Saturday’s XTERRA Guam Championship race is serious business. At stake is prize money, titles, pictures in magazines, qualifying spots into the XTERRA World Championship, points in the America Tour, bragging rights, and that simple, golden feeling of having all your hard work rewarded.
Yet look around the beautiful beaches of Tumon Bay and all you’ll see here are a bunch of super tan, happy, smiling triathletes.
“I tell people that it is so much more fun and friendlier than the average triathlon,” said Daz Parker from the UK, who originally had planned on just competing at the first race in the Philippines but ended up finding a way to stick around for all four.
“You get to meet amazing people and see such amazing, remote places that you would never know about otherwise. We’re running through jungles, WW2 caves, waist-deep rivers, in fact through history, it’s a beauty that you can never experience in a normal triathlon. Before and after the race, it is a big happy family and addictive, as soon as you get here and experience it for yourselves you want to come back again and again.”
XTERRA President Janet Clark was at the second stop of the circuit in Saipan, and said the experience was good for her soul.
“Agreed,” said three-time XTERRA South Africa Champ Dan Hugo. “The month away, especially time on Saipan and Guam, have been at "island speed" which is a full notch calmer than usual day-to-day back home. Have enjoyed the people that choose this quieter way. People make a place, and we've met some terrific characters on this trip. Plenty ocean sunsets, stellar views, and even some snorkeling.”
Jacqui Slack, the XTERRA Saipan and PIC Double champ, said “the races here are not just about the awesome courses. It’s about getting involved with the local lifestyle and inspiring the people. The young kids on the island are in awe of what we do and it's very humbling to know we can be roles models and help them accomplish their dreams.”
As for the courses themselves, from the Philippines to Saipan to Guam – they are pure adventure.
“Adventure to say the least!” replied Ben Allen, the king of the Triple Crown two years running now. “Imagine the toughest, roughest, most grueling race you have done. Now add in heat and humidity and unexpected down pours to make you push and challenge yourself to the limit and beyond.”
“Cebu, Saipan and now Guam - they share a common thread of non-commercialized, homely, raw untamed race routes that are quite out there,” added Hugo.
Slack says it’s exactly that untamed nature of the beast that makes it so rewarding.
“These races are the most extreme triathlons I’ve ever done. It’s not about the fastest swimmer, biker or runner, it’s about the challenge both mentally and physically and how you deal with those challenges. Everyone comes back with a story, and these are the races you remember for that reason,” said Slack.
Come Saturday the 30+ triathletes from around the world that have taken part in the tropical trio will put their race faces on and give it their best, but trust that for better or worse they’ll be sharing a laugh in the hours, days, and months to follow.
“Anyone who wants a holiday with adventure together with training should think about coming over. Those who love the chance to come out of their comfort zone and experience another culture far removed from their own, with smiling friendly faces should join us,” said Parker.
“Save your pennies and make these races a goal for the season,” added Slack. “I will guarantee you will have the time of your life. Do your research, speak to one of the pros and plan your trip well. You will most certainly make friends for life and it will be the best race/holiday experience you've ever had.”
ALL-TIME XTERRA GUAM CHAMPIONS
Year Men Women
2006 Courtney Cardenas Jamie Whitmore
2007 Olivier Marceau Julie Dibens
2008 Andrew Noble Mieko Carey
2009 Sam Gardner Julie Dibens
2010 Sam Gardner Renata Bucher
2011 Sam Gardner Mieko Carey
2012 Ben Allen Renata Bucher