The 2016-2017 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour kicks off in style this Saturday in the South Pacific at XTERRA Tahiti.
Reigning XTERRA World Champion Josiah Middaugh and two-time World Champ Lesley Paterson highlight the elite fields racing this weekend.
XTERRA roving correspondent Nico Lebrun, a former world champion himself, returned to Tahiti for the second straight year … and this time he will do the race as well. Today he wrote us with his thoughts about one of the most exotic stops on the XTERRA World Tour…
After an amazing inaugural event last year, the VSOP Crew looks poised and ready to take the next step. New this year, XTERRA Tahiti is part of the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour and the field is growing.
The organizers were in Maui last year and invited the entire XTERRA Tribe to Tahiti, including the world champs. Flora is on her Olympic year so was not able to accept, but runner-up Lesley Paterson – a two-time Maui winner – was happy to take her place alongside Josiah Middaugh.
We also have Christophe Betard, the overall amateur champion in Maui last year who is now racing pro. Betard is French, and Tahiti is a French Territory.
When I was here last year we talked to the organizers about creating a more traditional-style XTERRA race with a start and finish in the same place instead of the long point-to-point race they produced last year which was hard logistically, and tough for family and spectators to follow.
They made this change and found a perfect park for transition tucked in between a botanical garden and the old Paul Gauguin Museum (Famous French Painter, who finished his life in Tahiti and created a lot of famous paintings here).
They also kept the Transtahitienne race, a bike and run crossing the Island that starts from the other side and finishes at the same place, and also host a long trail run of 44km and an aquathon for the kids! It will be a crazy Saturday with all four races running at the same time.
There is a lot of support from the community for the events with the Mayor, and also the minister behind the project. Most of the locals let them use their land, and many even helped to create trails and clean old roads. They had hundreds of volunteers working to clear fields, fix trails, build transition, post arrows, and they also have access this year to the "Presidential Tribune" to set a finish line that I can't wait to see!
The swim in Lagoon will be three loops of 500m and it will be fun to watch for the public, and the running trail will be a masterpiece from what I’ve seen of it. It’s really hard, muddy, hot and humid but with some amazing views and they have planned a surprise for the runners who will be greeted by a local music band and dancer just before the final downhill, in the middle of the forest!
I can tell you that this race, from every vantage point, is something amazing and unique.
Tahiti, this French territory, has 118 islands in 5 different zones spread out in the South Pacific Ocean. As French citizens we all know these names, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea. We imagine it, we see the pictures, but coming here and swimming in these lagoons and riding in this green land is just amazing. I had an amazing experience swimming with sting rays, enjoying the white sand, blue waters, and petting these amazing animals!
I know there are many great destinations on the XTERRA World Tour, but this one is special and I would encourage everyone to come out for an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
We had the pleasure last night to welcome Lesley and Josiah with Polynesian dance and song. It was fun to see our XTERRA stars being immersed in the culture of the island.
On Saturday I will follow the race from the inside. After the organizers watched me race in the “legends” division in Maui last year to celebrate the 20th anniversary, they thought it would be fun to have me race here as well. Of course my mission will stay the same, and that is to help the organizers on the technical parts before the race, and give them the best feedback possible on the race afterwards. I think it will be good to see the event from a racers point of view, and I can’t wait to get going.
TENTATIVE 2016-17 XTERRA ASIA-PACIFIC TOUR
May 14, 2016 - XTERRA Tahiti
Aug 27, 2016 - XTERRA Korea (amateur only)
Sept 3, 2016 - XTERRA Japan
TBD, 2017 - XTERRA Philippines
Mar 11, 2017 - XTERRA Saipan
Apr 8, 2017 - XTERRA New Zealand
TBD, 2017 - XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship (Australia)
April 29-30, 2017 - XTERRA Malaysia (Tour finale)