2014 XTERRA World Champion Flora Duffy will lead an all-star cast of elites into the shadows of the world’s most perfectly shaped volcano for the 5th annual XTERRA Philippines Championship race in Albay on February 8.
Other big names headed to the island of Luzon include three of the top ten elite men from Maui - Aussie Ben Allen (a two-time XTERRA Philippines Champ), Mexico’s Mauricio Mendez and South Africa’s Bradley Weiss, along with two-time women’s Philippines Champ Renata Bucher from Switzerland and XTERRA Malaysia champ Jacqui Slack from the UK. The tentative elite list also includes home grown hero Joe Miller, Charlie Epperson from Singapore, Fabrizio Bartoli and Simone Calamai from Italy, Dimity-Lee Duke and Brodie Gardner from Australia, Mieko Carey from Guam, and Daz Parker from England.
The real star of the race, however, is sure to be the Mayon Volcano. It’s one of the most active volcanoes on earth and certainly one of the most breathtaking to look at as well.
“I understand we’ll be climbing up the lower slopes of that volcano during the race so we’ll have a nice up-close look at it,” said Allen, who added that the Philippines is one of his favorite places in the world, “so to say I’m excited would be an understatement.”
The early race date adds intrigue to see just how fit everyone comes into it…
“I’ve been enjoying my time in South Africa, and slowly feeling like I am getting back into shape,” said Duffy, who has a busy year ahead of her defending XTERRA titles while chasing ITU points so she can race in her third Olympic games in Rio. “Quite a full race schedule so we'll see how it goes! Luckily my ITU season ends early September which gives me enough time to properly prepare for Maui.”
For Ben and Jacqui the season never really ended, as the duo did a bunch of racing in their “off-season.”
“I’ll rest when I’m dead,” exclaimed Allen, while Slack elaborated a bit to say “We did a lot of racing during November and December but it was so much fun. It’s what we love doing. We were able to compete in the races but also had the opportunity to relax and spend much more time than normal enjoying the culture of the places we went to. To be honest, I don’t have my race head on just yet, but I can’t bear missing out on all the fun. It’s no secret that Ben and I love the Philippines so I suppose you could say it’s a social catch up as well as a race.”
For the entire field just the chance to be part of a Sunrise Events production is reason-enough to race.
"It will be my 3rd visit to the Philippines and I have become great friends with Fred Uytengsu, Princess Galura, and the Sunrise Events crew,” said Weiss. “I am dead excited for the trip and the new location in Albay makes it an even more attractive race to start my international racing calendar.”
The thoughts are echoed by all who have had the pleasure to race XTERRA in the Philippines.
“Fred, Princess, and everyone involved at Sunrise events are some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet,” said Allen. “Fred is an athlete himself and that allows him to understand the needs for all athletes. His passion, dedication and love for sport is infectious. So infectious, it brings the best out of me and we all come together after the race and cherish in the amazing memories we have had. Its one big family...”
“Fred is one of the kindest, most generous people I have ever met,” added Slack. “What he has done for triathlon in the Philippines is mind blowing. Sunrise events go above and beyond to give competitors the whole package and that’s what destination racing should be about.”
Learn more at xterraphil.com.