The 2014 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour takes another trip across the international dateline for the season-finale at XTERRA Malaysia in Putrajaya on Saturday.
It’ll be hot and humid, perfect for another sizzling showdown between Dan Hugo and Ben Allen in the men’s race. Those two (and a cast of others that include Bradley Weiss from South Africa, Roger Serrano from Spain, Joe Miller from the Philippines, Olly Shaw of New Zealand, Michal Bucek of Slovakia, and Sam Gardner from the UK, and Shahrom Abdullah from Malaysia) have been slugging it out in races across the region since early March.
This will be the eighth and final race in the series that featured exotic majors in New Zealand, Philippines, Guam, Australia, Saipan, and Malaysia. Last week Hugo captured the big one – the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in New South Wales, Australia – but conditions will be radically different in Putrajaya (which sits just outside the capital city of Kuala Lumpur). Where last Saturday’s race was in cool, overcast, tree-covered conditions on the coast at Callala Beach in Jervis Bay; Putrajaya’s route is nothing short of steamy, wide-open, and unforgiving.
While Allen seems to excel in sticky situations (he caught Hugo on the run to win XTERRA Saipan in hot conditions on April 5) one has to hold-out a wild-card spot for Weiss. The 25-year-old has raced in the shadows of Hugo and Allen these past two months but put up remarkable and consistent efforts at every stop (4th at South Africa, 2nd at Philippines, 2nd at Guam, 3rd at Saipan, 2nd at the West Championship, and 4th against a stacked-house at the APAC Champs last weekend). He leaves Hugo and Allen no room for error.
In the women’s race a trio of Brits – Jacqui Slack, Daz Parker and Louise Fox will challenge Carina Wasle from Austria and Renata Bucher from Switzerland.
“This will be our 7th week of racing & the first half of our season done and dusted,” posted Slack to her Facebook page in anticipation of Saturday’s race. “This can only mean one thing, time for a rest, catch up with friends and family back home. Can’t wait to see you all next week and share our adventures before it starts again.”
XTERRA managing director “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas is on the ground in Malaysia to bring us this pre-race report…
Malaysia is not what you think. I am completely blown away by how modern yet traditional, how happy the people are, how sound the economy is. I keep waiting to see the poor sections but have not seen anything even close yet. Prices are moderate to inexpensive, hotels are quite nice and the local food is a combination of Malay, Thai and Chinese. Read into that "spicy". Great Japanese restaurants are beginning to sprout up here and there and an occasional Italian or Lebanese restaurant as well. As for those of you who come and get homesick - the ever present McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Starbucks can be found.
The 2nd edition of XTERRA Malaysia in Putrajaya comes tomorrow. Putrajaya is a brand new city made to be the capital of the nation. It is stunning in architecture, and infrastructure. Think what Washington, DC must have been like when it was first laid out. The cement is not dry as the whole place only started in the 1990's. Gardens and parks are everywhere as by charter, 38% must stay open and public.
Our race takes place next to the Maritime Center on the huge and very clean Lake that is the feature of the center of the city. A two lap swim; no wetsuits required. Exit the water on a boat ramp and you are immediately in transition. Things have had to move from last year as construction has taken some of that space.
Last night a huge monsoon thunder storm lit up the city and the result was mud, mud, and more mud. More rain is forecast for race day but it is very unpredictable here so we will have to wait. The weekend is full with short and full distance XTERRA' and a duathlon on Saturday and running races on Sunday. Total entry as of today is approaching 1,000 athletes all up.