The 2019 XTERRA World Championship Qualifying Series schedule boasts 39 events in 29 countries, each providing athletes with an opportunity to qualify for Maui.
First up is the fabled XTERRA South Africa Championship race at the Grabouw Country Club just outside of Cape Town.
Home to XTERRA Hall of Famers Conrad Stoltz and Dan Hugo, as well as present-day icon Brad Weiss, the event sits atop the global depth chart in participation, quality, and character. On February 24, as has been tradition for much of the past 16 years since its inception in 2004, South Africa is where 2019 XTERRA Adventures begin.
“We’re thrilled to have XTERRA South Africa kick off the 2019 XTERRA World Tour racing schedule,” said XTERRA President, Janet Clark. “They live and breathe XTERRA in South Africa. It’s where champions are made and honored and for our international community, it’s a true destination race. A place where you can experience African drummers welcome you out of the water and to the finish line, then go on a Safari adventure the next day.”
The experience is especially tempting for those from the Northern hemisphere, where it’s freezing in February. In South Africa it’s summertime and the weather is wonderful.
“And the organization is world-class,” continued Clark. “Michael Meyer and his team are the best in the business, create magnificent racing routes, and welcome athletes both young and old, from first-timers to world champs.”
The main event mixes a 1.5K swim with a 26K mountain bike and 12K trail run, but XTERRA South Africa is just as famous for its kids race, sprint race, and relay team competitions that accommodate and entertain thousands of off-road triathletes and their families.
“We’ve had 15 magnificent years of hosting XTERRA in South Africa and are extremely proud of the fact that for the past couple of years XTERRA SA has donned the crown of largest XTERRA in the world,” said Michael Meyer, Managing Director Stillwater Sports. “We are thankful for the support received both from local and international XTERRA Warriors, and together with our existing sponsors and partners (whom we appreciate immensely) we look forward to welcoming each and every entrant to the 2019 XTERRA Grabouw for an off-road adventure like no other.”
XTERRA has become an annual event for locals like Tommie Kruger, Ryal de Waal and Francois Groenewald, with each person completing one leg of the triathlon.
Next month Kruger, 59, will start the race with the 1.5km swim. “I started swimming in high school when I joined the swimming squad at Paarl Boys High,” says Kruger. “I am not much of a cyclist or a runner. By entering as part of a team I can be part of XTERRA, while doing something that I like. I love the absolute madness at the start of the swim. We once came second in the men’s team category and we’d like to improve on this.”
Kruger will hand the baton over to de Waal, 53, who will take on the +-25.6km MTB discipline. “I got to know Tommie when I started spearfishing off of his boat,” says de Waal. “I knew that he was a good swimmer and suggested that we should enter XTERRA as a team. He said that he knew someone in Grabouw who was a good runner. The rest is history. I like XTERRA because I enjoy the “off-road” stuff. XTERRA’s MTB course is always challenging and because of the “shorter” distance, it is always flat box from the start which makes it a hard but rewarding ride. The single tracks in Grabouw are always in good shape and great fun.”
Groenewald, 32, will take on the final leg of XTERRA which is a +-12.4km trail run. “No one should miss out on a world class event, especially if it is in your home town,” says Groenewald. “XTERRA’s trail run course is tough but rewarding. When aiming to run 4-minute kilometers the terrain awakens in front of you full of quick turns, sharp climbs and soft sand. Entering as part of a team definitely adds excitement to the race, while sharing the experience with friends just makes it extra special.”
Equally as special is watching the kids go.
“The XTERRA Kids Race is always the source of much excitement,” says Meyer. “It is heartwarming to see moms, dads, grandparents and siblings supporting the junior XTERRA warriors from start to finish. In 2019 the event will be hosted on the Saturday after the XTERRA Lite which means junior XTERRA Warriors (whose parents will take part in the XTERRA Lite) will get to watch mom and dad in action before experiencing the fun themselves. We look forward to hosting two fun-filled days for the entire family out in Grabouw.”
Weiss, the 2017 XTERRA World Champ, grew up around XTERRA and is now chasing the dream as a professional and racing around the world. Still, home is where his heart is.
“Having family and friends on the side line is something I truly love, making it a really special race for me,” said Weiss, the reigning XTERRA South Africa Champ. “Having the opportunity to race for them is amazing. Plus, XTERRA Grabouw is the largest XERRA in the world with one of the most demanding bike courses. It’s the perfect race to start off the season.”
Learn more at xterraplanet.com.