This March the XTERRA World Tour hosts three exotic championship races in Asia – Guam/Philippines/Saipan - that each offer $15,000 in prize money to professionals and qualifying spots into the XTERRA World Championship for amateurs.
The events have attracted top flight pros from around the world including Tim DeBoom (USA), Olivier Marceau (SUI), Branden Rakita (USA), Ben Allen (AUS), Cedric Lassonde (FRA), Graham Wadsworth (GBR), Jacqui Slack (GBR), Takahiro Ogasawara (JPN), Renata Bucher (SUI), Carina Wasle (AUT), Daz Parker (GBR) and a cast of others.
The off-road triathlon adventures start in Guam on March 10, with a 1.5-kilometer ocean swim, followed by a 31km mountain bike and a memorable 8.2k trail run that has athletes navigating through jungle rivers and down slippery waterfalls. The Guam run has been described as a “signature test of courage” by Inside Triathlon and the race has been dubbed one of the "Top 5 Off-Road Triathlons in the World" by Triathlete Magazine.
Next up is the Philippines on March 18. Last year’s inaugural event had the largest spectator crowd in XTERRA history with thousands lining the bike and run courses, and high school cheerleaders in uniform waving the athletes on.
“You got so much energy from the cheering of the community,” said women’s winner Shonny Vanlandingham, the 2010 XTERRA World Champ. “The kids who watched the bike and run part of the race were chanting and cheering. It’s great to come to a place like the Philippines and feel the warm reception.”
New this year will by a half-distance XTERRA Lite race and 5k, 10k, and 21k trail runs to go along with the championship.
“What a place, what a day, what a race. The province of Cebu put on one hell of a show,” said XTERRA managing director “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas said after last year’s inaugural event.
“Saturday night Cebu put on a State dinner for the competitors that was beyond spectacular. We were met by hundreds of local dancers in costumes representing their cities, music playing, fabulous colors in a festival for the eyes. At dinner, with gobs of local delicacies, each of the dance troupes performed skits about their cities. It was simply fabulous.”
Getting to Cebu is easy either direct or through Manila. The hotels and resorts are great, prices are inexpensive and it is a shopper’s paradise. The food is different and delicious; the beer is cold and tasty. The race course is not too difficult and not too easy – the whole event is just about perfect.
Last, but certainly not least on the list, is the XTERRA Saipan Championship, aka the “Crown Jewel of XTERRA,” on March 24. Stick around a week and you can train and have fun with the visiting internationals and locals and race the Tagaman road tri on March 31.
The series provides a wonderful opportunity to kick an athletes’ season in style with warm weather, warm people, and great races.