The Evolving Course at Kapalua
Since 2011 the XTERRA Worlds course has been traversing Maui Land & Pineapple Company’s private 22,000-acre oasis.
It all starts with a 1.5-kilometer rough water swim at D.T. Fleming Beach fronting the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Once on the bike riders navigate from the Ritz to a ridge line - down to a ravine - and back up again, like a tropical roller-coaster ride through pineapple fields and forests.
The bike is one big 18.8-mile loop with 3,100-feet of climbing that goes up-and-down the lower slopes of the West Maui Mountains more than a dozen times. New this year course designers have added more passing opportunities on the first few climbs and an improved downhill featuring more twists and turns to replace straight-away downhills.
“The new stuff is still a work in progress but will add more character to the longest downhill section,” said race director “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas. “That will complement the tight, twisting, sharp corners that are already in place. Still, the signature spot is at the five-mile mark when you pop out on a narrow ridge trail with hundred foot drop offs on either side. Don’t panic – the top is at least 15’ wide and the views of the surrounding forest and hills are simply spectacular. If I didn’t fall off – neither will you. In fact, if you come early and preview the course, bring your camera with you. The scenery is something that not many people get a chance to see.”
Once on the run competitors will be faced with a whole lot of climbing while they weave along dirt trails, through oleander forests, and into 60-foot high ironwood evergreens to an unexpected mountain lake at the 700-foot level.
“It descends like a slalom course through high green Bermuda grasses and opens up in spots to expose fantastic views of the Pacific,” said Nicholas. “Obstacles are everywhere, including a technical, steep downhill into a gully where racers will have to jump over and duck under fallen trees, navigate a rocky dry creek, head through thick elephant grass, into a cook pine nursery, up a short rope-assisted scramble and along a narrow single track trail with switchbacks that drop all the way down to the beach. The final test of skill and endurance is a calf-busting 250-meter white sand beach run.”