This Saturday, May 5, the XTERRA Pan Am Tour heads to Uruguay, in a place so beautiful it’s called “the Monaco of the South.”
This is the first edition of XTERRA Uruguay in Punta del Este and there is much excitement and anticipation for the event, which will include a 1.5K swim, 30K mountain bike, and a 9K run.
It’s the fourth stop on the Tour, and the first of three straight in May (Brazil is on the 12th and Oak Mountain is the following week on the 19th). The Silver level event features a $7,500 elite purse, 75-point scale awarding, and 26 qualifying spots for amateurs hoping to race in the XTERRA World Championship.
Canada’s Karsten Madsen is using this brand-new race to assess some of his own brand-new changes this year.
“I had many missteps last year that I needed to address,” said Madsen, who was last year’s XTERRA Victoria and XTERRA Mine Over Matter champ. “I’ve made big changes over this off-season.”
For one, Madsen has a new coach in Jono Hall, who is Triathlon Canada’s head coach. Secondly, in January, Madsen traded his home in Canada for Triathlon Canada’s National Training Centre in Phoenix, Arizona.
“I’m under a very different training system and program now,” said Madsen. “I’ve put down some amazing training and have a great group to work with. So everyday I get to show up for work and get to test myself against the best in the world. Right now, I’m in the best shape of my life mentally and physically. This race in Uruguay is the start of a three-race, three-week tour that includes XTERRA Uruguay, XTERRA Brazil, and XTERRA Oak Mountain.”
Madsen has not made it easy on himself. He will face serious competition at all three races. In Uruguay, his biggest competition is likely to come from New Zealand’s Kieran McPherson. McPherson was the XTERRA Thailand champ last year and is coming off a victory at XTERRA Argentina in March under tough conditions. A week before XTERRA Argentina, McPherson was second to Mauricio Mendez at XTERRA Chile, and on April 22nd, McPherson finished third behind reigning XTERRA World Champ Brad Weiss and reigning XTERRA Asia Pacific Tour champ, Sam Osborne, at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Danao. A skilled mountain biker, McPherson will not yield to the Canadian either on the trails or in the water.
“The competition here and at the other two races will be solid,” admitted Madsen. “Obviously I'm not the only guy that wants to win. I do believe the level I’m at across all three sports is enough, but there is more to winning then just going hard. You need to bring a different kind of intensity on the day. To accomplish my goals, I’ll truly have to hurt and dig to a new level in the race. I’ve torn myself apart in the training sessions to exceed the demands of competition.”
In the women’s race, US athletes Kara LaPoint and Kelli Montgomery are the favorites.
This is Montgomery’s second year as an elite, and she is coming off a victory at XTERRA Costa Rica in late March. She spent last year honing her skills on the bike, and she will be tough to beat. As an amateur, she was the 40-44 age group champ at the 2014 XTERRA World Championship.
But LaPoint can’t be counted out either. She’s been out with a broken toe since early March, but she’s been cross-training like a bandit.
“Aside from the fracture, my training is right on track and I’m feeling great,” she said.
Following XTERRA Uruguay, both LaPoint and Montgomery will head to XTERRA Brazil and then XTERRA Oak Mountain in Alabama.
Located along the coast in southern Uruguay, Punta del Este is one of the biggest resort cities in South America and only a two-hour drive from Montevideo.
For athletes and their families attending the race, the sophisticated resort town is known for its music and cinema festivals, whale watching, culture, art, and haute cuisine.
In addition to the main event, XTERRA Uruguay will also feature a 3K open water swim and a 21/10K trail run.
Learn more about XTERRA Uruguay at https://www.xterraplanet.com
Image by Coolcaesar.