Ilhabela, Sao Paulo – Conrad Stoltz and Shonny Vanlandingham won the ninth annual XTERRA Brazil Championship in Ilhabela this morning. It's the second Brazilian crown for Stoltz, who won the inaugural event in 2005, and his unprecedented 47th XTERRA championship win. For Vanlandingham it's her third XTERRA Brazil title in four years, with all three wins coming at different venues - Angra dos Reis, the Amazon, now Ilhabela.
XTERRA webmaster Aab Arnold was in Brazil to take in all the action and brings us this report.
As if on cue for the 8am XTERRA Brazil race start a passing front from the southwest brought rain and blustery white-cap conditions to the previously tranquil channel between mainland Brazil and this small island paradise of Ilhabela three hours driving distance and a short ferry from Sao Paulo.
But as fast as the rain blew in it was gone. Perhaps it was a pre-race blessing from the race gods or Mother Nature reminding everyone again of her unpredictability.
There's a saying in XTERRA that Mother Nature is your toughest competitor. XTERRA Brazil in Ilhabela may in fact be the reason for the turning of that phrase. Labeled one of the toughest courses on the XTERRA circuit Conrad Stoltz aptly described this race as "more of an adventure than race".
Part of that adventure included swimmers negotiating a 30 meter sand bar and thigh-deep water exposed by the lower morning tide. And if the sand bar didn't slow you down the 10ft pier jump surely did. But this is XTERRA and all part of the fun.
Former XTERRA Brazil champion Dan Hugo was first to complete the swim with Stoltz roughly twenty-five seconds behind. The pair of South Africans set off from T1 on the cobblestone streets determined to test their will and equipment on a bike course which features over 1000m in total climbing, hike-a-bike sections too steep to ride and bombing downhill descents.
Brazilian star and defending champ Felipe Moletta who garnered most of the local attention today lurked in the chase pack biding his time.
Determination quickly turned to frustration for Hugo as a screw holding the cleat to his shoe began to loosen. Hugo described his situation in his post-race blog post.
By the time it was real loose, perhaps 8km in, I tried to way up my options. Best case was begging an Allen key set, which I did not have, for Stoltz – who likely would. When he caught up at the foot of a little hike a bike I asked, and a sympathetic Afrikaans replied “ek het alles behalwe”. Seems he too was cautious for the 1000m elevation gain of a ride.
Soon after I could not power equally, and then could not un-clip at a hike a bike portage. Having toppled over like an empty sack of potatoes I did a three sixty with my shoes. The ship is sinking. At the top of that portage I couldn’t engage the cleat again, after inspection appreciated the dilemma of a one missing screw.
Conrad's skill on a mountain bike speaks for itself. After passing Hugo he laid claim to the remaining 17km of the bike with surgical precision.
Moletta quickly closed the margin on Hugo. Running 30 seconds back out of T2.
Conrad however at this point was out-of-sight and out-of-reach on the run. A run equally as brutal with equivalent climbing as the bike prompting a few runners to don spikes similar to those found on track and field flats.
Moletta did not waiver and his strong running reputation held true. He closed the 30 second gap and eventually passed Hugo for a runner-up finish.
At the end it was the Caveman racing alone in a dominating performance showing no ill effects from a calf injury that forced him to DNF in Alabama and miss Richmond two weeks ago.
Shonny Vanlandingham is no stranger to Brazil. Having traveled in her younger years to the country to play basketball and compete with Team USA. Racing XTERRA has more recently earned her a bit of a legendary status among the locals.
This marks her third XTERRA Brazil title in four years. Missing the 2011 event due to a severe knee injury.
"The energy here is so great. I've never been to another country's race that has such a festive atmosphere." Vanlandingham noted after her victory today.
Her mountain biking background was on display this morning. Perfectly suited for the technical riding on offer.
Third out of the water she quickly passed the two Brazilian's Luzia Bello and Sabrina Gobbo on the road section. Her technical prowess then took over in dominating fashion. Her margin of victory tells the story. Nearly 20 minutes between her and eventual runner-up Gobbo.
Shonny was all smiles start to finish on a course that she says lived up the it's reputation as "hardest ever". That's the way she likes it.
XTERRA pro and world tour veteran Daz Parker turned in a solid performance today as well. On a bike with a locked Lefty suspension nonetheless. She rode her way to third place and another world tour podium matching her result at XTERRA Malaysia in April.
Of note, we caught up with Daz prior to the event and listened as she described a bit of a mis-adventure during her pre-ride training. Watch it here.
XTERRA Brazil Race Director Bernardo Fonseca described this event as the only place in the world to host over 3000 people having fun as a family in nature in the right place and with the right people. From the smiling faces on display today from young and old … professional and amateur I can only agree that there is some truth to those words.
Obrigado XTERRA Brazil.
1 Conrad Stoltz, RSA 2:19:28
2 Felilpe Moletta, BRA 2:27:04
3 Dan Hugo, RSA 2:28:56
4 Rodrigo Altafini, BRA 2:32:21
5 Bruno Silveira, BRA 2:37:14
1 Shonny Vanlandingham, USA 2:51:28
2 Sabrina Gobbo, BRA 3:10:50
3 Daz Parker, GBR 3:12:58
4 Luzia Bello, BRA 3:14:30
Past and Present Champions
2013 - Conrad Stoltz and Shonny Vanlandingham
2012 - Felipe Moletta and Shonny Vanlandingham
2011 - Ben Allen and Carina Wasle
2010 - Dan Hugo and Shonny Vanlandingham
2009 - Rom Akerson and Maria Omar
2008 - Alexandre Manzan and Carla Prada
2007 - Mike Vine and Candy Angle
2006 - Nico Lebrun and Candy Angle
2005 - Conrad Stoltz and Jamie Whitmore
Next on the XTERRA World Tour: XTERRA Brazil was the 12th World Tour event to qualify amateur athletes into the XTERRA World Championship to be held in Kapalua, Maui on October 27, 2013. Next up, XTERRA Switzerland in Vallee de Joux next weekend.
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 Freedom Fest, Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii
July 7 - XTERRA France Championship, Xonrupt, Gerardmer
July 14 - XTERRA Victoria, Canada
July 20 - XTERRA Abruzzo, Lago di Scanno, Italy
Aug 3 - XTERRA Mexico Championship, Tapalpa, Jalisco
Aug 4 - XTERRA Canmore, Canada
Aug 10 - XTERRA Czech Championship, Prachatice
Aug 17 - XTERRA Germany Championship, Zittau
Aug 24 - XTERRA Japan Championship, Marunuma
Aug 31 - XTERRA Ecuador,
Aug 31 - XTERRA MountainMan - Kualoa Ranch, HI
Sept 8 - XTERRA England, Cranleigh, Surrey
Sept 21 - XTERRA USA Championship, Ogden/Snowbasin, UT
Oct 27 - XTERRA World Championship, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii