XTERRA Like It's 1999... For Real
The XTERRA TV crew rolled out another episode of must-see TV this week with the posting of the 1999 XTERRA World Championship show (https://vimeo.com/channels/xterra20).
For fans of XTERRA or triathlon in general the show brings back some great memories. It's fun just to look at the results from that race let alone see the action in living color.
Ned Overend and Shari Kain took the top spots that year and all kinds of legends took part, like Michael Tobin (2nd), Jimmy Riccitello (3rd), Oliver Bernhard (4th), Kerry Classen (5th), Chris Legh (15th), Michal Pilousek (28th), Greg Welch (24th), Roch Frey (33rd), Andreas Hestler (39th), Scott Shcumaker (43rd), Peter Reid (49th), Taro Shirato (65th). For the women we had Kerstin Weule (2nd), Jody Mielke (3rd), Uli Blank (4th), Sue Latshaw (5th), Lesley Tomlinson (7th), Danelle Ballangee (10th), Sian Welch (15th), Katrin Tobin (16th), Wendy Ingraham (20th), Raegleigh Tennant (22nd), Kelly Reed (25th), Julie Moss (28th), Heather Fuhr (38th), Lori Bowden (39th), and so many others.
To frame the 1999 show we'll shine the spotlight on women's winner Shari Kain, and the XTERRA Hall of Fame tribute written about her by Dave Nicholas back in 2010 ...
When we first came up with the XTERRA concept, we thought it should be a contest to determine who was the fastest – the triathlete or the mountain biker. Our roots were in mountain biking, and we’d watched world class mountain bikers at our Hawaii stage race, the Outrigger Hotels Hawaiian Mountain Tour, swim in the ocean and run to keep fitn while they were competing in the event. For a mountain bike triathlon, we figured the triathlete would win the swim; the mountain biker would pass them and lead from the bike and the triathlete would chase down the biker on the run and both would be close at the finish.
One of those competitors was a perky, pony-tailed, blonde from Team Ritchey – whose prestigious roster included world champion Thomas Frishknecht. She was an accomplished mountain biker – a U.S. champion in both cycling and cyclo-cross and she was to have a major impact on XTERRA.
At the first XTERRA (or AquaTerra as it was then known) there were 123 competitors on the start line at Wailea Beach. It was a “who’s who” of triathlon and mountain biking – Ned Overend, Mike Kloser, Paul Newby Fraser, Scott Tinley, Michellie Jones, Mike Pigg, Jimmy Riccitello…just to name a few.
It turned out to be one of the most exciting women’s races we have ever seen. Michellie was first woman out of the water but as suspected, that lead didn’t last long. She was picked off on the mountain bike by Shari Kain whose expertise on the mountain bike earned her a seven minute lead over Jones by the time she hit T2. But Michellie did not give up easily, and she chipped away at Shari’s lead and pulled along side her only 800 meters from the finish. The two ran together across Wailea Beach and in the final steps of the race Michellie inched away to take the first ever XTERRA World Championship by only 12 seconds. Just like we planned it.
That fabulous finish wasn’t Shari’s only contribution to the XTERRA Legend that day. It is said she is responsible for the post-race game of naked touch football that was a hallmark of the early days of XTERRA…sorry – no photographic evidence remains of this event!
She returned the 1997 determined to take the title – only to suffer the wrath of Madam Pele on the bike course and finish 90th overall and things were not much better in 1998. ‘99 turned out to be Sharoo’s winning year. Anyone who was there can never forget her dancing hula across the finish line in a grass skirt – an act that is immortalized on one of the banners hanging on our tents, and in the show broadcast nationwide.
That same year Shari introduced us to her backyard trails in Northern California’s Half Moon Bay. We shared these trails with thousands of you on the XTERRA America Tour. We raced in Shari’s backyard for four years from 1999 to 2002 – and it proved to be a wildly popular venue for XTERRA athletes and crew alike.
Shari raced XTERRA and Mountain Bikes for many years – in between giving birth to two children – Jessica and Jeremy - and always brought great professionalism and FUN. As late as 2002 Shari was 3rd at the Maui World Championship and at the Sea Otter mtb classic in the Spring she attacked the women's race on the last lap and nearly upset Alison Dunlop and Alison Sydor – the #1 and #2 women in the world at the time. And never forget some great Halloween costumes and impromptu dancing on stage at the Awards Dinners.
We think Shari’s husband, Pete, had much to do with her success in XTERRA. He is an accomplished triathlete - a 7x U.S. National Age Group Champion, 4x World Age Group ITU Champion, 3x Ironman World Championship finisher and was USA Triathlon’s “Triathlete of the Year” in 2002.
More than 10 years ago, Pete and Shari founded their training and racing team and are still today working with athletes of all abilities to achieve their racing goals - and most importantly - to have fun.