For spring break this year, the Day family is heading to Playa Conchal, Costa Rica. The family of five – Amy and Doug and their children Robbie, Maggie, and Daisy - will snorkel in the warm, blue water, visit the Arenal Volcano, and explore the 96-acre wilderness preserve at Reserva Conchal.
But they are there for another reason as well. Fifteen-year old Robbie Day (pictured) is trying to qualify for the 2018 XTERRA World Championship in Maui.
The freshman at Evergreen High School in Evergreen, Colorado (just outside Denver) is already an XTERRA veteran. Last year, he placed fourth in his age group at the XTERRA National Championship behind a talented field that included Tate Haugan and Lewis Ryan. At the XTERRA World Championship, he placed 13th in his age group against international competition. Just last week, Robbie was second overall at the Moab Off-Road Duathlon, and only seconds behind XTERRA Pan Am Champ Mike Dorr.
“I barely held him off,” said Dorr, who trains in Vail, Colorado. “We all know Robbie has a bright future.”
“Last year at the XTERRA Pan Am Championship was the first time we let Robbie do the full XTERRA distance,” said his mom, Amy, who will be competing in the sprint event at XTERRA Costa Rica. “He beat his dad that day.”
“I was fine with that,” said Doug, Robbie’s father, who will also be competing at XTERRA Costa Rica. Doug already has an at-large bid to head to Maui this year and is racing to support his son. “People say, ‘Hey, your son beat you,’ and I think yeah, he’s pretty fast.”
Doug was a collegiate swimmer at Dennison College in Ohio and passed on his swimming genes to Robbie, who swims on a club team in Evergreen.
“Swimming was his first sport,” said Amy, who is an avid mountain biker. “Then he did middle school cross country and we realized he was a pretty fast runner too. When he entered high school last fall, he joined his school’s mountain biking team and he turned out to be super good at that too.”
“He’s an interesting kid,” said his mom. “He’s smart and self-motivated and a really hard worker. But don’t be fooled – his room is a disaster.”
Amy admits that high school is a challenging time with new pressures for teens and she is grateful that he has club swimming and mountain biking to keep Robbie focused on what he loves. “Kids get exposed to a lot of different social pressures in high school, but swimming combined with his coach Yaro Middaugh’s workouts doesn’t leave him much time to get into trouble.”
Several other Americans will be adventuring in Costa Rica as well. Kristen Wade, who placed third in her 35-39 age group at the XTERRA National Championship last year, will be traveling to Playa Conchal with Melanie Willard. Wade competed in her first XTERRA in 2011 and is a coach at Braveheart Coaching Chicago. Willard did her first triathlon last year at XTERRA Renegade.
“I just started mountain biking last year,” said Willard, who was 14th in her age group at the 2017 XTERRA World Championship. “XTERRA is so much more fun than being on the road. My goal is just to enjoy the experience and keep meeting cool people. It definitely fits my personality and I’m really having fun.”
Willard’s goal this year is to get back to Maui and improve on her time from last year, which is why she is heading to XTERRA Costa Rica.
Wade has a similar goal. “I am hoping to qualify for Worlds early and then relax and do some local races,” she said.
Willard and Wade met at a Braveheart coaching camp last year and are looking forward to traveling together in Costa Rica and sharing a house in the days leading up to the race.
“She’s a cool chick,” said Willard about Wade. “We’re going to have a blast.”