Rotorua, New Zealand – Ben Allen and Renata Bucher won the 11th annual Paymark XTERRA New Zealand Championship at Blue Lake, Rotorua on Saturday.
For Allen, it's his fourth win in five XTERRA World Tour championship races and remarkably, he won the same four - Philippines, Saipan, Guam, and New Zealand to start the 2012 season.
For Bucher, it's her second straight win coming off a victory at XTERRA Australia last weekend. It's also win No. 31 in her career, spanning 14th countries, the U.S. Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan).
The men's race was a close fought battle with just 19 seconds separating first and second, the tightest margin on the XTERRA World Tour this year and one that came as a surprise to Allen who, after a commanding 1km swim and solid 26km Mountain Bike, led Marais onto the 11km run with a 2 minute buffer.
“I knew he was closing, but I thought I still had at least 30seconds. I just ran as hard as I could," said Allen. "Anything can happen in XTERRA racing, that’s what I love about it, I never think I have won until I get across that line.”
Marais was left to question what could have been after having mechanical problems with his bike, at one point having to dismount to fix the problem. Rotorua local and up and coming athlete, Olly Shaw, was pleased his first elite podium happened in his home town.
“As well as winning my age-group at the XTERRA World Champs last year, this is a real career highlight for me,” said Shaw.
Shaw will spend the next 12 months traveling and racing in Europe and potentially return to the XTERRA World Championships in Maui again this year.
Things don’t get any quieter for Allen with a half-marathon in Tauranga on Sunday, followed by a full Iron-distance Triathlon in Thailand the following weekend, after that he will be back on the XTERRA World Tour at XTERRA Malaysia on April 28.
“Out of the 17 XTERRA World Series races this year, I am racing 15 of them but Rotorua is my favorite, it is a fantastic event and such stunning scenery,” said Allen.
A sentiment echoed by first-time XTERRA Rotorua entrant and women’s winner, Renata Bucher (Switzerland).
“I found it hard to rest this week before the race, the trails are so stunning here, I just wanted to keep riding and riding.”
Bucher topped the podium ahead of last year’s winner, Jacqui Slack (Australia) and New Zealand Olympic Mountain Bike representative, Karen Hanlen (Whakatane).
After the race Bucher posted this image of her bike onto her facebook page, with the caption "With #13 racing on the 13th of April, yes, it was my lucky day. Super happy about winning Xterra NZ. What an awesome course, great organisation, perfect weather:) Would like to stay much longer for more riding and trail running here, it is an offroad paradise. Thanks Rotorua."
The Paymark XTERRA Rotorua Festival annually hosts more than 2,000 athletes in what is considered the world's largest single day XTERRA off-road triathlon festival with competitors choosing from a 5.5km, 11km or 21km run/walk, a 26km mountain bike as well as an individual or team off-road triathlon. All events taking place at the stunning Blue Lake, Rotorua.
XTERRA New Zealand Championship
1km Swim, 26km Mountain Bike, 11km Run
1. Ben Allen, Australia - 2:03:25
2. Stuart Maris, South Africa - 2:03:44
3. Olly Shaw, New Zealand - 2:06:14
4. Sam Shaw, New Zealand - 2:08:23
5. Joshua Kenyon, New Zealand - 2:09:04
1. Renata Bucher, Switzerland - 2:15:27
2. Jacqui Slack, Great Britain - 2:20:39
3. Karen Hanlen, New Zealand - 2:23:29
4. Carina Wasle, Austria - 2:24:20
5. Sarah Backler, New Zealand - 2:24:54
Podium Photo credit: John Cowpland
For high resolution images, interviews or more info contact:
Nicola Carter (nee de Lautor) Good Sport PR at 021 908886
Full results and results from the other events can be found at www.xterra.co.nz
Next on the XTERRA World Tour: The XTERRA New Zealand Championship was the seventh World Tour event to qualify amateur athletes into the XTERRA World Championship to be held in Kapalua, Maui (Hawaii) on October 27, 2013. Next up, the XTERRA Malaysia Championship in Putrajaya on April 28.
Date - Race, Location
Feb 24 - XTERRA South Africa Championship, Western Cape
Mar 2 - XTERRA Philippines Championship, Cebu
Mar 9 - XTERRA Motatapu, South Island, New Zealand
Mar 9 - XTERRA Saipan Championship, Northern Marianas
Mar 23 - XTERRA Guam Championship, Piti
Apr 7 - XTERRA Great Ocean Road, Anglesea, Victoria, Australia
Apr 13 - XTERRA New Zealand Championship, Rotorua
Apr 28 - XTERRA Malaysia Championhip, Putrajaya
June 2 - XTERRA Spain Championship, Cieza, Murcia
June 15 - XTERRA Greece, Lake Plastira
June 22 - XTERRA Brazil Championship, Ilhabela, SP
June 29 - XTERRA Switzerland Championship, Vallee de Joux
July 7 - XTERRA France Championship, Xonrupt, Gerardmer
July 20 - XTERRA Abruzzo, Lago di Scanno, Italy
Aug 3 - XTERRA Mexico Championship, Tapalpa, Jalisco
Aug 10 - XTERRA Czech Championship, Prachatice
Aug 17 - XTERRA Germany Championship, Zittau
Aug 24 - XTERRA Japan Championship, Marunuma
Sept 8 - XTERRA England, Cranleigh, Surrey
Sept 21 - XTERRA USA Championship, Ogden/Snowbasin, UT
Oct 27 - XTERRA World Championship, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii