Mauricio Mendez from Mexico and Jacqui Allen from Great Britain captured the fourth annual XTERRA Tahiti elite titles in Moorea on Friday, May 11.
It’s the second XTERRA win of the season for Mendez, who won at XTERRA Chile in March, and the seventh major in his career which includes the 2016 XTERRA World Championship. It’s also the second victory of the season for Jacqui Allen, who took the tape at XTERRA New Zealand in April, and it's her second win in as many years in Tahiti.
In the men’s race it was chaos from the start with four top-level elites all exiting the 1.5km swim together. Ben Allen registered the fastest split in 18:06, but reigning XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour champ Sam Osborne was one-second back, XTERRA Cyprus runner-up Maxim Chane from France was four seconds behind, and Mendez was nine seconds back.
“We all came out of the swim together,” said Osborne. “I had a really fast transition and saw an opportunity so made the start of the bike really fast. It was a good move, and the move that needed to happen if I was going to win the race. Benny & Maxim came back across and it was a 3-up TT for a large amount of the bike.”
Of note, it was Chane who posted the fastest bike split of the day (1:37:15), with Osborne just a few seconds back, then Mendez two minutes later.
“The running legs just weren’t there today,” Osborne continued. “From when I left transition it was one of those days where you know it is going to hurt every step of the way. I suffered every part of that run. I kicked as hard as I could that last km before Mau caught me, but he was on in the run today and hit me with one better.”
Mendez crushed the run with a split (40:23) that was more than three-minutes faster than Osborne to take the tape in 2:40:09, just 37-seconds ahead of the Kiwi.
“Thirty-seven seconds and on the last long straight home,” sighed Osborne, who finished second by 49-seconds to Brad Weiss at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race in Danao three weeks ago. “Last two races I’ve had two very close battles with the past two World Champs. Hats off to them, and I’m sure the next battle will be just as epic.”
Chane finished in third, less than two minutes behind Osborne, and Allen placed fourth for the third time in a row on the Asia-Pacific Tour.
Elite Men's Results
|1||Mauricio Mendez, MEX||2:40:09||75|
|2||Sam Osborne, NZL||2:40:46||67|
|3||Maxim Chane, FRA||2:42:08||61|
|4||Ben Allen, AUS||2:56:26||56|
In the women’s race Jacqui Allen was able to erase the memories of a crash during the bike in Danao that left her unable to finish and shaking her head. It turns out, the rest required from that mishap might have been just what the doctor ordered.
“I’m thrilled. I guess a little bit of forced rest does me good,” smiled Allen, who twisted her arm and banged up her elbow and toe in the fall a few weeks ago.
Indeed, the former XTERRA Warrior award winner seems to thrive on adversity. “I was sort of happy that the rain came down, as I seem to go well in muddy adverse conditions,” she explained. “There was a solid female field here and I knew it would take a perfect race to take the win. I had a good swim exiting first with Samantha (Kingsford) hot on my heels.”
Kingsford, who was second to Allen at XTERRA New Zealand, took the early lead on the bike but then the course start climbing.
“As we hit the first hill I rode away,” said Allen. “I technically rode well but did have a few minor offs through a couple of the creaks. It was tough out there and the mud zapped your energy. Still, I loved it.”
All the while two-time XTERRA World Champ Lesley Paterson was working, but she came out of the water two-minutes behind Allen and lost another two minutes on the bike.
“My fitness was just not there today,” said the legendary Braveheart and reigning XTERRA Pan America Tour Champ.
“I took four months off over the winter to let my body heal (from a stress fracture in her pelvis and a whole lot more), and I've never done that before. That said, Jacqui had an awesome race so can't take anything away from her! Today's race was muddy, technical, and draining. I almost passed out! Now I need to knuckle down and do some training!”
First race back or not, Allen knows what kind of competitor Paterson is and was running scared.
“When I came off the bike I heard I had a 5-minute lead, but knew that may not be enough to keep Lesley at bay,” said Allen. “I thought if I could make it to the 5k mark I might stand a chance.”
