Fox, Baker win XTERRA Real

The XTERRA America Tour kicked off its 17th year last weekend with the XTERRA Real off-road triathlon in Granite Bay, California. The race gained its moniker “Real” because race director, Bill Driskill, wanted an off-road course that felt authentic.

“You never know what’s going to happen at XTERRA Real,” said Driskill, “Which is just one reason why I love this sport.” Because of the heavy rain in northern California this winter, it took dedicated race staff and volunteers two hours to clear 25-feet of driftwood that had piled up in the lake. The good news was that the water was a balmy 60-degrees, which Driskill added was warm for this time of year.

In the men’s race, Peter Hawkins led the entire race until Kyle Fox sprinted him down with 50-yards to go to claim the win. On the women’s side, first out of the water overall for men and women was Jessie Koltz, who finished second in the women’s race for the second year in a row.

“I love the water: the calm, the color, the cold,” said Koltz, a 28-year-old pro triathlete and swim coach. “The water is where I clear my mind.”

Although Koltz was out of the water first, fellow pro Julie Baker (pictured above) snuck by her in transition and maintained that lead on the mountain bike and run portions of the race to finish first with a time of 1:44, about 5-minutes ahead of Koltz.

“It definitely felt good to get out and start doing some racing, this course was shorter and flatter than most of the races so it was a good way to ease into the season,” said Baker, the reigning XTERRA Beaver Creek Champ.  “It was a little muddy out there, and some of the bike course was moved onto pavement because of all the rain we’ve been getting, but still a good time.”

Mixed martial arts stars Nick and Nate Diaz competed in the event for Team Michael David Winery.  Both Diaz brothers are known for their disciplined triathlon training schedule. Nick Diaz finished 50th with a time of 2:06. Fifteen-year-old Dylan Gong, the reigning 15-19 XTERRA West Region Champion, finished 13th overall at the race on Saturday.

Find complete results here.

The next stop on the XTERRA America Tour is Saturday at XTERRA Blackwater in Milton Florida. Consisting of 45 races in 30 states, the XTERRA America Tour rolls from late March until the National Championships in Ogden, Utah on September 16th.  Learn more at xterraplanet.com.

XTERRA World Tour springs into action this weekend

The middle of spring means the beginning of non-stop racing action on the XTERRA World Tour as events in Florida, Chile, Malta, and Phuket send off-roaders on a wild chase for points and prize money.

On Saturday XTERRA Chile hosts the second stop on the Pan Am Tour, XTERRA Phuket hosts the second stop on the Asia-Pacific Tour, and XTERRA Blackwater (Milton, FL) hosts the second race on the America Tour. Then on Sunday, XTERRA Malta (pictured) opens-up racing on the European Tour.

“Every race counts, so what happens this weekend is every bit as important as what happens in July,” said XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas, who will be overseeing all the action at the inaugural XTERRA Chile in Santiago. “The advantage goes to those who put in the work during the off-season and come out swinging.”

XTERRA CHILE ELITE PREVIEW

After a quick celebration in San Juan, XTERRA Argentina elite champions Gonzalo Tellechea and Suzie Snyder (pictured) packed their bags and headed to Santiago for a shot at winning their second XTERRA major in as many weeks.

For Tellechea, a two-time Olympian, there will be many familiar faces and race kits lining up beside him as nearly the entire men’s field from Argentina have made their way to Chile including Maximiliano Morales (2nd at Argentina), Jean-Philippe Thibodeau (3rd), Branden Rakita (4th), Leon Drajer (5th), and Julien Buffe (7th).

There is also a strong contingent of Chilean home country greats itching for the opportunity to raise their flag on home soil, led by Felipe Barraza, who finished 4th at the Pan Am Championship race last year.

“It’s going to be a great race,” said Barraza. “The race place is epic and the course is pretty tough. I look forward to racing XTERRA here in my home country.”

Other Chilean elite men include Benjamin Munizaga, Gaspar Riveros, and Diego Moya.

In the women’s race Snyder, the reigning Pan Am Tour Champ, is looking to add a gem from Chile to her international trophy case resume that includes gold medals from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Argentina, and New Zealand.

“As much as I enjoy winning, rather than making that my focus, I prefer to concentrate on my own progress and journey and not worry about my competitors because my ultimate goal is always to feel as though I performed MY best,” said Snyder. “There is always a solid chance that any number of strong women will be on the line with me at each race which will push all of us to race harder and it excites me to see that the women’s field is growing in size and quality.”

In Chile, Snyder will match-up against one of the sports very best in hometown hero and three-time Olympian Barbara Riveros. Riveros, who placed 5th at the Rio Olympics, is no stranger to XTERRA having twice finished as the runner-up at Worlds (2012/14), and she just recently captured the IM 70.3 Taiwan title.

The depth of the Pan Am Tour elite women will be on display as well with 2016 No. 3 Kara LaPoint (USA), No. 5 and XTERRA Brazil Champion Sabrina Gobbo (BRA), and No. 9 Laura Mira (BRA). Morgane Riou, fresh off a career-best 2nd-place finish at Argentina, is also in the line-up.

XTERRA THAILAND ELITE PREVIEW

Reigning XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour champion Ben Allen (pictured from Australia headlines the elite men’s race at the inaugural XTERRA Phuket off-road triathlon.

Allen finished third behind Sam Osborne and Bradley Weiss at XTERRA Saipan two weeks ago, but neither the Kiwi nor the South African made their way to Thailand for this one. Kieran McPherson (NZL) and Markus Benesch (AUT), who were 4th and 5th in Saipan, did make the trek and look to be Allen’s toughest challengers.

