All the stars on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour are headed to Danao in the Cebu province of the Philippines for the fourth-race of the Series this Sunday, April 23.
In the men’s race XTERRA Saipan and New Zealand Champion Sam Osborne, XTERRA Thailand Champ Kieran McPherson, the reigning XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champ Ben Allen, the reigning XTERRA Philippines Champ Bradley Weiss, the 2016 XTERRA Motatapu Champ Olly Shaw, the 2016 XTERRA Saipan Champ Brodie Gardner, former XTERRA Japan champ Takahiro Ogasawara, and the fastest Filipino in XTERRA Joe Miller will all be on the start line. Not to mention Will Kelsay, Alex Roberts, Dan Brown, and Taylor Charlton.
“It's great to have such a competitive Asia-Pacific Tour, although I've made it even harder for myself personally with life changing moments occurring during the offseason,” said Allen, who married fellow XTERRA Warrior Jacqui Slack last month just before the Tour started. “You can't leave a stone unturned this day and age, it's becoming a battle and making mistakes are costly. A race going to plan with luck is the key to success on the Tour.”
One man that’s had great success so far this year has been Sam Osborne, now a local hero in his hometown of Rotorua, New Zealand.
“It's been crazy since XTERRA here in Rotorua, it's something I've wanted and put a lot into and the support here at home has been amazing,” exclaimed Osborne. “I've pulled up well since then and got back into my normal routine pretty quick so happy with how things are going.
When asked what his key to success has been, Osborne said “Have you ever seen Kung Fu Panda? What's the secret ingredient to the secret ingredient soup...? I've got a good crew here at home who are as keen to get out in the bush & in the water as I am and we have fun, "Chop wood, carry water."
Weiss, who won last year in the Philippines when the race was held in Albay, finished third at XTERRA Reunion on Sunday.
As for the course, Weiss says "I have done a few laps of the course and can tell you it's going to be brutal out there and the climate is only making the challenge harder. The bike course is two loops of 20km with 700m+ of climbing each lap. Thats 40km total with 1500m elevation gain which is probably one of the toughest courses on the World Tour, add extreme heat and humidity and you have enough to frighten the most hardcore athletes! Doing one loop in training at an easy pace takes close on 90minutes and leaves even the pros pretty exhausted. Doing two laps at race pace should be an interesting experience. My plan is to take it conservatively and try to have something left to be able to run after that!"
In the women’s race it’s a showdown between XTERRA New Zealand Champion Jacqui Allen and XTERRA Reunion Champ Carina Wasle, with emerging talents Penny Slater and Jessica Kolts adding intrigue.
“I'm still on a high since XTERRA New Zealand,” said (Jacqui) Allen. “I was so happy with my overall performance and now even more excited to tow the start line in the Philippines. I've raced XTERRA Philippines five times now and had three runner-up positions, so hopefully this Sunday might be my turn to take the top step. I love here, Sunrise always offers such a wonderful race experience. It's a new course, new race location, so not too sure what to expect but I like it that way.”
As for Wasle, she has more than just Jacqui Allen to worry about.
“Unfortunately, I broke my little toe at the swim start at the race in Reunion,” she explained. “At the moment I can't run, so hope it will get better the next few days because right now my foot doesn't fit into a running shoe!”
Still, broken toe or not, Wasle has already been out pre-riding the course.
“It is very hot and humid here,” she said. “I just pre-rode one-loop of the bike course. It's lots of very steep climbing, sometimes pushing the bike, rocky singletrails and crazy hot out there. It's one of the toughest courses I have been on and its very long. I think it will take me nearly four hours to finish this race.”
Find the full dossier on the XTERRA Danao elites here.
Learn more at xterradanao.com.