It’s Thursday afternoon in Maui and the melting pot of XTERRA is in full swing as racers from all over the world are shuttling through the Makena Beach & Golf Resort to pick up their race packets, and then hopping on their mountain bikes or slipping into their trail runners to hit the practice course. Here we take a look at just a few of the amazing individuals who will be racing on Sunday.
Lee Cannon (M 60-64) from Pleasanton, Calif. –In the 2007 XTERRA World Championship, two bikini-clad women started running alongside Lee as he was finishing the triathlon along Makena Beach. The image (pictured) was captured and has become one of XTERRA’s most talked about photos. Despite two bad knees, he will compete again this year (his fourth year on Maui).
Marcus Barton (M 40-44) from Waxhaw, North Carolina – Marcus is inspired by his wife Alba who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001. He said that even though she has MS, she still is one of the most physically fit people he knows, and she continues to train even though she faces a constant battle. Every time Marcus begins to hurt, cramp, or get frustrated in a race, he reminds himself of the pain and frustration Alba deals with everyday.
Jay Heller (M 40-44) from Las Vegas, Nevada – Jay has raced in every XTERRA World Championship but two. He missed the first year because he didn't know about it, and the other year he had a broken collar bone. Last year Jay survived the Double, and this year he’s doing a triple crown of sorts. On September 11th he rode and finished LOTOJA, the longest and largest single day road bike race in America (206 miles in one day). On September 22nd he raced in Cross Vegas, the biggest Cyclocross event in America, and on Sunday he’ll be here; competing in the most prestigious off-road triathlon in the world.
Chris McCrary (M 40-44) from Pleasant Hill, California - Chris is racing alongside his best friend Monica Zucker, and together they are racing in honor of Monica’s husband Pete who was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year and are doing all they can to raise awareness for the disease.
Doug Perry (M 40-44) from Honolulu, Hawaii – Doug is a Navy Captain, a submariner living in Honolulu and competing in Maui for the third time. He did his first XTERRA worlds in 2001, just a few weeks after the terrorist attack on the pentagon a few hundred feet from where he was working. Since then he’s been mostly on submarines, commanding the USS PASADENA out of Pearl Harbor. As the deputy commander of a squadron of fast attack submarines for the past 20 months, he’s spent about a third of his time preparing boats for overseas deployments, so most of his training has been on stationary bikes and treadmills.
Tim Lebling (M 40-44) from Seward, Alaska – Tim manages the rehabilitation program for sick, orphaned, and injured marine mammals in Alaska including sea otters, seal, sea lions and walrus at the Alaska SeaLife Center. He’s also an expert, or at least creative, costume designer and is looking to win the Halloween costume contest on Sunday night.
Emma Ruth Smith (F Pro) from Wotton-Under-Edge, Glos, United Kingdom – This is Emma’s first year as an XTERRA professional competitor. She left her previous job as a city lawyer in London to pursue the XTERRA world tour. Emma (pictured right) was an amateur age-group XTERRA world champion in 2008.
Marcelo Rodrigues (M 30-34) from Sao Paulo, Brazil – Marcelo qualified for the 2009 XTERRA World Championship, but had to withdraw after he suffered a broken arm during training just 20 days before the race. The injury sidelined him for two months but once he recovered, he started training hard again and eventually qualified for the 2010 XTERRA World Championship.
Slater Fletcher (M 30-34) from Huntington Beach, Calif. – Slater did his first XTERRA five years ago, and is going for the Hawaiian Airlines “Double” this year. He completed his first Ironman in Kona two weeks ago (finished in 9:27:10), and will also enter the Ultraman World Championships on the Big Island next month.
Andrew Ordelheide (M 25-29) from Loma Linda, Calif. – Andrew suffered a back injury in August that was supposed to keep him away from Maui, but he rehabilitated quickly. “Essentially killed my hopes at being competitive in Maui … but I'm coming to race anyway,” he said.
Jan Francke (M 25-29) from the Czech Republic – Jan is a former member of the Czech National Triathlon Team. He is a self-described adrenaline addict who once rode his bike across Australia with no support. He qualified for XTERRA World Championship through XTERRA Canada.
Amy Ruth Eck (F 30-34) from Kailua, Oahu – Amy’s bike was stolen a month ago. XTERRA veteran John Henderson offered her the use of his bike, so she will ride it in honor of his contributions to the sport. Henderson was struck by a bus while training on his bike on Oahu in May 2009. He is recovering from his injuries, and still needs the use of a wheelchair. Amy was the female amateur winner of the Hawaiian Airlines Double award last year.
