Phuket, Thailand - Kieran McPherson from New Zealand and Renata Bucher from Switzerland won the inaugural XTERRA Phuket off-road triathlon on a magnificent morning in Thailand.
It's the first career XTERRA World Tour win for McPherson, and the 34th for Bucher who has now won an XTERRA major in 15 different countries.
In the men's race Ben Allen turned in a blazing 21:01 swim to lead McPherson and a chase group including fellow Aussies Brodie Gardner and Taylor Charlton out of the water by two minutes.
"The race was pretty epic. I finished second today to Kieran who had a phenomenal race and brought it home during the run and that's where it counted," said Allen. "For me it was a pretty interesting race. Had a pretty good swim, big lead out of the water. Jumped on the bike and felt good so I went pretty hard but you know it's typical Asian racing. I almost got hit by a car turning on to the road, took two wrong turns. I had a flat tire and everything that could have went wrong, went wrong."
"But I got into transition two and started to run hard but again cramps on the run from the heat. Kieran came flying past and I tried to hang with him as long as I could but the legs just didn't have it today."
The day belonged to McPherson as he pushed his body to his first XTERRA major victory in his second season racing.
"Ben put a pretty good lead out of the water," he said. "I tried to push hard on the bike to try to cut into his lead and catch him before the flat section. I kind of just cooked myself."
"I could see Ben coming out of transition and I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me. I caught him after about 4 or 5kms and I never looked back."
"It was hard, I fell over a few times in the last few kilometers and just couldn't feel my legs anymore."
"This is my first ever victory for XTERRA in my second season ... can't really complain about that," he added with a giant grin. "A really happy day."
In the women's race, American Kelli Montgomery led the ladies out of the water with Bucher on her heals.
Bucher using transition to her advantage exited to the bike with the lead and never looked back finishing in 3:10:22.
"There's always this fine line between pushing hard and really suffering," Bucher said. "It's hot, it's humid and these hills are really steep and slippery but I actually love the technical part when it's a slippery downhill. I love that so much and I think I made a bit of time there."
"On the run I just pushed through and had the big goal in front of me to make it happen. To win in another country and for the first time in Thailand. Every time it's a gift, you never know what can happen and I told myself to never cry if I don't win but now I have tears from just being so happy."
For Montgomery her day was a battle for second place against XTERRA newcomer Marika Wagner of Sweden. The pair changed positions on the bike with Wagner coming into T2 in second place behind Bucher by posting the fastest bike split at 1:55:21.
"I felt like I swam pretty well, then got on the bike and tried to start more conservative and build the pace throughout watching how hard I went on the hills."
"Markia passed me half-way through the bike, she had a nice bike split but I tried to settle into a pace and catch her on the run."
Montgomery made her pass around mile two and finished nearly nine minutes back of Bucher at 3:19:25.
For Wagner she added, "I didn't know what to expect from the other girls so I just had to do my own race. I managed to find a good pace on the bike but my most challenging part was the swim."
"I saw the next girl on the run coming out of T2 and she looked like a good runner. I tried to go as hard as I could as I thought she would pass me but I decided that she wouldn't get it easy."
For its inaugural event, XTERRA Thailand received high marks for the event operation and the quality of the course from amateurs and pros alike.
The stunning scenery, incredible people and vibrant adventures you can find in Phuket has not gone unnoticed by all who made the journey to this island in the Andaman Sea. There should be many familiar faces next year.
2017 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Point Standings After Two
|1||Kieran McPherson, NZL||131||56||75|
|2||Ben Allen, AUS||128||61||67|
|3||Markus Benesch, AUT||102||51||51|
|4||Brodie Gardner, AUS||100||39||61|
|5||Will Kelsay, USA||94||47||47|
|6||Sam Osborne, NZL||75||75||DNS|
|7||Aleksandr Dorovskikh, RUS||72||36||36|
|8||Bradley Weiss, RSA||67||67||DNS|
|9||David Ballesteros, ESP||56||DNS||56|
|10||Takahiro Ogasawara, JPN||51||21||30|
|11||Yuichi Hosoda, JPN||43||43||DNS|
|12||Taylor Charlton, AUS||43||DNS||43|
|14||Dominik Wychera, AUT||33||33||DNS|
|15||Fabrizio Bartoli, ITA||33||DNS||33|
|16||Joe Miller, PHI||30||30||DNS|
|17||Emil Duraj, SVK||27||27||DNS|
|18||Akihiko Maeda, JPN||25||25||DNS|
|19||Michal Bucek, SVK||23||23||DNF|
|1||Renata Bucher, SUI||75||DNS||75|
|2||Carina Wasle, AUT||75||75||DNS|
|3||Kelli Montgomery, USA||67||DNS||67|
|4||Mieko Carey, JPN||67||67||DNS|
|5||Marika Wagner, SWE||61||DNS||61|
|6||Belinda Hadden, AUS||56||DNS||56|
XTERRA Phuket was the fifth of 41 events where amateur athletes from around the world could qualify to race at the 22nd annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on October 29.
