Rom Akerson from Costa Rica and Erika Simon from Argentina captured the XTERRA Argentina off-road triathlon elite titles with winning times of 2:47:01 and 3:57:05, respectively, on a beautiful day for racing in San Juan, Argentina on Saturday, March 23, 2019.
For Akerson, the reigning XTERRA World Champion, the days’ adventure started well before the race did. His bike was lost in transit by the airlines on Thursday and didn’t arrive into Mendoza, which is two hours away, until 2am this morning.
“I hired a car service to go get my bike at the airport and tried to get some sleep,” said Akerson. “It arrived around 6:30am and I started to put it together, and just barely made it to the race site in time. I got to transition 10 minutes before it closed, racked my bike, ran down to the beach, did a quick jog, put my goggles on, and went at it.”
And his crazy day rolled on from there. The swim was longer than anticipated, at roughly 2-kilometers, but Akerson still managed to come first out of the water, with last year’s Argentina winner Kieran McPherson about 30-seconds back.
“And then I took off on my bike and went the wrong way. I turned around and saw Kieran hauling ass in the other direction and started chasing him,” explained Akerson, who was riding blind all day as he hadn’t had the chance to pre-ride the course.
“So, I caught up to Kieran and passed him, went another 300 yards and went the wrong way again and I’m up on this hill and hear Kieran yelling at me to come back so then I’m running through the bushes with my bike trying to get back on course. It was comical. After that I just stayed with Kieran for the rest of the first lap. It wasn’t until the second lap, when I kind of knew where I was going, that I was able to open it up a little bit.”
Akerson came into the bike-to-run transition with about a two-minute lead on McPherson, but knew he had his work cut out for him as the Kiwi is one of the fastest runners on tour.
“He’s superfast so I knew the day wasn’t over,” said Akerson. “I took off running hard and was looking around for him but didn’t see anything and felt like I had it solid, then a couple kilometers before the finish I look back and he’s 100 yards behind me. I thought he was going to catch me so just went all out to the finish from there.”
McPherson, who was coming from cold weather training in Colorado and racing his first XTERRA since Utah last September, said the day went well all things considered.
“I was a little rusty today and it took me a while to get into a rhythm on the bike, but it felt good to get back to racing” said the defending XTERRA Pan Am Tour Champion.
Both McPherson and Akerson said they wiped out a bunch of times on the bike. The course, which is reminiscent of the desert setting at XTERRA Lake Las Vegas, is comprised mostly of dirt bike trails that wind through very hilly terrain with lots of banked corners, sandy washes, and whoopty-woos.
“It’s really sandy, with sections of hard packed flowy sections, and if you go too fast into a corner, or take even a slightly wrong line, over the handlebars you go,” said McPherson, who came in with cut up knees and arms. “That’s just the nature of the game, and it’s still good fun. The harder you go the more technical it gets and when you’re riding at your limit like that on sand and gravel, crashes happen.”
McPherson posted the fastest run of the day and crossed the line 44-seconds behind Akerson in second place.
“It’s always frustrating to come in second but considering it’s against the World Champ, I can’t be too disappointed,” he said.
Those two will get another chance to square off next weekend at XTERRA Chile, but for now will soak up the fabulous atmosphere in Argentina.
Three-time XTERRA Brazil Champ Felipe Moletta finished third, with Alex Roberts in fourth and Alejandro Bulacio in fifth.
“This is an amazing place with super cool people,” said Akerson. “The area is really nice, and the course was awesome, I just wish I could’ve ridden it more.”
San Juan, a 90-minute flight from Buenos Aires, is surrounded by two magnificent mountain ranges that reach heights of six thousand meters above sea level and is famous for its Malbec wine and superb cuisine.
Pl Name, Country Pts Final
1 Rom Akerson, CRC 75 2:47:01
2 Kieran McPherson, NZL 67 2:47:45
3 Felipe Moletta, BRA 61 2:54:35
4 Alex Roberts, NZL 56 2:58:23
5 Alejandro Bulacio, ARG 51 2:59:30
6 Lucas Mendez, ARG 47 3:03:59
7 Will Ross, USA 43 3:05:52
8 Rafael Juriti, BRA 39 3:06:00
9 Alex Rhodes, GBR 36 3:10:29
Pl Name, Country Pts Final
1 Erika Simon, ARG 75 3:57:05
2 Laura Mira Dias, BRA 67 4:10:12
In the women’s race local road triathlon star Erika Simon conquered the grueling 2.1K swim, 30K mountain bike, and 14K trail run in just under four hours.