Laurel Dudley (F 30-34) from Waialua, Oahu – She is the girlfriend of John Henderson, who was struck by a tour bus while training on his bike on Oahu in May 2009. Henderson, a former XTERRA competitor, has stayed in the sport of triathlon through coaching. Lauren says that his coaching has prepared her for Maui this year.
Lorenn Walker (F 55-59) from Waialua, Oahu – A five-time age-group XTERRA world champion, Lorenn has also been receiving coaching advice from John Henderson in preparation for Maui this year.
Eric Kollai (M 30-34) from Kailua, Oahu – He is doing a “quadruple” race experience that started in September and will end in November. He completed the Leadville 100 mountain bike race in September, and the Ironman World Championships two weeks ago. After the XTERRA World Championship, he will enter the La Ruta de los Conquistadores race in November. He works as an emergency physician on Oahu.
Raoul De Jongh (M 30-34) from Cape Town, South Africa – He is competing in the Hawaiian Airlines “Double” competition and went 9:37:23 in Kona. His blog, the urban-ninja.co.za was just voted the 2nd best sports blog in all of South Africa.
Ronald Scranton (M 65-59) from Tijeras, New Mexico – Ron is the epitome of perseverance. He has had five knee operations, a knee replacement, and has overcome cancer, a broken tibia, and a broken scapula. Despite all that, Ron still manages to race and keep up with his 10-year-old.
Fouad "Ed" Fattoumy (Physically Challenged Division) from Honolulu, Hawaii - The 43-year-old Honolulu resident emigrated from Morocco to Hawai‘i nine years ago. He has since become one of the most visible athletes in Honolulu as he can be seen riding his bike all over town all the time. Five years ago while training for the Ironman Fattoumy was in a hit-and-run accident with a car while riding his bike. The accident left him with spinal cord damage and chronic fatigue. The effects, similar to that of Spinal Stenosis - a condition due to narrowing of the spinal cord causing nerve pinching which leads to persistent pain in the buttocks, limping, lack of feeling in the lower extremities, and decreased physical activity, hasn’t stopped him from winning the physically challenged division of the grueling XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon the last three years, but it has made things just a little tougher.
Casey Fannin (M 50-54) from Birmingham, Alabama – Casey is “Mr. XTERRA 2010,” an honor he received at the XTERRA USA Championship for exemplifying the spirit of the sport. Five years ago here in Maui he befriended a gentleman that was struggling with alcohol addiction and pointed him in the right direction. This year, they’ll celebrate 5 years of clean, healthy, sober living.
Jonathan Kiley (M 30-34) from Abilene, Texas – Jonathan discovered XTERRA while he was earning his professional aeronautics degree from Embry-Riddle five years ago. Last year he won the Air Combat Command (ACC) Athlete of the Year award, and this year, after several years of trying, he qualified for Maui and will be joined here with his wife and one-year-old son.
Michael Stone (Physically Challenged Division) from Boulder, Colorado - This 41-year-old from Boulder, Colorado is legally blind and will compete with the help of a guide – his friend and former XTERRA Pro Jared Berg (pictured), who yells out warnings and directions. Six years ago Stone was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease called cone/rod dystrophy, which impairs the light receptors in his retina. Instead of living in darkness, like many people imagine blindness to be like, Stone’s world keeps getting painfully brighter. He often can’t see contrast, and his vision is dotted with blind spots. “It’s like someone is shining a couple of flashlights in your eyes.” Stone was inspired to compete while working on a book, Eye Envy, about a collection of people who despite dealing with blindness have gone on to live extraordinary lives. He races to raise money for the Foundation Fighting Blindness.
Shonny Vanlandingham (Pro) from Durango, Colorado – At 41-years-old she’s having her best season ever and Luna just extended her contract for two more years. Her goal is to race XTERRA until it’s an Olympic sport, and is hoping that by the time she’s 47 in 2016, she’ll be racing XTERRA in Rio!
Branden (Pro) and David Rakita (M 60-64) from Durango, Colorado - Branden is one of the top pros while his dad, David, is a current and 4-time XTERRA USA Champion in the 60-64 division. David has been competing in triathlons for 25 years and XTERRA since Keystone 1998, while his son has been racing as a pro since 2004.
Emma Garrard (Pro) from Park City, Utah – Emma is a photo journalist who got inspired to give XTERRA a try after a photo assignment to cover the USA Championship five years ago. She is now one of America’s best female pros (she finished 4th in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series this year).