It’s a colorful international cast of elite men with the likes of David Ballesteros from Spain, Fabrizio Bartoli from Italy, Michal Bucek from Slovakia, Aleskandr Dorovskikh from Russia, Peter Pouly from France, and Will Kelsay from the U.S. Of course, the locals will be cheering for hometown great Jaray Jearanay.

In the women’s race the “Swiss Miss” Renata Bucher (pictured) is looking for win No. 34 in her illustrious 14-year XTERRA career. She’s won an XTERRA major in 14 different countries, and is looking to make Thailand No. 15.

“I still love it, but every year it gets harder and harder,” said Bucher, who is more active now as a coach and mentor than a racer. “Now-a-days I am just trying to join new races and keep a good balance in my life.”

On the other end of the spectrum is XTERRA first-time Marika Wagner, a Swedish adventure racer with big potential. “I’m very excited for this,” said Wagner. “I’m a multisport, swim-run, and adventure racer but new to XTERRA. I used to race triathlon when I was younger so for me this is a combination of my career both now and before.”

Joining Bucher and Wagner on the start line is APAC Tour No. 9 Belinda Hadden from Australia, and former XTERRA amateur World Champ Kelli Montgomery who is making her elite debut.

“This is a truly unique event combining the crystal waters of the Andaman sea with the forest and farmland of the island,” said course designer Fausto Izquiel. “It’ll be a great challenge for competitors, but very scenic as well as it goes through the tropical forest.”

XTERRA MALTA ELITE PREVIEW

Brigitta Poor from Hungary and Roger Serrano from Spain (pictured) are hoping to start 2017 in the same way they started 2016 – with wins at XTERRA Malta.

“The women’s field is really strong, and includes the last three Euro Tour winners” said XTERRA European Tour director Nicolas Lebrun. “It includes Poor (the 2016 Tour Champ), Helena Erbenova, who has been the strongest overall female athlete in Europe for the last few years and was the 2015 Tour Champ, and we are happy to see the return of our 2014 European Tour Champion Kathrin Mueller. She was very busy working for Skinfit the last two years, and it’s good to have her back. She was one of those girls who could challenge Helena more often than others in the past. We also have Carina Wasle, who is fit and ready coming off a win at XTERRA Saipan, Euro Tour No. 7 Louise Fox, No. 8 Maud Goldsteyn, and No. 14 Kristina Lapinova. It will also be interesting to see what young Mendito from Italy can do in the full XTERRA distance. Last year in Switzerland in the ETU Junior race she smashed the field so I am looking forward to seeing them all starting the season.”

In the men’s race the stage belongs to the friendly bearded man named Serrano, who will also serve as the race director for XTERRA Spain this year.

“He is a great character, very good in communication but now also in this new role as the organizer of XTERRA in Spain, I’m interested to see if he is fit and ready to rock,” said Lebrun.

“I think he’ll be ready. I saw him last month working for his race in Tarragona and he looked fit. Karl Shaw, the 2016 XTERRA Costa Rica Champion, looks like one of his main contenders as he started strong last season coming off of training camp, and Francois Carloni, Tour No. 5 is here as well.”

The young guns are headed to Malta looking to establish their place on the European Tour with the likes of Peter Lehman (No. 6), Max Chane (No. 14), Hannes Wolpert (No. 23), and Max Sasserath (No. 41).

“This race was good for those guys last year when the top five men were all under 25-years-old, but don’t forget Pyott, Thijs, and Kubek are also here and will fight for the top 10,” said Lebrun.

Tellechea, Snyder win XTERRA Argentina

Hometown hero and XTERRA newcomer Gonzalo Tellechea joined reigning Pan Am Tour Champ and XTERRA veteran Suzie Snyder on the top step of the podium at the 2nd annual XTERRA Argentina Championship in San Juan this afternoon.

It’s the first XTERRA win for Tellechea, and the 8th in Snyder’s storied 13-year career.

XTERRA World Tour managing director “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas was on-site to take in all the action and brings us this report…

Today was about as opposite as you could get.  Last year, cool and rainy, this year hot with bright sun.  XTERRA Argentina came off almost flawlessly today.

The “dique” or dam was full of warm water and our athletes lined up for the swim start looking west towards the snowcapped Andes in Chile, where the show goes next week.  The gun went off at exactly 10am with the elites in a non-wetsuit start one-minute ahead of the wetsuit-optional age groupers.

“The swim was a bit long,” laughed Brazilian pro Sabrina Gobbo.  “I felt like I was paddling forever,” agreed Kara LaPoint.

French Canadian Jean-Philippe Thibodeau was first out of the water and onto the bike.  He was followed by a group that included Frenchman Julian Buffe, American Branden Rakita and the two-time Olympian Tellechea.

Tellechea (pictured above) is a true local boy from San Juan and is an Argentine star.  He represented Argentina at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and has podiumed several times in world cup events.  It did not take the local speedster long to take the lead.  Tellechea, who grew up riding mountain bikes, held a comfortable lead through the technical sections about half way around the first lap.

Thibodeau held strong in second with Rakita looking good in 3rd.  “Mad Maximiliano” Morales had given away over 3-minutes on the swim but was charging hard and was gaining ground, already up to 5th behind Julian Buffe.

For the women, Snyder (pictured above) controlled the day.  She was first from the swim but about 500m out on the bike she came past me and I heard a ‘pfssst’ and sure enough she had to stop to fix a flat.

