On Sunday, May 7th - a day after competing in the XTERRA Tahiti Triathlon - 2016 XTERRA World Champ Mauricio Mendez became the XTERRA Tahiti Trail Run Champ. He finished the gorgeous but grueling 44 km race across the island of French Tahiti in 3:16:56, almost 14 minutes ahead of ultra-marathoner Guillaute Peretti, who was the runner up in 3:30:33. Dim Lagast was third in 3:36:09.
This weekend represented Mendez’ first XTERRA race of the season and didn’t quite get off to the start he had hoped for. The day before, in the XTERRA off-road triathlon, Mendez’s derailleur broke at mile five while he was in the lead in front of Ben Allen and Sam Osborne, the eventual champ.
“It was good to win after having trouble the day before,” said Mendez. “And it was my longest trail race for sure. I wasn’t sure what to expect and how fast to run so I decided to see if I could stay with Guillaute Perretti and see what was the deal.
“The course was absolutely beautiful and I could see the really hard work from the people who organized the race. By 28 km, I got into a flat section and decided to attack and use some of my speed. It resulted in that I felt good and strong to keep the pace until the end,” continued Mendez. “Of course, after 40 km, I started to feel something different in my legs, but luckily, I enjoy the pain.”
Runner up, Guillaute Peretti, is famous for setting a course record on the GR20 Trail, which crosses the island of Corsica and includes over 13,000 meters of elevation gain. In 2014, he finished the 180 km trail in exactly 32 hours. It can take hikers almost 2 weeks to complete the entire trail due to technical difficulty.
On the women’s side, Karine Voiturin finished first in 4:30:01. Guenaelle Rauby was behind her in 4:38:41 and Carine Soulon was third in 5:00:36.
The XTERRA Tahiti Trail Run was part of a weekend that included six races on two islands. The coast-to-coast trail run course began on the east coast of the island at the entrance to Papenoo Valley and finished in the Valley of Mataiea in the beautiful botanical gardens near the Gauguin Museum.