XTERRA Philippines, the first major on the 2016 XTERRA World Tour, is just two weeks away on Sunday, February 7th in the Bicol Region of southeastern Luzon.
"It seems like only yesterday we were crowning a new World Champion and a repeat Champion at Maui but that was three long months ago and we are now set to start another XTERRA World Tour in the province of Albay in the Philippines,” said Dave Nicholas, managing director of the XTERRA World Tour.
“This is our second year racing in the shadow of the perfectly shaped and still active volcano - Mayon. You can see the volcano from nearly everywhere in Albay and the bike course runs through the local warning areas where Ms Mayon often hurls rocks. Yes, there is an 8K circle around the volcano that is considered dangerous, as every day the tip spews clouds of steam. We've seen lava rocks as big as VW's. The entire experience is one that can only be described as the spirit of the Philippines. Great trails, great hotel, good food, fun and inexpensive shopping and a host of other cool, interesting places to go see."
Several of the sports biggest stars, including reigning XTERRA Asian Tour Champions Brad Weiss and Jacqui Slack, are headed back to Albay for the experience.
“This will be our 5th appearance at XTERRA Philippines, we just love this place” said Slack, who was engaged to Aussie XTERRA great Ben Allen in the off-season. “Fred, Sunrise events & the Filipino people are so welcoming we can’t say no. Plus, the Mt Mayon Volcano is the most stunning back drop for an XTERRA race.”
Slack, who finished second to two-time XTERRA World Champ Flora Duffy last year in Albay, will be racing against XTERRA Japan Champion Mieko Carey (4th last year), Dimity-Lee Duke (3rd last year), and the up-and-coming Kiwi Lizzie Orchard, among others.
“I’m really excited about XTERRA Albay, first time visiting and racing there,” said Orchard, who collected three runner-up finishes and an impressive 5th place showing at XTERRA Worlds last year. “The course looks great, transition two is setup in some amazing ruins, and the organizing team have been so welcoming and helpful already.”
XTERRA Philippines is the second of six races in the 2015-2016 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour where pros and amateurs count their best three scores (the finale in Malaysia counts double). Carey and Orchard got a head start on the series in Hokkaido, Japan last August where they notched first and second-place points, respectively.
“I really enjoyed the 2015 Asia-Pacific Tour Races I competed in (Jervis Bay and Malaysia), so I've decided to race and explore more of the 2016 Tour,” said Orchard. “Pleased to already have some points on the board from XTERRA Japan, and now will be looking to find some more in the Philippines! It would be a dream come true to clock a major win, with three 2nd places last year I've gained some belief that one day it could happen. There are so many talented ladies and I've learnt that in XTERRA - anything can happen. It will be interesting to see where we are all at a few months after Maui, and it should be fun to see how the Tour progresses.”
Slack said she’ll do her best to defend her tour title by racing the Philippines, XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Australia, and the tour finale in Malaysia.
As for the men’s race, the season-opener renews a great (and friendly) rivalry between Weiss and Allen. In their four head-to-head races in Asia last year Weiss won two (Philippines and Malaysia) and Allen won two (Saipan and Guam).
Allen, who won the 2012 and 2013 XTERRA Philippines titles, said he’s not thinking about that…
“I’m more excited just to get back to the Philippines to spend time with my friends and enjoy everything Albay has to offer. XTERRA Philippines offers a good hit out leading into the Asia-Pacific Champs.”
Learn more at www.xterraphil.com