“I knew no woman had gone by but I started riding way too fast,” she said after the race.  “I was a bit over my head and crashed pretty good before I told myself to calm down and ride my race.”

In second position was young French pro Morgane Riou.   Morgane has been working hard on her biking skills and she was safely in 2nd place when her front wheel slipped out at a twisty bit and down she went.  So, the top two women had both come off their bikes.

Kara LaPoint nearly did not start this morning.  “I was so sick at 7:00 I said no way I can race today.  I turned off the alarm and went back to sleep.  I got up about 8:30 and felt better and said I’d give it a try.”  Try she did soldiering bravely in 3rd.

The plot thickened in the men’s race with Tellechea still holding the lead and Thibodeau in second but Morales was getting close and was now up into 3rd, Branden 4th, and Buffe 5th.  That’s the way it stayed going into-and-out of T2.

The race has a bike/run crossover and organizers solved this by making a bridge the runners go over and bikes go under.  The evil (and fun) thing is immediately after the bridge is a 3-foot high hurdle before you head out to the desert for an agonizing 10.5K.

“Morales passed me about the 4K mark and I couldn’t stay with him,” said Thibodeau.

Morales had put in the fastest bike time and was now flying on the run.  “I was not too worried about staying in front,” said Tellechea.  “I know Morales and usually can run a bit faster than him, but not too far into the run my right leg starting hurting and I had to watch my pace.”

Indeed, Morales caught and passed Tellechea, making time on the up-and-down sections through the desert.  Going into the last 2-kilometers the run the course follows a dry riverbed.  When they got back on the flats Tellechea sprinted past Morales and the race was on.  They shadowed each other for a long while before the younger man took charge to win by 25-seconds.  Thibodeau kept strong into 3rd and Yank Branden Rakita came 4th.  Buffe was suffering in the over 90-degree heat and dropped to 7th.  Spain’s León Martin Drajer was 5th.

In the women’s race Snyder was way out front to take a very strong win and 13th overall. Riou had her best XTERRA yet with a good 2nd-place showing well ahead of the brave, but struggling Kara LaPoint.  Brazilians Sabrina Gobbo and Laura Mira Dias finished 4th and 5th, respectively.

After the finish line athletes were greeted with a nice, chilled box of fruit, ice cold water or Gatorade and shade.  While there was a breeze that helped, this course has not one tree to ride or run under.  Combine that with a cloudless, sunny day with temps over 90 and it was tough.

So, we have a new face as a winner and a strong start to the Pan Am season.  Max Morales had the fastest bike and run splits and promises to work in the pool.  I spoke with more than a dozen athletes from Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica and Argentina that will do at least four races in the series.  It seems the South American athletes want more XTERRA, and we will give it to them.

Full marks to organizer Jose Arancibia, his wife Laura, and his staff for a great weekend of racing … and, it is not over.  Tomorrow (Sunday) there will be trail runs and more mountain bike races.  They call it XTERRA Fest and indeed it is.  With Chile next week and Costa Rica following, this trifecta of races in wonderful places has a lot of appeal.  Combine all this with inexpensive living and fabulous Argentinian Malbec and Chilean Cabernet and you have even more reason to put the Pan American Tour spring schedule on your calendar.

“The race today was interesting,” exclaimed Snyder.  “I got a great result with a win, but it wasn’t pretty!  It was definitely a ‘shake out the cobwebs and remember how to race again’ kind of day!  The organization was great and I can’t thank XTERRA Argentina enough for their help in making this trip possible for me and for putting on a great event!  It’s been a little crazy adapting to the time and culture differences (dinner at 9 or 10:00 and getting to bed at 1am!) and sometimes getting things a little mixed up because of the language differences can lead to less than ideal training and recovery, but that’s just the way things go when traveling and racing in foreign countries sometimes. I am thankful to have Branden and Kara here to share the experience and adventures with! The toughest element of the day was probably the heat, especially considering how exposed the course is- there’s not even a single tree out there on the rocky landscape. I expect Chile to be similar; a tough course and also very hot so hopefully by the third race in Costa Rica we’ll be semi heat adapted?!  The swim went well, though I was solo all the way. Not fast enough to stay with the men but faster than the other women so I just went my pace and focused on sighting and swimming straight. On the bike I only rode a few hundred meters before having to stop to air up my front tire. I had trouble with it holding air earlier in the week but it seemed to be holding yesterday…too bad it didn’t last through today. After that I think I was riding a bit too hard to make up time that I lost and with a bit too much air in the front I had trouble controlling the bike in some of the deep sand and rutted descents. I crashed hard once and had trouble getting into a rhythm but managed to settle in better on the second lap. Going out on the run I didn’t know what kind of lead I had but I felt strong so I pushed it for the first couple miles up the dry river bed which was deep, loose sand and rock. My left lower leg was bruised pretty badly and swollen so I didn’t have much control of my ankle so it kept rolling on the uneven rocky terrain. I also missed a course marking and ran off course for a couple hundred meters once. Oops. It’s amazing how you forget in only a few short months how it feels to suffer at race intensity and it’s also a painful reminder of what happens when you don’t control the emotion and effort well.”

Learn more about the XTERRA Pan America Tour here.  More Photos here.

Tentative Elite Results

XTERRA Argentina was the fourth of 41 events where amateur athletes from around the world could qualify to race at the 22nd annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on October 29.

