Tales from the (Maui) Trails
We checked in with some of this year’s XTERRA World Championship age group winners to see how their day's unfolded...
“There were three moments I remember most,” said Dennis Brinson from Carson City, Nevada, who won the 55-59 division for the second time.
“First, the water was pretty angry and just as I was turning left at the first buoy... we were all over each other…and out of the chaos one swimmer said to me "sorry" for colliding with me. I don't know why but it encouraged me in the middle of the skirmish.
The second event was when I caught up with my friend "Karl with a K" on the bike…he really took care of me for about three miles. Basically he was directing traffic…calling out to the riders ahead of us "get to the right"…which to my surprise, they did, which allowed us to scoot on by.
The last was an act of "considering others more important than yourself" and I was on the receiving end. So I was moving up on a fellow when he slipped out on the red dirt causing him to come off his bike. He was so concerned that he might have impacted me that he pushed me up the hill to make sure I didn't come off mine.
I don't know but it's stuff like that that I remember most and talk about to others. Yes, winning is wonderful but there are greater heights to reach and these three guys opened my eyes to it.”
For Kelli Montgomery of Wallingford, Connecticut – winning Worlds (40-44) was the realization of a dream and result of a lot of hard work. She explains…
“My goal all season was to win the title at the end of the season. I had a bad car accident on June 8th of 2013. A girl was texting and hit our car at 60 mph the day before Eagleman 70.3. I broke some ribs, injured my jaw and neck and also got a head injury (vestibular concussion), which caused vertigo and vision issues and suffered from PTSD. I worked really hard to recover from all of that over the past year and half. So to come back from all of that to win the title is incredible to me! I know a lot of hard work went into the win along with perseverance and determination!”
Boulder buddies Martha Buttner and Johnny Davis - business partner at Boulder-International, the exclusive US Importer for Squirt chain lube and bicycle products from South Africa - led a host of Coloradoans to World Titles.
Dennis Farrell of Littleton won the 50-54 division, Davis of Boulder won the 60-64 division, David Rakita of Durango won the 65-69 division, Buttner of Boulder won the 55-59 division, and Cindi Toepel of Littleton won the 60-64 divison.
For Davis, his first experience at XTERRA Worlds in Maui was a memorable one…
“Mixing outdoor junkies with a classy joint like The Ritz-Carlton, who would have thought! The first day we rode to the upper part of the practice course where it tops out on the ridge line I turned to my partner and asked, "Is this where God lives?”
It’s a question Davis had pondered more than once of late…as he explains it;
“I spent most of 2013 in and out of hospitals fighting for my life Exactly one year ago I lived in a halfway house, curing from illness, pondering my options for my returning health. I was always healthiest when competing...could I possibly ever return to it? I chose my bike to reclaim what I almost lost....then I chose XTERRA to play out my resurrection. On Oct 26 I stamped my bill of health...."In Spades!"
Canmore, Canada can claim a couple of XTERRA champions for their own this year as Brittany Webster captured the 25-29 division and Nadine Mueller won the 35-39 division.
Although success in sports is nothing new for Webster – a cross-country skier who just recently competed in the Olympic Winter Games – her prowess in the dirt caught her by surprise.
“For me, this was totally unexpected. It is only my second XTERRA ever. The first one I did was in Canmore and it was the qualifier. I had no idea I would be able to win this, so I am very, very happy. I would like to take it a bit more seriously next year!”
Not only was Brittany the winner of her division but she was also the fastest amateur female out of 172 age group women.
“That swim was Amazing!” exclaimed Webster. “I am not a swimmer, but I can surf… kind of:) So I just thought of that while I was swimming away. It kept me relaxed and smiling instead of hyperventilating. The bike was a bit different. I bailed on the last corner of the single track really hard. It wasn’t until I began to run that I realized I’d hurt my knee pretty good. I had to walk up many of the climbs before it subsided and I was able to fully weight bear on it. Nothing a massage and hair cut at Paul Mitchell’s afterwards didn’t fix though! The beer didn’t hurt either!”
Thomas Kerner, the 20-24 champ from Germany, had perhaps the most dramatic race to a world title of anyone in the field…and he didn’t even know it.
“On the last trail downhill another competitor ran onto me, and I felt his breath on my neck,” said Kerner. “I didn´t know who he was, or what AG he was in. I just wanted him to not overtake me so we both kept up the pace on the last beach section. And uphill to the finish line we both fought really hard and we even finished in the same time. I was a little bit in front and as I turned around, I saw he was in my age group. Three-minutes later I knew it was the fight for the World title.”
The other racer was Xavier Jove, who finished in second place by just 100ths of a second.
Martin Flinta from Sweden – who won the 2013 Outrigger Double award for having the fastest combined Ironman and XTERRA World Championship times – knows all about precious seconds. Last year he lost out on the title by 12 seconds. This year, determined to take the top spot, he chased down Rodrigo Altafina on the run and took the 40-44 title by 30 seconds.
The 2014 race meant title No. 9 for 71-year-old Peter Wood and we figure his secret to success is his pre-race ritual “a beer the night before.”
“I started the bike with one competitor in front....at our age, we are all friends and he yelled encouragement as I passed him on the first climb,” said Wood, a retired Kiwi living in La Jolla. “My greatest pleasure on that climb is the fragrent smell of the lilikoi fruit...I was tempted to stop and down at least one! On the run, my favorite part is when you are coming around the lake and there are a million golf balls on the right of the trail....I call it "the golf ball graveyard". It is an honor to finish first in my age group and for that I thank XTERRA, the sponsors, the volunteers, and my wife, Carol, who has put up with me racing all these years.”