Among the first to sign-up for both the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race at Jervis Bay in Australia on April 26 and the XTERRA Malaysia Championship the following weekend in Putrajaya was a father-son duo from Selangor, Malaysia.
Damian Baynes, 43, is originally from Adelaide, Australia but moved to Malaysia with his wife I-Nah nine years ago to provide an opportunity for their children to grow-up in their mother’s homeland.
As teachers at the Australian International School Malaysia where their children attend school, Damian and I-Nah are able to spend an enviable amount of time with their kids – time often spent swimming, biking and running.
“I am truly blessed,” explained Baynes. “We have a swimming pool on campus so I swim train with my children every day, they run train with me a couple of times a week and Henry trains on the bike with me on the weekends. My wife thinks we are a bit strange when we’re doing our core and strength workouts in the lounge room though. She's probably right, but I love being able to spend so much time with my kids.”
One of the rewards for all the hard work is the racing itself. When the inaugural Asia-Pacific Champs race was announced in the days prior to XTERRA Worlds in October, Damian and Henry were in Maui to compete right alongside the most talented, international field in all of off-road triathlon.
“Going to Maui with Henry was a fantastic experience. To travel and race alongside my son is something I truly cherish,” said Baynes. “Maui was also about exposing him to racing on the international scene, for him to see and experience an elite level event.”
It was an experience that is sure to pay big dividends come April and May. Damian placed 26-of-74 in the highly competitive 40-44 division while Henry finished 14th as one of the youngest racers in the field in the 15-19 age group.
“We were both happy with our races, we weren't racing for the pointy end of the field just for the experience, though we both want to pick up our training and have a bit more of a crack at the races in Malaysia and NSW now,” said Baynes.
Damian was first exposed to off-road triathlon at XTERRA’s initial race in Malaysia a few years back, while Henry got his first taste of the dirt and adventure of XTERRA in Putrajaya last April.
“One of the things that I really enjoy about XTERRA is that it’s so different. Mountain biking and trail running are heaps more fun than riding and running on the road. Also, one of the amazing things about XTERRA is how accessible the pros are. They have been so friendly and accommodating to me and my kids asking questions and hanging around.”
At XTERRA Malaysia last season Ben Allen and Jacqui Slack along with other visiting pros took time from their schedule to host a clinic for the kids at Baynes school.
“They are great ambassadors for XTERRA and have really inspired my kids with their training and racing. It’s really neat to have elite level athletes like this that are willing to give back to the next generation. At the race my children collected autographs from all the pros but they missed Dan Hugo, so when we went to Maui Tamika made me take the race t-shirt she had them sign and when I explained the story to Dan, he was very happy to sign it for her.”
Wanting to do as many XTERRA races as they can get to, Baynes said the expanding Asia-Pacific Tour has added “fuel to the fire” and the Asia-Pacific Championship is being held at the perfect time.
“It falls on our school holidays, and there are also very cheap flights between Malaysia and Sydney. We are traveling with a friend here in Malaysia, and expect more racers in the region to jump at the opportunity.”
Upon their return from New South Wales, the whole family is set to get in the mix at XTERRA Malaysia.
“My twin girls (Tamika won the female trail run in 2013) are at me to get mountain bikes because they want to get involved too,” said Baynes. “The races in Malaysia look really exciting, there is something for everyone. Henry and I will race the championship event, my daughters Tamika and Kiana will race the kids under 15 races and all four of us will most likely race the 11km trail run the next morning. Oscar, my youngest, will probably race the little kids’ race as well. For a family that races and trains together XTERRA Malaysia has something for all of us.”
You know what they say, 'a family that plays together, stays together."