Date Race Elite Winners or Location
Feb 25 XTERRA South Africa Richard Murray / Flora Duffy
Mar 4 XTERRA Motatapu Dougal Allan / Josie Wilcox
Mar 18 XTERRA Saipan + Silver Sam Osborne / Carina Wasle
Mar 25 XTERRA Argentina # Silver Gonzalo Tellechea / Suzie Snyder
Apr 1 XTERRA Thailand + Silver Phuket
Apr 1 XTERRA Chile # Silver San Bernardo, Santiago
Apr 2 XTERRA Malta * Silver Majjistral Nature Reserve
Apr 8 XTERRA New Zealand + Silver Rotorua, North Island
Apr 9 XTERRA Costa Rica # Silver Playa Reserva Conchal
Apr 16 XTERRA La Reunion La Reunion Island
Apr 23 XTERRA Cyprus * Silver Lara Beach/Akamas, Paphos
Apr 23 XTERRA Cebu + GOLD Danao, Cebu, Philippines
Apr 29 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship / Malaysia + GOLD Langkawi, Malaysia
Apr 30 XTERRA Greece * Silver Vouliagmeni
May 6 XTERRA Tahiti + Silver Moorea
May 14 XTERRA Spain * Silver Taragonna
May 14 XTERRA Brazil # Silver Ilha Bella, Sao Paolo
May 20 XTERRA Oak Mountain # GOLD Pelham, AL, USA
May 27 XTERRA Portugal * Silver Golega
Jun 10 XTERRA Belgium * Silver Namur
Jun 17 XTERRA Mine over Matter ^ Milton, Ontario, Canada
Jun 18 XTERRA Finland * Silver Imatra
Jun 24 XTERRA Switzerland * GOLD Vallee de Joux
Jul 2 XTERRA France * GOLD Xonrupt
Jul 9 XTERRA Victoria # Silver Victoria, B.C., Canada
Jul 15 XTERRA Beaver Creek # GOLD Beaver Creek, CO, USA
Jul 30 XTERRA Abruzzo * Silver Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy
Aug 5 XTERRA Mexico # GOLD Tapalpa
Aug 5 XTERRA Norway * Silver Norefjell
Aug 6 XTERRA Canmore ^ Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Aug 12 XTERRA Quebec ^ Quebec City, Canada
Aug 12 XTERRA Parry Sound ^ Ontario, Canada
Aug 13 XTERRA Dominican Republic # Silver Barahona
Aug 13 XTERRA Poland * Silver Krakow
Aug 19 XTERRA Germany * GOLD Zittau
Aug 26 XTERRA Sweden * Silver Hammarbybacken, Stockholm
Aug 26 XTERRA Sleeping Giant ^ Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
Sep 2 XTERRA Japan + Silver Hokkaido
Sep 3 XTERRA European Championship / Denmark * GOLD Mons Klint
Sep 16 XTERRA Pan American Championship / USA # D-GOLD Ogden, Utah, USA
Oct 29 XTERRA World Championship Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

* XTERRA European Tour / # XTERRA Pan American Tour / + Asia-Pacific Tour

Silver = Min. $7,500 pro purse & 75-point scale // GOLD = Min $15,000 pro purse & 100-point scale.

Pan Am Tour kicks off at XTERRA Argentina on Saturday

The 2017 XTERRA Pan America Tour gets underway Saturday at the second-annual XTERRA Argentina Championship in San Juan.

American Suzie Snyder, the reigning Pan Am Tour Champ, says she had a good off-season and is ready to start her title defense on Saturday.

“I feel cautiously good about the upcoming season,” said Snyder, who had a breakout year in 2016 with five big wins and a 3rd-place finish at XTERRA Worlds. “I’ve worked really hard on my running over the winter because I felt like I struggled with that last year while still recovering from the pelvis injury in 2015. I think I maintained my swim fitness pretty well, but may have let my cycling slip a bit so this first race will be a good way to see where I’m at.”

Snyder will face off against fellow American and familiar foe Kara LaPoint, who finished 3rd in the Pan Am Tour last year and is also eager to see where she stands after a winter spent training and recovering from an injury.

“This will be the first opportunity I’ve had to test myself now that I’m healthy and I’m really excited,” said LaPoint. “I’m staying relaxed and focused, but I’m looking forward to opening it up out there and seeing what I’ve got.”

Laura Mira Dias from Brazil, who was third at this race a year ago, is back in the mix and the wild card in the women’s field has to be Morgane Riou, who finished 5th on the XTERRA European Tour in her rookie elite season last year.

“Winter training went well, with big efforts on the mountain bike,” said Riou, who is a Commandant in the French military. “I’m ready for the hills and looking forward to starting the season in San Juan.”

Euro Tour director Nico Lebrun did some training with Riou in February and said she has come a long way in the last few years.  “It’s amazing the progress she has made on the mountain bike.  Three years ago it was her weakness, and she took the challenge to get better seriously and worked a lot on her skills.  She had to slow down a little bit on the run training to focus on riding, but she is a natural runner, and I’m 100% sure that if she can put up a strong bike split, she will run fast anyway.”

Still, the favorite is the seasoned vet Suzie Snyder, who added “I’ve been racing XTERRA for 14 years because I love the sport.  Off-road training and racing is full of friendly people, whom I’ve made great friends with and the training and racing is both fun and challenging, which is what keep training and racing fresh, allowing me to continue training hard and dedicating myself to becoming the best athlete I can be.”

The men’s elite race is highlighted by another XTERRA veteran, American Branden Rakita who finished fourth on the Pan Am Tour last season.

“I want to win one of the XTERRA Pan Am series races this year,” said Rakita, who has come close several times including a runner-up performance in the Dominican Republic last year.  “I have come close but wins never come easy, they really have to be earned.  I am looking to start the year strong at XTERRA Argentina. It is always a bit of an unknown going into the first race of the year to see how the body will respond from the training, but I know it is going to be a great experience and I look forward to the challenges that this new course will bring.”

