For the second straight year the XTERRA Worlds course will traverse Maui Land & Pineapple Company’s 22,000-acre Kapalua oasis. Things have changed since the inaugural season, however, with significant changes to the swim and bike courses.
The race starts the same, with a 1.5-kilometer rough water swim at D.T. Fleming Beach fronting the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua; but for the first-time ever – it will feature wave starts beginning with pro men and women, then all age group men, then all age group women.
“We love the mass start but with a record-field of more than 700, it’s a matter of athlete safety,” explained race director Dave Nicholas. “This year the swim course will be like an Australian M course, so we’ll still have the famous XTERRA beach run where family and friends can see where you are in the pack.”
Click here for an overview of the swim/ocean safety briefing video.
Once on the bike riders will navigate from the Ritz to a ridgeline - down to a ravine - and back up again, “like a tropical roller-coaster ride through pineapple fields and forests.”
The bike is one big 18.8-mile loop with 3,100-feet of climbing that goes up-and-down the lower slopes of the West Maui Mountains more than a dozen times. This year several technical single and double track sections have replaced dirt jeep roads.
“The new stuff has tight, twisting, sharp corners, space just wide enough for your handlebars, places if you don’t get it right you’ll hit your shoulder on a tree,” said Nicholas.
“Almost all of the dirt roads have been eliminated on the way to the top and this will appeal to the better bikers. At about the five-mile mark you will pop out on a narrow ridge trail with hundred foot drop offs on either side. Don’t panic – the top is at least 15’ wide and the views of the surrounding forest and hills are simply spectacular. If I didn’t fall off – neither will you. In fact, if you come early and preview the course, bring your camera with you. The scenery is something that not many people get a chance to see.”
Once on the 10K run competitors will be faced with a whole lot of climbing while they weave along dirt trails, through Oleander forests, and into 60-foot high ironwood evergreens to an unexpected mountain lake at the 700-foot level.
“It descends like a slalom course through high green Bermuda grasses and opens up in spots to expose fantastic views of the Pacific,” said Nicholas. “Obstacles are everywhere, including a technical, steep downhill into a gully where racers will have to jump over and duck under fallen trees, navigate a rocky dry creek, head through thick elephant grass, up a short rope-assisted scramble and along a narrow single track trail with switchbacks that drop all the way down to the beach. The final test of skill and endurance is a calf-busting 250-meter sandy beach run.”