For three-time XTERRA World Champion Ruben Ruzafa and two-time XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson the goal is simple, to get their titles back.
“I feel good, strong and fresh,” said Ruzafa, who won his first Maui in 2008, then went back-to-back in 2013 and 2014 before finishing 3rd behind Josiah Middaugh and Braden Currie last year.
“This year I saved more energy for this race, and I think it has been a good decision. I don´t know if I am the fastest I have ever been, but I sure feel good.”
And he has sure raced good too. He won XTERRA Reunion to start the year, finished second behind Roger Serrano at XTERRA Greece, then reeled off four straight wins at XTERRA Portugal, Switzerland, France, and Germany en route to capturing the European Tour Championship for the second time in three years.
“I have had very good results this year, and I’m happy for the season so far but the most important races are now with Maui and then the ITU Cross Tri World Championships,” said Ruzafa.
“This race in Maui is different from all the others. It’s the last one, on a beautiful island with people from all nations. I love the course. It’s hard, semi-technical with muddy parts, dry parts, long climbs, a twisty downhill and warm, humid conditions. It’s what a World Championship course should be.”
As for his goal on raceday, “I just hope to give my best. Be concentrated, motivated, and sure of what I can give.”
For Paterson, who won this race in 2011 and 2012 and was the runner-up in 2013 and last year, the 2016 season turned from bad to good and now she is hoping it will end with great.
“The beginning of the year was awful - depression, Lyme flare up, wah, wah…” said Paterson. “Then it picked up and I had some great races discovering the world a bit - Tahiti, France, Italy. Found some amazing people and places.”
Paterson said her early struggles this season made her “mentally tougher,” which will serve her well come October 23.
“I’m excited, nervous, ready to have fun and lay it down,” she said. “Its Worlds ya know, and all the big names come out and that course is tough, its gritty, has loads of climbing and definitely the strongest athlete wins on the day. There is nowhere to hide.”
Paterson is hoping to channel the energy she had in 2012.
“That was my best performance,” she explained. “I came to defend with all the pressure on me and I delivered. Not only that, it truly was one of those performances that felt perfect in every way.”
Now in her ninth year racing XTERRA, Paterson says she loves the sport more than she ever has and her mantra for race day, “To be grateful and never give up ... oh, and to win!”