At the XTERRA World Championship last month, 74-year old Peter Wood (#877) won his tenth XTERRA World Championship age group title.
This was not without its challenges. In the 2016 XTERRA World Championship, Wood had a bad crash in the mud.
"Unfortunately, my hip bone impacted a large rock under the mud when I came off my bike," said Wood. "The results were two fractures of the hip socket and two fractures of my pelvis. In addition, the injuries caused a deep vein thrombosis in my calf. So I had three months on crutches and an extended time on blood thinners subsequent to the race."
Wood, who divides his time between Southern California, his native New Zealand, and Australia, has been competing on the ITU circuit and in XTERRA events for years. He is also an avid surfer, which comes in quite handy when swimming in the Maui waves.
In this year's race, Wood not only revisited the site of his epic crash, but he gracefully dealt with his fear with a calm head and a brave heart.
"The swim was pretty good, in that I am a surfer and the prospect of a large shore break did not really bother me," said Wood about his race. "The water was pretty choppy, so I did not have the fastest swim, but I came out in second place in my age group. We were lucky on the bike that the course had dried out and the mud was at a minimum. I always like the bottom half of the bike course, because the fallen ripe passion fruit create a tropical aroma in the forest."
About halfway out of the lower bowl on the bike course, Wood passed Rene Ruiz, who beat him out of the water.
"From there on, I took it at a steady pace and was able to ride all of the hills without any walking. It was great to pass the spot where I crashed last year, and I really enjoyed the last 10K of single track."
Wood was slower than he would have liked on the run, because most of the past year was spent recovering from his crash. But like all XTERRA competitors, he had no idea how far back his competition was, so he kept pushing forward.
"I knew I was in first place on the bike. I also knew that I would be pushed by my age group competitors the whole way. I did not know if I had won my age group until I had crossed the finish line so it was good that I kept up a steady pace on the run since James Rawie wasn't too far behind."
Wood had a bit of help along the way in terms of a running companion.
"On the run, there was one other competitor who was with me for a bit," said Wood. "I would pass him on the uphills and he would pass me on the downhills. It became quite funny and he would say "your turn" on the uphills and I would say "your turn" on the downhills."
Now, Wood is taking some time in Noosa, Australia, where he is enjoying the late spring weather and continuing to train.
"Well, I have no real off-season," said Wood. "Will be racing in New Zealand including, perhaps, the Coast to Coast, the XTERRA New Zealand, and an Ironman 70.3. I find that, as you get older, it is better to keep training rather than take time off, since it is so hard to regain your fitness."
In 2018, Wood will move up an age group and he hopes to compete in as many events as he can.
"Without injuries," he adds.
"I am really pleased to have won my tenth XTERRA age group world title. My approach is to just have fun and see how it goes."
And hopefully, stop and smell the passion fruit along the way.
Photo Courtesy of Enduro Photo