The 11th running of the XTERRA Brazil Championship race takes place Sunday in the same place where the sport got started in South America back in 2005, the island paradise of Ilhabela.
Last year’s champion’s Felipe Moletta and Sabrina Gobbo have returned to defend their crowns, and thousands of amateurs, spectators and locals are ready to literally jump off the pier in anticipation.
“The pier is lined three deep for a raucous mid-swim moment of happiness before launching like a doomed sailor off the plank into a near spring low tide,” is how past champ Dan Hugo described the mid-swim run and jump off a 10-foot pier edge. “Quite a fun swim feature, certainly more enjoyable than the wavy water swallow breathing I was into for the rest of it.”
Former age group XTERRA World Champion turned pro Albert Soley from Spain is in Ilhabela to give Moletta a run for his money, and other contenders include Rodrigo Altafini and Frederico Zacharias. Moletta, who has won the race in two of the last three years and also won the first two races in this year’s XTERRA Brazil Tour, is said to be the clear-cut favorite.
Laura Mira Dias, ranked second in the Brazilian tour, is said to be the toughest human competition for Gobbo in the women’s race but Mother Nature is the most formidable of all foes at this one.
Mike Vine was quoted as saying “It was the hardest of any, ever, and we had decent conditions w/ cooler temps and a dry course that means it easily could’ve been a lot worse. The finishing times tell the story... many took 5, 6, and even 7 hours,” he said.
"Absolutely the toughest XTERRA race I have ever done,” agreed Candy Angle. “I have done my fair share of XTERRA races around the world and cannot imagine any tougher than this one.”
Even two-time winner Conrad Stoltz described it as "more of an adventure than a race."
As for XTERRA Brazil Race Director Bernardo Fonseca, he says Ilhabela is “the only place in the world to host over 3,000 people having fun as a family in nature in the right place and with the right people.”
“The energy here is so great. I’ve never been to another country’s race that has such a festive atmosphere.” Vanlandingham noted after her victory in 2013.
ALL-TIME XTERRA BRAZIL CHAMPIONSHIP ELITE WINNERS
|2014||Felipe Moletta||Sabrina Gobbo|
|2013||Conrad Stoltz||Shonny Vanlandingham|
|2012||Felipe Moletta||Shonny Vanlandingham|
|2011||Ben Allen||Carina Wasle|
|2010||Dan Hugo||Shonny Vanlandingham|
|2009||Rom Akerson||Maria Omar|
|2008||Alexandre Manzan||Carla Prada|
|2007||Mike Vine||Candy Angle|
|2006||Nico Lebrun||Candy Angle|
|2005||Conrad Stoltz||Jamie Whitmore|