2017 XTERRA World Championship Qualifying Series Schedule
|Date||Race||Elite Winners or Location|
|Feb 25||XTERRA South Africa||Richard Murray / Flora Duffy|
|Mar 4||XTERRA Motatapu||Dougal Allan / Josie Wilcox|
|Mar 18||XTERRA Saipan + Silver||Sam Osborne / Carina Wasle|
|Mar 25||XTERRA Argentina # Silver||Gonzalo Tellechea / Suzie Snyder|
|Apr 1||XTERRA Thailand + Silver||Kieran McPherson / Renata Bucher|
|Apr 1||XTERRA Chile # Silver||San Bernardo, Santiago|
|Apr 2||XTERRA Malta * Silver||Majjistral Nature Reserve|
|Apr 8||XTERRA New Zealand + Silver||Rotorua, North Island|
|Apr 9||XTERRA Costa Rica # Silver||Playa Reserva Conchal|
|Apr 16||XTERRA La Reunion||La Reunion Island|
|Apr 23||XTERRA Cyprus * Silver||Lara Beach/Akamas, Paphos|
|Apr 23||XTERRA Cebu + GOLD||Danao, Cebu, Philippines|
|Apr 29||XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship / Malaysia + GOLD||Langkawi, Malaysia|
|Apr 30||XTERRA Greece * Silver||Vouliagmeni|
|May 6||XTERRA Tahiti + Silver||Moorea|
|May 14||XTERRA Spain * Silver||Taragonna|
|May 14||XTERRA Brazil # Silver||Ilha Bella, Sao Paolo|
|May 20||XTERRA Oak Mountain # GOLD||Pelham, AL, USA|
|May 27||XTERRA Portugal * Silver||Golega|
|Jun 10||XTERRA Belgium * Silver||Namur|
|Jun 17||XTERRA Mine over Matter ^||Milton, Ontario, Canada|
|Jun 18||XTERRA Finland * Silver||Imatra|
|Jun 24||XTERRA Switzerland * GOLD||Vallee de Joux|
|Jul 2||XTERRA France * GOLD||Xonrupt|
|Jul 9||XTERRA Victoria # Silver||Victoria, B.C., Canada|
|Jul 15||XTERRA Beaver Creek # GOLD||Beaver Creek, CO, USA|
|Jul 30||XTERRA Abruzzo * Silver||Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy|
|Aug 5||XTERRA Mexico # GOLD||Tapalpa|
|Aug 5||XTERRA Norway * Silver||Norefjell|
|Aug 6||XTERRA Canmore ^||Canmore, Alberta, Canada|
|Aug 12||XTERRA Quebec ^||Quebec City, Canada|
|Aug 12||XTERRA Parry Sound ^||Ontario, Canada|
|Aug 13||XTERRA Dominican Republic # Silver||Barahona|
|Aug 13||XTERRA Poland * Silver||Krakow|
|Aug 19||XTERRA Germany * GOLD||Zittau|
|Aug 26||XTERRA Sweden * Silver||Hammarbybacken, Stockholm|
|Aug 26||XTERRA Sleeping Giant ^||Thunder Bay, ON, Canada|
|Sep 2||XTERRA Japan + Silver||Hokkaido|
|Sep 3||XTERRA European Championship / Denmark * GOLD||Mons Klint|
|Sep 16||XTERRA Pan American Championship / USA # D-GOLD||Ogden, Utah, USA|
|Oct 29||XTERRA World Championship||Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii|
* XTERRA European Tour / # XTERRA Pan American Tour / + Asia-Pacific Tour
Silver = Min. $7,500 pro purse & 75-point scale // GOLD = Min $15,000 pro purse & 100-point scale.