Allen not only made it to the 5k mark, she made it to the 10k mark and took the tape in 3:12:15, more than two-minutes ahead of Paterson.
“I’m delighted to take the win here in Tahiti again,” she said. “It’s such a fantastic event with super volunteers and a passionate crew with a fantastic course and the most stunning scenery. It really is a world class event.”
Penny Slater, the Tour leader, finished in third, followed by Kingsford, Leela Hancox and Kristy Jennings.
Elite Women's Results
|1||Jacqui Allen, GBR||3:12:15||75|
|2||Lesley Paterson, GBR||3:14:41||67|
|3||Penny Slater, AUS||3:20:57||61|
|4||Samantha Kingsford, NZL||3:31:10||56|
|5||Leela Hancox, AUS||3:33:12||51|
|6||Kristy Jennings, NZL||3:50:14||47|
All-time XTERRA Tahiti Elite Winners
Year – Men’s Champ/Women’s Champ
2018 – Mauricio Mendez/Jacqui Allen
2017 – Sam Osborne/Jacqui Allen
2016 – Josiah Middaugh/Lesley Paterson
2015 – Brice Daubord/Sarah Backler
Osborne, Slater lead XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour
Kiwi Sam Osborne and Aussie Penny Slater held their leads in the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour elite points standings after the third of four events in Moorea today. Should the two travel to XTERRA Albay for the finale in the Philippines on June 17 they’d be the odds-on favorites to take the series title.
"100% mate, I’m off to Albay, not going to let the Asia-Pacific Tour go from underneath me," exclaimed Osborne after the race.
Ben Allen sits in second with 187 points, followed by McPherson with 143 points. They are the only two in position to surpass Osborne in points should certain scenario’s play out.
In the women’s chase Leela Hancox is in second with 169 points, followed by Jacqui Allen with 150 points, Samantha Kingsford with 123, and Kristy Jennings with 116. All four of those women’s are still in the hunt for the overall title.
Next up: XTERRA Albay, June 17 (Legaspi, Philippines)
XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Elite Standings (after three)
|1||Sam Osborne, NZL||232||75||90||67|
|2||Ben Allen, AUS||187||56||75||56|
|3||Kieran McPherson, NZL||143||61||82||DNS|
|4||Alex Roberts, NZL||101||43||58||DNS|
|5||Bradley Weiss, RSA||100||DNS||100||DNS|
|6||Mauricio Mendez, MEX||75||DNS||DNS||75|
|7||Fabien Combaluzier, FRA||69||DNS||69||DNS|
|8||Olly Shaw, NZL||67||67||DNS||DNS|
|9||Brodie Gardner, AUS||63||DNS||63||DNS|
|10||Maxim Chane, FRA||61||DNS||DNS||61|
|11||Will Ross, USA||53||DNS||53||DNS|
|12||Hayden Wilde, NZL||51||51||DNS||DNS|
|13||Jacky Boisset, FRA||49||DNS||49||DNS|
|14||Lewis Ryan, NZL||47||47||DNS||DNS|
|15||Joe Miller, PHI||45||DNS||45||DNS|
|16||Takahiro Ogasawara, JPN||41||DNS||41||DNS|
|17||Rodney Bell, AUS||39||39||DNS||DNS|
|1||Penny Slater, AUS||207||56||90||61|
|2||Leela Hancox, AUS||169||43||75||51|
|3||Jacqui Allen, GBR||150||75||DNF||75|
|4||Samantha Kingsford, NZL||123||67||DNS||56|
|5||Kristy Jennings, NZL||116||DNS||69||47|
|6||Carina Wasle, AUT||100||DNS||100||DNS|
|7||Laura Mira Diaz, BRA||99||36||63||DNS|
|8||Myriam Guillot-Boisset, FRA||82||DNS||82||DNS|
|9||Lesley Paterson, GBR||67||DNS||DNS||67|
|10||Hannah Wells, NZL||61||61||DNS||DNS|
|11||Deborah Lynch, NZL||51||51||DNS||DNS|
|12||Lydia Hale, NZL||47||47||DNS||DNS|
|13||Mary Gray, NZL||39||39||DNS||DNS|