Expect to see Canadian Jean-Philippe Thibodeau come out of the water early with Rakita, as the strong swimmer from Quebec continues his momentum from 2016.  And local favorite Maximiliano Morales, who was third in the race last year, is hoping to be on the podium this year as well.

Frenchman Julien Buffe is also in the mix, and hoping to make a big step-up from his rookie pro season last year when mechanical problems and bad luck affected his racing.  Lebrun believes his persistent effort and strong off-season could reveal his true XTERRA potential in 2017.

XTERRA World Tour managing director Dave Nicholas is in Argentina to cover all the action and says everything is looking good for an exciting race weekend.

“It’s been a great start to our second year here in San Juan,” said Nicholas.  “Suzie, Branden, Kara and I did a TV interview live on Channel 8, the biggest local station, last night and this morning we had a huge press conference with every newspaper and TV station in the entire province at San Juan’s sports center.  This facility is huge and is used for concerts, ice hockey, boxing and more.  The secretary of sports for the province, Jorge Chica, was our host and has been very important in supporting XTERRA.”

The main event features a 1500-meter swim in Lake Ullum followed by a 30km mountain bike segment, and 9.5km trail run. The trails are primarily hard, packed earth and rocks, due to the arid environment, and the mountain bike course includes several technical sections, including an 1800-meter climb out of a dry riverbed followed by a quick drop.

The XTERRA event is part of a three-day race festival, which includes open water swims, trail races, and a 50K mountain bike race.

“San Juan is a major metropolis of 700,000 citizens and a great place to visit,” said Nicholas.  “There is jet service into the small airport from several major cities in South America.  San Juan is a huge wine production region – the 2nd largest in Argentina and believe me; the local Malbec is as delicious as the local beef.  Recently the silver and gold mines have been revived with new technology, so this part of the world is doing very well.”

San Juan is near the base of the Andes Mountains and as the southern hemisphere heads into autumn temperatures are mild, humidity is low, the scenery is spectacular, and for sure the racing will be fast.

Learn more about the XTERRA Pan America Tour here.

XTERRA Profile: Sam Osborne

Hometown: Rotorua, New Zealand

Twitter: @sam_osborneNZ

 

2017: Won the XTERRA Saipan Championship on March 18 to take the early lead in the Asia-Pacific Tour standings.

2016: Finished 2nd at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Australia, was 5th at XTERRA Portugal, 2nd at XTERRA Belgium, 7th at Switzerland, 2nd at Italy, 3rd at Sweden, 2nd at the XTERRA European Championship in Germany and 2nd at XTERRA Denmark.  Finished 2nd on the XTERRA European Tour. Placed 9th in the XTERRA World Championship.

2015: Finished 2nd at XTERRA New Zealand, won XTERRA Sweden and was 2nd at XTERRA Denmark.

History at XTERRA Worlds: Finished in 9th place last year. DNF in 2015.

Thoughts from XTERRA European Tour Director Nicolas Lebrun: Sam is a pure Kiwi! He’s a strong athlete but is always loose and has fun. He had some great results last year, was second on the Euro tour and at the European Championship in Germany he finished just seconds behind Ruzafa. With the experience he gained in 2016, I bet we will see him crossing the line first a few times this season and celebrate it all night!  He has the perfect XTERRA spirit, to fight hard with your main competitors during the race and then enjoy a few beers with them as real friends afterwards!”

QnA (circa March 2017)

XE: Are you a full time pro Athlete? if not what is your occupation?
I pretend to be, while I’m away for the majority of the racing season I’m still studying for mathematics degree & NZ summer I work as a MTB guide & Barista

XE: Family Status?
Just me and my shadow

XE: What is your daily or week training plan?
Hours, weeks, months they all kinda flow into each other

XE: What do you eat for breakfast before a big race?
Weetbix, cause Kiwi Kids are Weet-bix kids

XE: What type of diet do you follow?
I don’t really just try to keep what I eat reasonably balanced

XE: How many years have you been involved with XTERRA?
2015 I started to throw my hat in the ring a bit

XE: What is your athletic background-How did you started?
I started with mountain biking when I was younger but moved on to ITU racing when I was at school and it’s only in the last 18-months or so I’ve picked up the mountain bike again.

XE: Which of the three disciplines is your favorite?
I like all really, go through phases of what is the flavor of the month

XE: How many XTERRA’s did you race in 2016, (results)
New Zealand 2nd
Asia Pacific Champs (Australia) 2nd
Portugal 5th
Belgium 2nd
Switzerland 7th
Italy 2nd
Sweden 3rd
Germany 2nd
Denmark 2nd
Maui 9th

XE: Last year you had a fantastic season in Europe, finishing second on the Tour, in Denmark in some point you were leading the race and the tour, then Mauricio passed you and gave the tour to Ruben, do you still think about it ?
Ha yea it was agonizingly close, it really wasn’t long to go in the race when Mauricio came past me so naturally I was a bit gutted at the finish. I wouldn’t say I think about it much really, it never pays to look back at what could have or would have been. I do take a fair amount of comfort in the fact that I went out there and put it all on the line, and was just beaten by a better man on the day (who now calls himself World Champ). If I could have got more out of myself that day I would have given it trust me.

