World Tour Warriors Ben and Jacqui
The XTERRA World Championship is indeed global.
More than 700 athletes representing more than 30 countries and 42 states are entered in the 2012 XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon, which is scheduled for Sunday, October 28, at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, on the island of Maui.
Perhaps no other entrants can appreciate it more than professional triathletes Ben Allen and Jacqui Slack. For starters, Allen is from North Wollongong, Australia, and Slack is from Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom.
But that’s just the start. In 2012, Allen and Slack – who are dating – traveled to 10 different countries to participate in XTERRA races: Guam, Saipan, Philippines, New Zealand, Italy, France, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland and the United States.
They also happen to be pretty fast. Allen finished first overall at four of those races (Guam, Saipan, Philippines and New Zealand), and Slack was the top female at the Italy and New Zealand events.
“The journey’s been amazing,” Allen said. “I wouldn’t give anything to take it back. I’m so fortunate and lucky to be able to experience some of the most unique places around the world, and that’s thanks to XTERRA.”
Slack actually gave up her job as a firefighter in the United Kingdom to chase the XTERRA tour with Allen.
“Honestly, it wasn’t that difficult of a decision,” she said. “Obviously, I knew I had to leave my family and a secure job that I really enjoyed, but traveling around the world with Ben seemed like so much more fun.”
Last month, Allen placed second at the XTERRA USA Championship at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah. Slack placed seventh among the women. A year ago, Allen placed 29th at the XTERRA World Championship; this will be Slack’s first try at the XTERRA Worlds.
In effect, the full year of traveling and competing have turned them into contenders.
“I’m just excited to race,” Slack said. “I’ve not raced in four weeks now, so it’s been a while.”
Regardless of how they fare in Maui, Allen said the experience was worth the effort.
“In Guam, there was a unique rainfall that we had to run down,” Allen said. “In the Philippines it was Tour de France style where people would just line the street and were cheering from their homes. In Saipan, the support and running through the jungle, and in and out through caves. … it was an amazing experience, and I hope that everyone can one day try and get to all these unique places.”