This Sunday, April 8, adventurous triathletes from France and across Europe will be gathering on the island of La Reunion. Located in the Indian Ocean just east of Madagascar, XTERRA Reunion is a challenging course that gives XTERRA veterans and newbies alike a chance to test their early season fitness on a course with a similar profile to that of the XTERRA World Championship in Maui.
Reigning XTERRA 30-34 age group world champ Pierrick Page from France will be making his elite debut on Sunday, and is sure to be challenged by fellow countryman, Pierric Brochet, who was the top amateur at the XTERRA European Championship in Denmark last year. Another young Frenchman, Tom Donnenwirth, who was third in the 15-19 age group in Maui last season - will also be looking to prove himself on La Reunion’s volcanic soil.
You can expect the local Reunion triathletes will be putting in some excellent efforts as well as Anthony Celeste, who was the first place amateur in Reunion last year and finished in the top 10 at XTERRA South Africa in February, and Mathieu Dessarprit - who finished fourth last year - look for podium spots. Dessarprit won the Volcanik Tri on La Reunion in January and knows the rocky terrain well.
In the women’s race, France’s Pauline Aigon and Elisabeth Siroux – who finished third and fourth in the 25-29 age group at Maui last year - will be lining up for a rematch on Sunday. Impressively, Aigon won her age group in every race she competed in during the 2017 XTERRA European Tour. Aigon and Siroux will be joined by 2016 XTERRA 45-49 age group world champ, Nathalie Pugeault, who has the experience to navigate the technical mountain bike and run courses.
“Our island is small, but this race gets more popular every year,” said race director Yannick Desfarges, who will also be wearing a bib number in the race. “We are looking forward to sharing our idyllic landscape and our authentic Creole culture, but don’t expect an easy course.”
The race is known for being a gut-buster much like the course at XTERRA Worlds in Maui. Both have the heat and a home stretch run on the sand.
The course includes two 750-meter loops in a calm, warm (27C) lagoon that is so full of fish and coral, “so it will seem like you are swimming in an aquarium,” said Desfarges. Following the swim, the 30K mountain bike course is a combination of single track, dirt road, and highly technical sections that finishes down the famous Ravine Tabac. The run includes boulder hopping over sharp lava rock, a waist-deep water crossing, and a big climb up the volcano.
XTERRA Reunion offers 26 qualifying spots into XTERRA Worlds for the fastest amateurs.
Learn more at xterraplanet.com.
Photo courtesy Michka Photography