Ben Allen and Emma Jeffcoat held the banner high this weekend in Australia at XTERRA Callala in Jervis Bay, New South Wales.
Allen - who is one of the fastest XTERRA swimmers in the world - was out of the water first and never lost his lead. He finished the race in 2:27:22, about four minutes ahead of Rowan Beggs-French, who crossed the line in 2:31:23. Jacob Storey was third in 2:34:18.
"The XTERRA Calalla Race was awesome," said Tommy Morwood, XTERRA MC and manager of The Hills Tri Club near Sydney. "I loved the different race concept that Elite Energy produced for the weekend: a traditional sprint road tri in the morning, the off-road XTERRA experience in the afternoon, then a long course road tri the following day. It really helped showcase how much fun XTERRA events are to the roadies and made the whole race weekend festival bigger. As usual, everyone crossed the line covered in mud, totally exhausted, yet pumped to finish and call themselves part of the XTERRA tribe."
Beggs-French came out of the water two and a half minutes after Allen but eeked out the fastest bike split of the day - 1:23:00 to Allen's 1:23:23. Storey had the fastest run split at 42:00. Allen finished the run in 43:10 and Beggs-French in 45:13.
"Benny Allen was all class as always, leading from the gun and racing solo," added Morwood. "He is amazingly supportive of off-road racing in Australia. He made sure he came and raced the event despite being in his “off-season” at the moment. Not far behind was local boy Rowan Begg-Fench. “Beggsy” - as he’s known to us Auzzies - stepped up to the elite category for the first time and managed to outbike Ben. This isn't totally surprising as he already has two cross-tri world titles to his name and also set the course record at Canberra’s off-road Tripple-Tri.
"Getting dirty for the first time ever was another local, Emma Jeffcoat. Fresh off a stellar rookie ITU year where she finished in the top 30 overall for the season, Emma was keen to try something different and relished the opportunity to be part of an XTERRA event. She was second out of the water overall, and followed that up with a solid swim and bike, which shows she’s got what it takes to come and be competitive in many more XTERRA events to come."
"The bike course is tough but fun," said Allen. "The terrain is forever changing, rocks, to mud, to hard-packed clay. It makes you have to really work hard. Rowan and Jacob kept me honest as I maintained my lead heading into the run. I was happy to claim a win on Aussie soil and finish the year off on a positive note."
On the women's side, Jeffcoat finished in 2:45:01, almost eight minutes ahead of runner-up Kate Bramley, who finished in 2:52:43. Anne Alford was third in 2:52:56.
"For me the course at Callala was great," said Jeffcoat. "It was my first XTERRA event ever so I was excited and a little nervous to see what all the talk about these XTERRA Warriors was all about."
Jeffcoat, who is only 23, has been racing on the ITU circuit for one year. Most recently, she finished 18th for the U23 women at the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam in her debut attempt.
Like Allen, Jeffcoat had the fastest swim of the day and beat most of the men out of the water with a 20:24 split. She also posted the fastest run split by almost four minutes, finishing the course in 45:26 to Bramley's 49:02. Anne Alford smoked the bike in 1:35:51 to Jeffcoat's 1:37:53.
"I grew up swimming in the surf so the beach swim was ideal," said Jeffcoat. "It was my first time racing on the mountain bike and over a 30K course. There were definitely some challenging sections out there where I was tested, and hit the ground a few times, but I loved the thrill, challenge, dynamics, and strength focus of the bike course. I admire Flora Duffy and am working hard on improving my bike handling skills constantly. I can see how mountain biking and XTERRA racing are perfect for this, as the bike course was no easy feat."
In 2018, Jeffcoat is focusing on the ITU World Series. Then, in October, she will head to Maui to compete in the XTERRA World Championship. In the past six months, Jeffcoat has been incorporating mountain biking and trail running into her weekly training.
Allen, who married Jacqui Slack last year, is already planning for the year ahead.
"Jacqui and I are planning a big year ahead, with new and exciting races on the horizon, a wedding or two thrown in and more adventures out there waiting for us," said Allen. "We are focused on helping our #BandJRacing athletes to better themselves each and every day through triathlon and live a healthy and active lifestyle."
Callala was home to the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship from 2014-to-2016, and the course is considered one of the best on the World Tour. The new XTERRA Australia Series for amateurs is organized by Elite Energy Events, one of Australia’s premier event management specialists, who helped produce the Asia-Pacific Championship in 2015-2016.
The series includes XTERRA Callala as well as XTERRA East Gippsland on the Mitchell River in the state of Victoria on February 10, 2018, and then XTERRA Townsville (Queensland) – famed for its amazing mountain bike trails – on September 1, 2018.
View complete race results at www.multisportaustralia.com.