The third stop on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour takes us to the island of Moorea in the South Pacific paradise of Tahiti.
The 1.5K swim, 32K mountain bike, and 10K trail run will challenge athletes through pineapple fields, rainforest trails, and steep and rocky single track. Like all of the stops on the XTERRA World Tour, XTERRA Tahiti will also reveal the unique beauty of the local culture, and on this stop, the magic of Polynesia. Tahiti – and the island of Moorea –have similar spectacular peaks, turquoise waters, and hot, white sand as Hawaii. For centuries, the inhabitants of Tahiti referred to the magic of the islands as “mana” or life-force, which you can feel from the moment you arrive.
This year’s race is setting up to be a rematch between the reigning XTERRA Pan American Champ Mauricio Mendez and the reigning XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champ, Sam Osborne. Last year, Mendez broke his derailleur and wasn’t able to finish, while Osborne took the title.
“Both athletes are back this year,” said race director Jean-Michel Monot. “Mauricio told me he wants revenge.”
In addition to Mendez and Osborne, XTERRA Tahiti has a deep, elite line-up in both the men’s and women’s races. Mendez, the 2016 XTERRA World Champ, is the man to beat. In March, he won XTERRA Chile and added a sixth XTERRA championship title to his name. But Osborne is on fire so far this year and may have the mana needed to beat the 22-year old star. He comes to Tahiti following his victory at XTERRA New Zealand and a second-place finish at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship to reigning XTERRA World Champ, Brad Weiss.
Ben Allen - who is currently seated third on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour after two fourth-place finishes in New Zealand and Danao - will join the mix as will Tahiti’s own, Cedric Wane. Max Chane is coming all the way from France to test his luck on the islands. He is seated third in the XTERRA European Tour and had two solid races in Malta and Cyprus, where he finished fifth and second respectively.
In the women’s race, two-time XTERRA World Champ Lesley Paterson is making her XTERRA debut in Moorea after recovering from a stress fracture in her pelvis last fall. Even with her injury, she finished fifth at XTERRA Worlds last year, and she doesn’t look any less fierce this year.
“What can I say about Moorea and Tahiti, it's simply idyllic, it's paradise,” exclaimed Paterson, who won XTERRA Tahiti in 2016. “Not only that, the race organizers are amazing and just so hospitable. Doing races like this that are challenging but also stunning, is the reason I do this sport. Not to mention my hubby is rather pleased about some potential beach time.”
Last year’s XTERRA Tahiti champ Jacqui Allen is also slated to be at the start, even though she had a bad crash in Danao and suffered a serious injury to her elbow. No matter her pain level, expect the speedy swimmer to be out of the water quickly.
"I will be on the start line for Tahiti, maybe not 100%, but enough to race and I'm super excited to get to Moorea," said Allen. "We had the best time last year and can’t wait to catch up with the XTERRA Tahiti crew again."
Australia’s Penny Slater will also be a contender. She is leading the standings in the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour after a fourth-place finish at XTERRA New Zealand and a second-place finish to Carina Wasle in Danao.
The dark horse may be Samantha Kingsford, who was second to Allen at XTERRA New Zealand. She will be joined by her countrywoman, Kristy Jennings, in her first year as an elite. Four years ago, Jennings didn’t even know how to swim, but last year, she was the 35-39 age group champ at XTERRA Worlds.
In addition to the standard XTERRA off-road triathlon, XTERRA Tahiti will host 55K and 27K trail runs. 350 runners are expected including trail elites Fabrice D'Aletto and Marion Delespierre.
After XTERRA Tahiti, there is one more race in the four-stop XTERRA Asia-Pacific Series, which began with XTERRA New Zealand, moved to XTERRA Danao in the Philippines, and will conclude with XTERRA Albay, also in the Philippines, June 17.
Learn more and find the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour standings at xterraplanet.com.
All-time XTERRA Tahiti Elite Winners
Year – Men’s Champ/Women’s Champ
2017 – Sam Osborne/Jacqui Allen
2016 – Josiah Middaugh/Lesley Paterson
2015 – Brice Daubord/Sarah Backler