XE: In Germany you had also a great race, you almost caught Ruben, is this one of your goals, to try to beat this guy at least once ?
Germany was up there with some of my best races last year. Absolutely it’s a big goal, Ruben has had a cross on his back for a long time now, but to be fair that goes with anybody that has been at the top for that long. He’s obviously very classy and you’ve got to have respect for a guy like that, he’s a tough competitor to race and hopefully we’ll get to line up a few good tussles this year.

XE: What are your XTERRA plans for 2017?
I’m going to have a crack at the Asia Pacific Tour this year and then make the journey back over to Europe. I haven’t mapped out exactly how Europe will look yet but I will definitely be coming back.

XE: What is your favorite XTERRA?
Xterra NZ, and I don’t think its all biased. I really do believe that NZ is one of the best courses around. The mountain biking in Rotorua is really something else, I am yet to find somewhere on my travels that rivals what we have in New Zealand (happily take suggestions and a tour guide to show me this year though). I have held Jan Pyott to ransom over showing me a bit of Switzerland’s trails though this year.

In terms of races in Europe, hard to narrow it down to one, they all have their own unique elements. I love the bike course in Sweden, the town Scanno in Italy and the brutality of the course there and then the atmosphere they have in Germany is unreal.

Myriam Guillot-Boisset Dives into Race Season

“You want to hear something very funny?” giggles Myriam “Mimi” Guillot-Boisset. “My mother was a swim instructor, and you know how you never want to do what your parents do? Well, now she teases me about not taking her lessons, and I have to say ‘I know, I know, I was stupid.”

Mimi is the first to admit that swimming is not her strongest of the three XTERRA disciplines, but that hasn’t stopped her from climbing to the top of the XTERRA elite rankings.

Last year at the XTERRA World Championships in Maui where she finished 4th overall, her run time was the third fastest behind only the champ, Flora Duffy, and the runner-up Lesley Paterson. Her raw foot speed and technical skills on the mountain bike contributed to her 4th place ranking on the XTERRA Pan America Tour and 6th-place ranking on both the XTERRA Asia Pacific Tour and the XTERRA European Tour.

In 2016 Mimi won XTERRA Costa Rica and XTERRA Argentina on back-to-back weekends in March, and she almost pulled off a third win at XTERRA Mexico, where she was nosed-out for the win by American Suzie Snyder.

“I was second on the run and I had no idea were Suzie was. I didn’t see her until the end of the second lap on the last downhill trail when we only had 500-meters to go,” said Guillot-Boisset.  “We finished together by a sprint and it was so exciting even if I couldn’t quite catch her.”

This fall and winter, Mimi took four months to focus on training at her home in Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands off West Africa where she lives with her husband Jacky Boisset. Each week, she trains for 25-30 hours, doing two workouts a day, combining running, swimming, and biking as well as yoga and stretching.

She has also doubled down on swimming and is looking forward to testing the waters in the 2017 XTERRA season. She has a swim coach (although its not her Mom) and she has upped her pool workouts to four times a week. Mimi admits, “It’s hard to jump on the podium with a slow swim.”

Often, she has to pass dozens of athletes on the mountain bike and swim sections in order to finish in her usual elite fashion. “Maui was hard,” she says. “The course was so muddy, and I had to pass packs of people. I love when it’s an adventure, but it took a lot of energy.”

Typically, Mimi has a great deal of energy, which she contributes to her raw, vegan diet.

“We used to be more normal,” she says, shielding her face to the morning sun that is now rising over her bright, eco-friendly home. “But I didn’t feel the way I wanted to feel. Jacky and I spent a lot of time in China and Australia and we adopted their simpler lifestyles. Now I can’t imagine living differently. It’ so easy and perfect.”

Mimi and her husband Jacky Boisset eat mostly fruits and vegetables. “We have one to 1.5 kilos of papaya for breakfast, then a kilo of bananas for lunch, and a big salad for dinner. We are entirely plant powered!”

She and her husband carefully track what they eat to ensure they get adequate protein and nutrition for their training. Their plan for the future is to launch a nutrition coaching service to share what she has learned about food to a wider audience.

“If you want to live simply, you need to eat simply. The beauty is that it’s natural and stronger for your body. Our goal isn’t to eat for racing but to eat for a good, long life.”

While many athletes eschew travel, it’s one of the things Mimi loves about XTERRA and the sport of triathlon in general.

“XTERRA is so good for the body because you are doing different sports and moving the body in different ways,” she says. “It’s also good for our head and our hearts. When we live in a small space, we can become isolated. XTERRA allows me to travel to different worlds and connect with people and life around me.”

Mimi’s athletic prowess will take her around the world this year from her home in Tenerife to XTERRA Malaysia, XTERRA Philippines, XTERRA Mexico, and races on the XTERRA European tour including Switzerland and France. And, you can be sure to see Mimi at the starting line at the XTERRA World Championships in Maui this December.

“I’m excited to be faster on the swim this year,” she says. “After two fourth place finishes in Maui, it will be a pleasure to jump up on the podium.”

Sam Osborne

Osborne, Wasle win XTERRA Saipan

Sam Osborne from New Zealand and Carina Wasle of Austria captured the 16th annual XTERRA Saipan Championship crowns on a windy, yet beautiful Saturday morning in the Northern Marianas.

The win is Osborne’s second major victory on the XTERRA World Tour (he won Sweden, 2015) and it’s the 14th big win in Wasle’s storied 13-year career.

In the men’s race 4x Saipan Champ Ben Allen and Osborne were the first two out of the water, clocking 1.5km swim times of 19:17 and 19:18, respectively. Olympian Yuichi Hosoda was about 30-seconds back with Kieran McPherson close behind, while Brodie Gardner and Bradley Weiss were more than one-minute off the leaders pace.