“That was so hard,” said Simon, who was racing in just her second-ever XTERRA. “I spend most of my time on the road doing 70.3 and full-distance tris so the mountain bike is difficult for me but what fun.”
Long-time XTERRA elite Laura Mira from Brazil was first out of the water and had the fastest bike split of the day to take the lead heading out on to the run but couldn’t hold on.
“I think I caught Laura about half-way through the run,” said Simon. “I’m so excited for this win, very happy, I love this race. The view is beautiful, and the organization is great. Now I have to go home and look at my race calendar and see what I will do next.”
Mira finished second, about 10-minutes back.
XTERRA Argentina was the first of 10-stops on the 2019 XTERRA Pan American Tour, which continues next week (March 31 race day) in Santiago, Chile with many of the same protagonists in the elite field.
The XTERRA Pan American Tour features Gold and Silver level events, where Gold events award points on a 100-point basis and Silver races award points on a 75-point basis. The XTERRA Pan American Championship race in Utah on September 7, 2019 will offer $20,000 USD for the race and distribute an additional $60,000 USD in prize money to the top 10 men and women in the final XTERRA Pan American Pro Series rankings.
Learn more at xterraplanet.com.
All-time XTERRA Argentina Elite Race Champions
Year Elite Winners
2007 Oscar Galindez / Maria Soldedad
2016 Josiah Middaugh / Myriam Guillot-Boisset
2017 Gonzalo Tellechea / Suzie Snyder
2018 Kieran McPherson / Fabiola Corona
2019 Rom Akerson / Erika Simon
XTERRA World Championship Qualifying Series Schedule
XTERRA Argentina was the third of 30 races around the world where amateur athletes could qualify for XTERRA Worlds.
Up Next: XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Kenting, Taiwan
Date Race / Location - Winners
24-Feb XTERRA South Africa - Brad Weiss/Hayley Preen
9-Mar XTERRA Motatapu / Flavio Vianna/Emma Weston
23-Mar XTERRA Argentina / Rom Akerson/Erika Simon
30-Mar XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship + GOLD / Kenting, TW
31-Mar XTERRA Chile # Silver / San Bernardo, Santiago
6-Apr XTERRA New Zealand + Silver / Rotorua
7-Apr XTERRA Cyprus * Silver / Akamas
21-Apr XTERRA Greece * Silver / Vouliagmeni
11-May XTERRA Brazil # GOLD / Ilhabela
18-May XTERRA Oak Mountain # GOLD / Pelham, Alabama, USA
18-May XTERRA Malta * Silver / Majjistral Nature Reserve
26-May XTERRA Italy - Lake Garda * Silver / Toscolano
31-May XTERRA Tahiti + Silver / Moorea
1-Jun XTERRA Portugal * Silver / Golega
8-Jun XTERRA Belgium * Silver / Namur
16-Jun XTERRA Denmark * Silver / Aarhus
29-Jun XTERRA Switzerland * Silver / Vallee de Joux
7-Jul XTERRA France * GOLD / Xonrupt
7-Jul XTERRA Victoria # Silver / Victoria, B.C., Canada
14-Jul XTERRA Quebec # Silver / Quebec City, QC, Canada
20-Jul XTERRA Beaver Creek # GOLD / Beaver Creek, CO, USA
21-Jul XTERRA Italy - Scanno * GOLD / Abruzzo
3-Aug XTERRA Mexico # GOLD / Tapalpa
3-Aug XTERRA European Championship * GOLD / Prachatice, Czech Republic
4-Aug XTERRA Conquer the Crater / Sudbury, ON, Canada
17-Aug XTERRA Germany * GOLD / Zittau
18-Aug XTERRA Canmore / Alberta, Canada
24-Aug XTERRA Sleeping Giant / Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
25-Aug XTERRA Hawaii Island / Hapuna, Big Island
1-Sep XTERRA Dominican Republic # Silver / Samana
1-Sep XTERRA Luxembourg * Silver / Rosport
14-Sep XTERRA Netherlands * Silver / Ameland Island
07-Sep XTERRA Pan Am / USA Championship # GOLD / Ogden, Utah, USA
15-Sep XTERRA Japan * Silver / Marunuma
22-Sep XTERRA Kunming + GOLD / Yunnan Province, China
22-Sep XTERRA Altifort (Long Distance) / Megeve, France
27-Sep XTERRA Korea / Wonju City
28-Oct XTERRA World Championship / Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii