The 2016 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour racing season gets underway Sunday in Albay for the 6th annual XTERRA Philippines Championship.
XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas is on-site to take in all the action and brings us this report from Friday in the Philippines..
The 2016 XTERRA World Tour season is about to start this weekend. Our Philippine event kicks it all off with a 7am start Sunday.
It is never easy to predict early season races, but Bradley Weiss has been tearing things up in South Africa and is here to defend his 2015 title. Aussie Ben Allen is always a threat in the Pacific and our very fast Japanese threat Ogasawara has made a last minute entry.
For the women, defending race champion and two-time XTERRA World Champion Flora Duffy is focused on her build to the Olympics and thus couldn't come to defend her crown in Albay. We look then at Brit Jacqui Slack, second last year to Duffy and a winner here in the past. She will be challenged by Lizzie Orchard of New Zealand and Mieko Carey of Japan.
The Asian Elite division is showing the promise we hoped for and between them and Filipino elites we have 15 entries. Registration and the expo opened today and the place was rockin' as Sunrise events creates such a great experience. Athletes arriving today at the Legazpi airport were greeted with local Albay dancers and music, a treat one gets nowhere but the Philippines and Albay. Governor Joey Salceda is quite involved and has personally greeted many of us coming to his part of the world.
The course has matured and last years 5th place finisher Charlie Epperson says the bike course is harder and faster. "I expected those sandy places to be soft and slow, but grass has grown over and firmed it up. It will be faster for sure".
The run too will change slightly as the neat chicanes through the ruins of Cagsawa can no longer be used as that area is now designated as a protected historical spot.
Weather has been a bit cooler than past years but with rain every day. We catch glimpses of the fabulous Mayon volcano but have not had a clear view yet.
We'll post more insight from Dave along with photo galleries on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/XTERRAplanet.