“It was windy this morning and there was quite a bit of current in the water. I just stayed on Benny’s feet through the swim and we started to climb that hill together on the bike,” said Osborne. “I was able to pull away a little on the bike and towards the top it was Bradley Weiss behind me. I saw him coming and knew I had to have a good descent to keep some space between us because Bradley can run.”

Weiss posted the fastest bike split of the day (1:24:50) and entered the bike-to-run transition about 1:30 behind Osborne, who went on to post the fastest run of the day (50:15) to take the win.

“I was running scared the whole time. I saw what Bradley did in South Africa and know what he is capable of. That run is hard, a lot of jumping and changing direction,” said Osborne, the vice-champion of the XTERRA European Tour who finished 2nd at six of the 10 XTERRA races he competed in last year. “I’m so happy to finally get the win, it’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve had so many podiums, it’s great to finally break through.”

Osborne was also in awe of the island itself, saying “It is an amazing place. It seems so untouched, so beautiful. That’s what I really enjoy about this sport is the places. I might never have discovered Saipan if not for XTERRA, and I’m so happy I did. This place is great, the people are warm and so welcoming and the course is pure adventure. I’ve had a blast.”

The Kiwi will now head back to his hometown in Rotorua for XTERRA New Zealand on April 8, then continue his quest to steal the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour title from Allen with stops in the Philippines and Malaysia… “and maybe Tahiti too, I saw that Mauricio is headed there and I might just have to give him a run for his money in Moorea.”

Carina Wasle

In the women’s race it was Wasle from wire-to-wire with the fastest swim, bike, and run splits that added up to a winning time of 3:18:54. She jumped out to an early lead, transitioning from the swim to the bike about 40-seconds ahead of Mieko Carey, and never looked back.

“I had an amazing race today,” said Wasle, who has now won two in a row and three of the last four XTERRA Saipan titles. “I was ahead the whole race, and was able to get in a good rhythm on the uphills, then on the downhills I was clean with no crashes or flats.”

The overcast and windy conditions also played to Wasle’s advantage. “It was relatively cool here in Saipan today with the clouds and even a little breeze.”

Wasle credits her annual warm weather training in South Africa as the key to her success today, saying “I had a really good training camp and I feel good, I feel fit. I worked a lot on my swim and it payed off.”

The pint-sized Austrian will head back to Europe for the season-opener at XTERRA Malta on April 2nd, then try to defend her title at XTERRA Reunion on April 16 before getting back to the Asia-Pacific Tour stops in the Philippines and Malaysia.

XTERRA Saipan was the first of seven races on this year’s XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour. Next up is XTERRA Thailand on April 1 in Phuket, followed by XTERRA New Zealand on April 8, XTERRA Cebu (Philippines) on April 23, the $25,000 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Langkawi, Malaysia on April 29, XTERRA Tahiti on May 6, and the finale at XTERRA Japan in Hokkaido on September 2. Every race counts for points and the tour titles go to the pros and amateurs in each division who collect the most points by the end of the season. Learn more about the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour here.

Tentative Elite Results

Complete Results will be available at www.jtltiming.com upon race completion.

2017 XTERRA ASIA-PACIFIC TOUR ELITE POINT STANDINGS – AFTER 1

Elite Men

PL NAME, NAT TOT SPN THA NZL PHI MAS TAH JPN
1 Sam Osborne, NZL 75 75
2 Bradley Weiss, RSA 67 67
3 Ben Allen, AUS 61 61
4 Kieran McPherson, NZL 56 56
5 Markus Benesch, AUT 51 51
6 Will Kelsay, USA 47 47
7 Yuichi Hosoda, JPN 43 43
8 Brodie Gardner, AUS 39 39
9 Aleksandr Dorovskikh, RUS 36 36
10 Dominik Wychera, AUT 33 33
11 Joe Miller, PHI 30 30
12 Emil Duraj, SVK 27 27
13 Akihiko Maeda, JPN 25 25
14 Michal Bucek, SVK 23 23
15 Takahiro Ogasawara, JPN 21 21

Elite Women

PL NAME, NAT TOT SPN THA NZL PHI MAS TAH JPN
1 Carina Wasle, AUT 75 75
2 Mieko Carey, JPN 67 67

All-time XTERRA Saipan Elite Champions

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
2017 – Sam Osborne/Carina Wasle

2017 XTERRA World Championship Qualifying Series Schedule
XTERRA Saipan was the third of 41 events where amateur athletes from around the world could qualify to race at the 22nd annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on October 29.

