Conrad "the Caveman" Stoltz laid the foundation for all great XTERRA racers, not just South Africans, by winning more races (49) and world titles (7) than anyone in the sport over the past 14 years.
Dan Hugo followed, and has been making XTERRA his own this year - winning five of the seven World Tour races he's entered including the high-profile Asia-Pacific Championship last month.
Respectfully in their shadows, another South African is on the rise.
At just 25-years-old and only three years into the sport Bradley Weiss has established himself as one of the major players in XTERRA and while he hasn’t pulled off the big win yet, it seems only a matter of when, not if.
“Bradley has the right personality to solve this game, I'm convinced of that,” said his fellow countryman and training partner Dan Hugo, who was the only one to finish in front of Weiss at XTERRA championship races in the Philippines, Guam, and Malaysia this year. “He is patient, ambitious, attentive and has a sense of humour. Having started triathlon as an adult, I know he will come into his own over the next two seasons. Brad's greatest asset is his run, and once strong enough to run at his true potential off of a smashing ride, well then I'd best be cheering from the sidelines with a real job. As for now, he has been the greatest of training and travel buddies and has elevated my level. I owe him plenty credit for recent success.”
Weiss is quick to throw that compliment right back at Hugo, saying “if it weren't for Dan I wouldn't be half the athlete I am today. I can contribute most of my success this year to our friendship. Getting second to Dan feels like a victory to me. But I do plan on giving the old man a run for his money sometime soon.”
And “soon” could just be tomorrow. With the unpredictable nature of the sport where anything can happen – flats, crashes, and simple bad days – Weiss’ results say he’s more than just a long-shot.
Just two years ago here at Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama he won the ITU u23 Cross Tri World Title, and his 4th place finish last year established his place among the game’s best. Since then he’s collected a series of impressive showings – 3rd at Richmond last year, 4th at XTERRA South Africa this year, eight top 4 finishes on the Asia-Pacific Tour, and a runner-up showing to only Josiah Middaugh at the Pro Series opener in Vegas last month.
Indeed it seems as if the next big thing from South Africa has already arrived.
One the eve of the XTERRA Southeast Championship we caught up with Weiss to learn a little more about the man...
XTERRA: What sports did you grow up participating in?
Brad Weiss: As a kid in SA I played the traditional team sports being Rugby in winter and cricket during the summer months.
XT: When did you start triathlon?
BW: I competed in my first race at the tender age of 19. My first XTERRA was the XTERRA Lite at Grabouw in SA 2008.
XT: How were you first exposed to the sport?
BW: Dan (Hugo) was Head boy of Paul Ross Gymnasium, the high school which we both attended. I was a junior in his graduation year. I followed him pretty closely and read his blog posts etc. I would say this was my introduction to the sport. I met Dan during my school days but we truly only became friends a couple of years ago.
XT: Where did you grow up?
BW: I grew up in Somerset West but did all my schooling in Stellenbosch which is only a 20min drive away.
XT: Who are your sponsors?
BW: Currently my main sponsors are Team Hydrotec Faktory along with Corse components (same owners - joint sponsorship), Puma Running, Orca swimwear and Isostar Nutrition.
XT: Favorite XTERRA race?
BW: My favourite (correct spelling ;-) haha ) XTERRA is definitely the SA Championships.
XT: If you could pull the best parts of every XTERRA worldwide into one race what would it look like (atmosphere, weather, swim, bike, run, post-race, etc…)?
BW: Hmmm tricky... Atmosphere I would draw from XTERRA SA Champs. Cool weather. One lap swim with calm waters. Lots of elevation gain on the bike with technical descents and a fast flat run. Post-race beer and braai (South African BBQ) is always the perfect ending to a day of hard racing!
XT: Just two years ago here in Alabama you won the ITU u23 Cross Tri World Title in front of a strong RSA contingent, and last year 4th place kind of showed you belonged … you must have good memories from this place?
BW: Riding the course again today brought back such fond memories. Oak Mountain State Park will always hold a special place in my heart. As you said it is where I won my first world championships albeit U23. I am truly excited to be back this year and in great from I believe this course suits me very well.
XT: Tell us more about this course...
BW: Calm waters for the swim, good elevation gain on the bike and heaps of technical single track riding followed by a flat, fast run. Pre-riding yesterday reminded me of how much I enjoy racing here. Trails are amazing! I love everything about this course and being my 3rd year racing in Alabama I feel I have great knowledge of it.
XT: What do you like about this culture?
BW: As the saying goes... nothing like Southern hospitality. The people here are so warm and welcoming and always willing to help whatever the situation may be.
XT: Are you as fast as you’ve ever been right now?
BW: I am certainly in the form of my life. I have been blessed with very few injuries throughout my career and this has aided in constant gains in all fields of the sport. I still have lots to improve on but I am very happy with my current form and hope to keep building towards XTERRA World Championships in Maui. I plan to make a few waves with my debut in October later this year.
XT: What has the experience been like this year travelling all over compared to last year?
BW: We have raced a lot more this year, our last trip being 6 races in 8weeks. This is very new to me but I really enjoyed the challenge. I have learnt a lot about myself as an athlete and look forward to continuing the learning process. I am still very new to this game and still believe I can get so much better.
XT: Favorite non-racing memories or moments from this year?
BW: Watching The Jezebels live at the Sydney Opera House after racing the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships.
XT: What has been your defining racing moment this year?
BW: Although it may not have sounded like the greatest race of 2014, XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships in Australia was a big turning point for me. I raced toe to toe with Courtney Atkinson and Braden Curry who got 5th in Maui in 2013. Although Ben Allen wasn't having his greatest day I was able to beat him which was huge for me. This race has given me a lot of confidence going forward.
XT: What’s your goal for Saturday?
BW: I will do everything possible to try and win. My goals are shifting, I am craving my first victory!
XT: What are your season goals?
BW: My main goal for 2014 is to have a good showing in Maui. I will do all I can over the coming months to be in the best shape possible come Sunday October 26th.
XT: What are your career goals?
BW: I plan to follow in Conrad's large footprints and become a multiple world champion.
XT: Explain to those who don’t know the difference between a road triathlon and XTERRA…
BW: The biggest difference is that we have a whole lot more fun between the start and finish line!!!