XTERRA Circa '97, Speedos & Legends

May. 21, 2015

As XTERRA inches towards its 20th running of the XTERRA World Championship triathlon on Maui we’ll be looking back at all the people, places and races who built the foundation for the sport.

The XTERRA TV Crew is digitizing all the past Maui shows since the inaugural 1996 broadcast that brought off-road triathlon to a worldwide audience.

While the first-ever XTERRA show has had a web presence for years, the 1997 show has not. This week we offer it up for the first time, and take a nostalgic look back at the ESPN feature presentation with broadcasters Dan Cooke, Mark Allen, Peter Graves, and Craig Hummer.  (https://vimeo.com/channels/xterra20)

In 1997 XTERRA was still brand new. The Maui race was just the 5th XTERRA in history, and only the second World Championship on Maui.

Earlier in ’97 XTERRA rolled out its first three races in the continental U.S. at Ruston, Louisiana, Kirkwood in Northern California, and Big Bear in Southern California. Lorraine Barrows had won all three of those races and came into Maui as one of the women’s favorites. For the men there was a different winner at each stop – John Koenig in Ruston, Michael Tobin in Kirkwood, and Mike Smith in Big Bear.

The sport may have been new but it had some serious star power. Consider this, the top five men in 1997 were Mike Pigg, Ned Overend, Jimmy Riccitello, Michael Tobin, and Scott Tinley.

The 1997 show is really fun to watch. We noticed way too many speedos; a classy, tented bike-to-run transition with chairs; Ned Overend bombing down the plunge, and a course that really started to build its reputation as a beast by taking out racer after racer due to flats, crashes, and pure exhaustion.

Stay tuned to the XTERRA 20 Years online video channel for the next few months to see a consistent roll out of XTERRA shows from the past two decades in Maui.