Date
Race
Elite Winners or Location
Feb 25
Richard Murray / Flora Duffy
Mar 4
Dougal Allan / Josie Wilcox
Mar 18
XTERRA Saipan + Silver
Sam Osborne / Carina Wasle
Mar 25
Dique Ullum, San Juan
Apr 1
Phuket
Apr 1
XTERRA Chile # Silver
San Bernardo, Santiago
Apr 2
XTERRA Malta * Silver
Majjistral Nature Reserve
Apr 8
Rotorua, North Island
Apr 9
Playa Reserva Conchal
Apr 16
La Reunion Island
Apr 23
XTERRA Cyprus * Silver
Lara Beach/Akamas, Paphos
Apr 23
Danao, Cebu, Philippines
Apr 29
Langkawi, Malaysia
Apr 30
XTERRA Greece * Silver
Vouliagmeni
May 6
Moorea
May 14
XTERRA Spain * Silver
Taragonna
May 14
XTERRA Brazil # Silver
Ilha Bella, Sao Paolo
May 20
Pelham, AL, USA
May 27
Golega
Jun 10
Namur
Jun 17
Milton, Ontario, Canada
Jun 18
Imatra
Jun 24
Vallee de Joux
Jul 2
Xonrupt
Jul 9
Victoria, B.C., Canada
Jul 15
Beaver Creek, CO, USA
Jul 30
Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy
Aug 5
Tapalpa
Aug 5
XTERRA Norway * Silver
Norefjell
Aug 6
Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Aug 12
Quebec City, Canada
Aug 12
Ontario, Canada
Aug 13
Barahona
Aug 13
XTERRA Poland * Silver
Krakow
Aug 19
Zittau
Aug 26
XTERRA Sweden * Silver
Hammarbybacken, Stockholm
Aug 26
Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
Sep 2
XTERRA Japan + Silver
Hokkaido
Sep 3
Mons Klint
Sep 16
Ogden, Utah, USA
Oct 29
Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

* XTERRA European Tour / # XTERRA Pan American Tour / + Asia-Pacific Tour
Silver = Min. $7,500 pro purse & 75-point scale // GOLD = Min $15,000 pro purse & 100-point scale

XTERRA in Canada, Eh!

There are seven XTERRA races from coast-to-coast in Canada in 2017, and each race dishes out qualifying spots for amateurs into the XTERRA World Championship*.

The action starts at the magnificent Kelso Conservation Area with XTERRA Mine over Matter on June 17. It’s Karsten Madsen’s home course, and sits just 40 minutes outside of the bustling city of Toronto.

There are two races on the weekend of July 8-9, is XTERRA Falcon Lake in Manitoba on the 8th followed by XTERRA Victoria (B.C.) 1,500 miles away on the West Coast on the 9th.

Falcon Lake is a new race in the heart of the Canadian Shield – about half way between Kenora and Winnipeg with good proximity to US athletes in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Victoria is one of the true epic courses on the XTERRA World Tour and part of the Pan America Tour for professionals and amateurs offering US$7,500 in elite prize money and Maui slots to first place age groupers in all divisions.

August gets started at XTERRA Canmore, a spectacular destination in the Canadian Rockies. The event is August 6th in a beautiful town with stunning trails to ride and a long-history of great organization.

On August 12th, we have XTERRA Parry Sound in Ontario and XTERRA Quebec City in the French-speaking east coast of Canada. Both races offer up epic trails. The Parry Sound course navigates the newly-opened trail network at the Georgian Nordic Ski Club, while the Quebec course trails were literally custom-built for the race.  Quebec hosts a weekend long offroad festival with three different triathlons, duathlons for kids, swimruns, and trail running.

The last race in Canada is XTERRA Sleeping Giant in Thunder Bay, Ontario on August 26. It’s a beauty of a course contained entirely with Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

2017 XTERRA Races in Canada (Maui spots)

June 17 – XTERRA Mine over Matter (14 OPS) – Milton, Ontario, Canada

July 8 – XTERRA Falcon Lake (15) – Falcon Lake, Manitoba

July 9 – XTERRA Victoria, (26) Victoria, B.C., Canada*

August 6 – XTERRA Canmore, (15) Canmore, Alberta, Canada

August 12 – XTERRA Parry Sound (14 OPS) – McDougall, Ontario, Canada

August 12 – XTERRA Quebec – (15) Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

August 26 – XTERRA Sleeping Giant, (6) Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

*See individual race websites for Maui spot breakdowns

XTERRA Blackwater Sells Out

For the third year in a row, the XTERRA Blackwater event in Milton, Florida has sold out almost a month before the April first race date.

“One of the reasons the XTERRA Blackwater is so popular is because the course is challenging for experts but accessible enough for those just entering off-road events,” said race director, Ben Dillon.

Don Morrison of West Brandywine, Pennsylvania is leaving the snowy northeast to kickoff his XTERRA season by doubling up with the XTERRA Blackwater on Saturday and the XTERRA Blackwater Trail Run on Sunday.

“I travel to XTERRA races every year because it’s not just about the race. It’s an adventure with new trails, new friends, and great stories,” says Morrison. “At age 67, I have slowed down a bit, but the enjoyment of being in the woods is what it’s all about.”

As of early March, the water temperature was a chilly 65-degrees, so wetsuits are encouraged. After the 800-yard swim in Bear Lake, competitors will jump on a two-lap, twelve mile trail consisting of single track, fire road, and a brief stretch of pavement. The following 3.75-mile run is on well-maintained single track, with just enough rocks and roots to keep things interesting.

Having participated in more than 30 XTERRA races all over the world, Ben Dillon knows how to put on a great race. He is the founder of Blackwater Multisport, the organization behind both XTERRA events. “I was drawn to XTERRA because I could train for the races the way I used to train when I was an Aviation Rescue Swimmer in the Navy.”

U.S. Navy Aviation Rescue Swimmers are one of the top emergency response teams in the world. They routinely complete rescue missions in some of the most extreme environments, including mountain rescues, missions at sea, and humanitarian efforts in remote locations during natural disasters.

“The motto of every Aviation Rescue Swimmer is ‘So Others May Live,” says Dillon. “It’s a privilege to serve at this level, and after I separated from the Navy, I wanted to keep giving back. XTERRA’s “Live More” philosophy is aligned to my own beliefs, and I love to see people test their limits and succeed.”

XTERRA Blackwater is the second race in the XTERRA America Tour, and the first of nine in the Southeast Region. To find how the series works visit XTERRA America Tour.