XTERRA veteran Sam Gardner, the first Brit to ever win an XTERRA major, has taken his talents to Palmerston North, New Zealand for a new work/life adventure with his wife and kids.
As such, he’s primed and ready to tackle Saturday’s iconic XTERRA Motatapu off-road triathlon on the South Island of New Zealand.
“Never raced it before but I know the area a bit and know people that have done it,” said Gardner. “I'm biking and swimming pretty well at the moment. The swim is relative, obviously! Had a niggling Achilles injury so will need a decent lead off the bike to have any chance of holding off Olly Shaw and Co.”
Motatapu is longer than your typical XTERRA, combining a 2km swim in Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka, 47km Mountain Bike, and a 15km mountain run over the historic Miners Trail course. While this is just the fifth year XTERRA Motatapu has been part of the World Tour and offered up 19 qualifying spots into the XTERRA World Championship, it’s the 12th anniversary for the weekend of events that attracts thousands of competitors with races in mountain biking, an off-road marathon, adventure runs and triathlons.
Shaw (pictured above), who at just 25-years-old is already a seasoned veteran of the event, is hoping this is the year he breaks through to the top step in Motatapu.
“The off season has been a good one for me. A lot of training and just getting back into the racing groove!” said Shaw, who finished as the runner-up the last two years on the South Island. “I'm feeling pretty good. Things have been building really nicely in training so I'm looking forward to the first one of the year for me. The plan for me after Motatapu is XTERRA New Zealand, the XTERRA Asia Pacific Champs, and then the APAC Tour finale in Malaysia.”
Learn more at motatapu.com.