Italy S
Lago Di Scanno
7-Aug XTERRA Poland S
Krakow
13-Aug XTERRA Sweden S
Stockholm
20-Aug XTERRA Germany G XTERRA Euro Champs
Zittau
4-Sep XTERRA Denmark G
Mons Klint

S = Silver / G = Gold

Elites racing in the 2016 XTERRA European Tour will count their best four (4) Gold scores and their best three (3) Silver scores. Amateurs count their best 4 Gold and 2 Silvers. Amateurs must score points in at least two events to be considered for Euro Tour honors.                                                             See Rules Doc for more details. More XTERRA European Tour News

JAP_8884-1030x687

Andrew Knutsen Strives for National Title

If Andrew Knutsen’s goal was to win the 35-39 division XTERRA Mountain Regional Championship his strategy would be “to go to 4-5 races and win them all.”

“We are lucky here in Colorado having the Beaver Creek XTERRA in our backyard.  That would be the mid-season A race where you would get 100 points.  Then I would probably aim to get an early season 75-points at XTERRA Lory, a mid-season 75-points at XTERRA Winter Park, and finish it out with the late 75-points at XTERRA Buffalo Creek.  This strategy would space the races out to one per month and allow ample time to train and recover for each race.”

BUT, the 35-year-old father of two isn’t thinking about winning his region, at least not this year.

“The regional title is nice, but the National title is my ultimate goal,” he said.

To make that dream come true Knutsen, an electronics engineer for Lockheed Martin, is coming up with a plan every bit as detailed as the hardware he designs for aerospace applications.

“After racing quite a bit of XTERRA over the past two years, going to Nationals and Maui with decent results I’ve realized that to be at the top of the podium in Ogden or Maui you have to be an elite mountain biker,” said Knutsen, who finished 24th overall, sixth amateur, and 3rd in the 30-34 division at Nationals last year.

“So, this year in order to achieve that I’ve decided to sacrifice racing as many XTERRA races in order to get stronger on the mountain bike by immersing myself in mostly mountain bike races this year.  Therefore, although I plan to win both of the XTERRA’S on my schedule (Beaver Creek and Buffalo Creek) prior to Nationals, I have a feeling it won’t be enough points to take home the regional title.”

Knutsen, who has been racing XTERRA for six years now, was already a triathlete when he tried his first XTERRA race in 2010.

“I bought a mountain bike because my friends were into it and enjoyed mountain biking in the Colorado foothills, and at some point I thought ‘how hard could it be, I already do road tri’s, so I signed up for Beaver Creek in 2010.  It was by far the hardest race I had ever done. I said something like ‘I’m never doing this again’ as I crossed the finish line only to say 10 minutes later, ‘I’ll be back next year.’

He finished 15th in his division that year and 106th overall, “and I still couldn’t believe how much heart throbbing climbing was involved.  I knew I could do better so I had to come back and try again.”

Each year Knutsen added another XTERRA to his schedule.

“My best finish was probably at Beaver Creek in 2014 where I took 1st Overall Amateur and beat a few pros along the way.  I ended up 11th in the whole race, including the pros, with Cody (Waite) one spot in front of me.”

In an interesting twist it was Cody Waite (his coach) whom Knutsen credits for his improvement in XTERRA.

“Cody really loves the sport and it shows, and that is why I’ve been working with him for a couple years now,” said Knutsen. “I love his approach to XTERRA in general but at the heart of XTERRA is the mountain bike and that is where I think Cody’s expertise lies.  I’ve always performed my best when I was in my best shape on the bike and Cody knows how to get someone to that place.  Most people don’t enjoy riding on a trainer but the Sessions:6 bike trainer series has made me look forward to getting on the trainer.  The super focused nature of each session using FTP testing, Watts prescribed workloads and a methodical progression to the 13-week series provides the perfect individual training stress which in turn results in an unparalleled fitness adaptation.  And this is really only the tip of the iceberg.  Cody’s training plans continue this strategy all year long.  This year I’ve even started using Cody as a coaching Mentor as I’ve started to get more involved on the coaching side of things by working with Sessions:6 athletes and leading a Sessions:6 bike trainer series.”

Specifically for this year, in an effort to win in Utah, Knutsen and Waite have come up with a focused plan.

“Normally I have a couple of peak cycles, but this year I’m approaching things a little differently.  It is more or less a year-long build to be the fastest at Nationals.  Although I have broken the year into three phases/focuses.  The first phase, from January to March, my focus is on developing running speed with a series of running races culminating in an “A”ish running race in March.  Then I will maintain that running speed as I shift my focus between April and July to the bike with a series of mountain bike races with an “A”ish race at Beaver Creek.  Then I’ll attempt to maintain both my running and mtb gains and shift my focus to the pool as I prepare for nationals.”

When asked why XTERRA Nationals was the goal, Knutsen said it was his favorite race, “partly because of the stunning beauty of the leaves changing colors and the majestic back drop of the Snowbasin Resort ski slopes and Sardine Peak.  The temperature seems to always be perfect in Ogden in mid-September, and personally I like it cooler such that when you get out of the water the first few minutes on the bike are a little chilly until you start climbing up Wheeler canyon.  And all the climbing on the course is such a great equalizer.  There is no cheating that course, you have to be in shape and get everything out of yourself to have a good result.  Bottom line, that course makes you earn it and I love every second of it.”

Knutsen thinks this year’s national championship race, now that it doubles as the XTERRA Pan American Championship as well, will bring out the best.

“It will be very interesting to see how the field gets deeper at the Pan Am Champs this year.  I think the top three guys on the podium at Nationals from last year’s 30-34 age group (Balzer, Merrick and myself) are all aging up to the 35-39 age group this year.  So if we all show up in Ogden in good form the 35-39 age group may be toughest age group in the field and Mexico and Canada’s best athletes will only make it more interesting.”

Although his focus and effort may come across as intense, what draws Knutsen to XTERRA is the exact opposite.

“I like the laid back family atmosphere,” he said. “Camping with the family next to the course before some of the races has been a real highlight for us.”

XTERRA MOUNTAIN REGION RACES 

18-Jun XTERRA Lory Bellvue, Colorado
16-Jul XTERRA  Beaver Creek Avon, Colorado
30-Jul XTERRA Aspen Valley Carbondale, Colorado
6-Aug XTERRA  Winter Park Winter Park, Colorado
7-Aug XTERRA Flathead Kalispell, Montana
20-Aug XTERRA Iron Creek Spearfish, South Dakota
27-Aug XTERRA Buffalo Creek Bailey, Colorado
10-Sep XTERRA Fruita (2017) Fruita, Colorado

America Tour Rules / America Tour Schedule / XAT Overview