It’s nine AM on a Saturday and Ben Allen is between workouts.
“I just completed hill repeats on the mountain bike and followed it up with a 3km swim. Now I just have a 40-minute run a bit later to shake up the legs,” he said.
Allen is gearing up to defend his XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour title, a quest that starts next weekend at XTERRA Saipan (March 18) in the Northern Mariana Islands.
“XTERRA is where my heart and focus live, so it’s been great to be back in open water and on the trails to get ready for the season,” said the Aussie XTERRA star.
Of course, Ben’s true heart and focus is on something, rather someone, of much greater importance than XTERRA racing these days. Her name is Jacqui Slack, and this weekend he will vow to “love, honor, and cherish her for as long as they both shall live.”
Indeed, the much-anticipated XTERRA Warrior Award winners wedding is upon us. The celebration will take place Saturday in South Bowral, Australia in front of family, friends, and XTERRA Tribesmen and women from around the world.
“It will be more of a festival nestled in the Aussie bush,” says Allen. “We will have an Aussie barbie the night before and a breakfast the next day, then Jacqui and I take off for a mini honeymoon on the Great Barrier Reef.”
A wedding in the outback, a honeymoon at the ocean, and an XTERRA race the next weekend … one would expect nothing less from the 18x XTERRA Champ.
The Ben & Jacqui story started at an XTERRA in Sardinia, Italy, back in 2011. “I had just finished third and it was a big highlight in my career,” Allen recalled. “I’d like to think Jacqui took notice, but really, it was her mum who introduced us.”
The budding relationship carried over to the next stop, and as Allen explains… “When you’re on the road in foreign places, the English-speaking athletes often gather together for meals and travel and look out for each other. At the time, I was feeding myself on free swag from my sponsors, and Jacqui and I traveled to the French Grand Prix together to cut down on costs. Finally, in Switzerland, I had the courage to ask her to be my girlfriend over dinner one night.”
And the rest is history, as those two have been racing and traveling together ever since. In 2012, the year the couple won the Warrior Award for exemplifying the Live More spirit of XTERRA, they traveled some 60,000 miles together.
Allen, an Aussie lifesaver in his younger days, credits Slack, a former firefighter in England, with keeping him balanced.
“She is super understanding. We balance one another and know how to encourage each other and give advice; to accept tough outcomes and move forward,” said Allen. “At the end of the day it comes down to having someone there to really listen.”
We hear ya Ben! We wish you both a lifetime of love and happiness, and a lot more XTERRA!!