"I had some great experiences in South America when I went, meeting great people at the races and doing touristy stuff to enjoy the destination,” said former Pan Am Tour women’s champ Suzie Snyder.
The region is famous for its breathtaking sights, inexpensive living, delicious local food and fabulous Argentinian Malbec and Chilean Cabernet.
Up first is the fourth-annual XTERRA Argentina off-road triathlon on March 23 just outside of San Juan, a major metropolis of 700,000 citizens near the base of the Andes Mountains. As the southern hemisphere heads into autumn temperatures are mild, humidity is low, the scenery is spectacular, and for sure the racing will be fast.
The main event features a 1500-meter swim in Lake Ullum followed by a 30km mountain bike segment, and 9.5km trail run. The trails are primarily hard, packed earth and rocks, due to the arid environment, and the mountain bike course includes several technical sections, including an 1800-meter climb out of a dry riverbed followed by a quick drop.
The XTERRA event is part of a three-day race festival, which includes open water swims, trail races, and a 50K mountain bike race.
“The venue for XTERRA Argentina is unique and fun, but also demanding,” explained XTERRA elite Branden Rakita. “The swim is in a beautiful lake and my guess is the water is right around 70-degrees and a great way to cool off with the warm days leading up to the race. The bike is very different from XTERRA Chile which has long grinding climbs. In Argentina they are short and punchy. Most of the track moto's ride on and so there are a lot of whoop sections you are pumping the bike through and it twists and turns through the valleys and dry river and creek beds.”
On March 30 the Tour travels to San Bernardo near Santiago, Chile. XTERRA Chile is the second of 11 events in eight different countries on the 2019 Tour. Just like Argentina, it’s a Silver event, offering 26 qualifying spots into Maui for the top amateurs in each division along with points and prize money for elites.
The main event features a 1500-meter swim in the lagoon “Lago Maipo” followed by a 30km mountain bike segment, and 10km trail run. The trails are primarily hard, packed earth and rocks, due to the arid environment, and the mountain bike course includes several technical sections, including an 1800-meter climb out of a dry riverbed followed by a quick drop.
“Chile was one of the most beautiful races I’ve ever done, also one of the hardest,” said last year’s women’s elite winner Allison Baca after the race. “I had such a blast enjoying the views and the mountains. It was great organization, great crew. I’m so excited to go back.”
2018 XTERRA Pan Am Tour Champ Kieran McPherson agreed, saying “The course is beautiful. It’s at an awesome private lake with great facilities all around. The mountain bike course is incredible. The climbs are very steep, very hard, and the descents are technical and fun. On the run, it starts flat and you feel like you are flying and then you get to that first big climb and wonder where your legs have gone.
Learn more about the 2019 XTERRA Pan America Tour at xterraplanet.com.