The 13th edition of XTERRA France will take place July 7, 2019 in Xonrupt. While it’s the ninth race on the XTERRA European Tour, it’s the first Gold-level event so we’ll see the sports’ biggest stars racing on the grandest stage in front of the most raucous crowds.
XTERRA France is a spectacle to behold, and the organization goes all-out with beautiful man-made wooden bridges and finishes arches. Just one look at the pictures and videos from past years is enough to both entice and intimidate XTERRA racers from around the world.
To tell us a little about the travel, a lot about the course, and even give a few France specific training tips, we turn to Christopher Dupre, an up-and-coming who finished third in the 25-29 division at XTERRA Worlds last year.
The race takes place in Les Vosges in the village of Xonrupt, close to Gerardmer in the northeast of France. It’s an event for all French triathletes and mountain bikers who like cross triathlon and XTERRA. This is a race that as an XTERRA athlete you must do at some point in your life.
Mullhouse and Bale Airports are 90-minutes away by car, and with Paris just over four hours away this race is easy to get to for most of Europe. Whilst you can stay in Xonrupt, Gerardmer offers far more hotels, camping, and Airbnb accommodations.
The swim is in a beautiful lake in the middle of the forest. Swimming in the lake in the days before the race is a big pleasure, the water temperature never goes below 18°C but with some good weather in the month prior, the swim can become warm enough for non-wetsuit. The start of the race in this lake, however, is very busy! All age groups and genders start together with around 1,000 swimmers fighting for space at the start. If you are not a confident swimmer then its best to place yourself towards the back or sides to find some clear water.
There is a short run to transition from the lake, so you will have some time to recover before tackling one of the longest mountain bike loops on the world tour: 40km across two loops with 1200 meters of uphill in total. If its dry then it can be a fast course, but if its muddy, it can quickly turn into perhaps the most difficult of bike rides. When you return to the arena each lap, you’ll be greeted by the infamous XTERRA France ramps. As you navigate your way around the wooden creations the whole town of Xonrupt will be out to see if you can stay upright! The cut off time for the bike is 4hours 45mins after the race start.
My best tip would be to bring some mud tires in case the weather is bad.
After completing the bike leg, you are now faced with a tough run leg. While there isn’t a big climb, there are lots of ups and downs to disrupt the rhythm on a technical trail through the forest with mud, roots, holes, logs, etc… Be careful with your ankles, and save some energy for the second half of the run, which is flat and fast alongside the lake.
The vibes in Xonrupt are some of the best on the circuit with a lot of spectators along the course. We are not far from Belgium so many of them make the trip, especially to play loud music on the first climb of the run. The weekend events will host around 2,000 participants across the XTERRA races, Swimrun, and Gravel races. When you cross the line in France you will truly become an XTERRA warrior!
Here are my suggestions for training for XTERRA France:
Develop your ability to start fast.
400m choice swimming
10 x [25m sprint / 25m headup / waterpolo] + 30secs rest
200m choice swimming
Complete a long ride with approximately 45-60mins of uphill riding included. Aim to ride at 80% of your maximum heart rate on the climbs and taking the flat and downhill steady.
Practice running on technical terrain with tired legs, perhaps complete off the bike as a brick session at the end of a week of training to replicate the tiredness your legs will feel in the race.
Because of the length of the race, the nutrition you use will be very important. Ensure you bring enough of it and a way to carry it all safely without losing any in the forest!
Have a good race!
All-time XTERRA France Elite Champions:
Year Men's Champ Women's Champ Site
2006 Cedric Fleureton Renata Bucher Saint Raphael
2008 Nicolas Lebrun Renata Bucher Auron
2008 Nicolas Lebrun Renata Bucher Mondelieu
2010 Nicolas Lebrun Marion Lorblanchet Xonrupt
2011 Victor Del Corral Renata Bucher Xonrupt
2012 Asa Shaw Helena Erbenova Xonrupt
2013 Nicolas Lebrun Helena Erbenova Xonrupt
2014 Ruben Ruzafa Kathrin Mueller Xonrupt
2015 Ruben Ruzafa Kathrin Mueller Xonrupt
2016 Ruben Ruzafa Lesley Paterson Xonrupt
2017 Ruben Ruzafa Laura Philipp Xonrupt
2018 Ruben Ruzafa Brigitta Poor Xonrupt