The 2019 XTERRA Pan American Tour heads to the mountains of Jalisco and the charming town of Tapalpa for the 12th annual XTERRA Mexico off-road triathlon on Saturday, August 3, 2019.
It’s the eighth of 10 stops on the Pan Am Tour and has attracted some of the best off-road triathletes on the XTERRA Planet, including the reigning XTERRA World Champ Rom Akerson of Costa Rica.
Akerson won the first two races on the Tour this season at XTERRA Argentina and XTERRA Chile, however, he will be facing his toughest challenge of the season so far in Mexico.
The elite men’s contenders include two-time XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champion Sam Osborne of New Zealand who has won four races this year – XTERRA Brazil, Oak Mountain, Victoria, and New Zealand. Osborne sits atop the leader board in the Pan Am Tour standings and is itching for another shot against one of the best athletes in the sport.
“It’s exciting to see Rom come out of hiding for this one and I’m looking forward to lining up next to him,” said Osborne, who finished third behind Akerson and South African Bradley Weiss at last year’s XTERRA World Championship. “I think a few of us have been waiting to go up against him here on the Tour and have a good old battle.”
On July 20, Osborne had a ‘good old battle’ against the reigning Pan Am Champ Josiah Middaugh at high altitude at XTERRA Beaver Creek and came in second. Middaugh, of course, is at home in the mountains and won XTERRA Mexico last year but is not on the start list this year.
“I’m feeling good and have recovered well since Beaver Creek,” said Osborne.
“I got straight back into my routine here in Boulder and feel ready to go again. My game plan is there is no plan. I think the race could go several different ways, the weather could change things a lot and it could be a slippery affair. There are no bad swimmers from the hitters this weekend and how that will affect things who knows. It could be a tactical game, or it could be all on from the gun. I think having no clear way you want the race to unfold is best, just need to play the men around you.”
Karsten Madsen, Canada’s fastest XTERRA racer, is fresh off posting the fastest run and a third place showing at XTERRA Beaver Creek two weeks ago.
“I’ve been good since Beaver Creek, had some time to work on high end threshold and clean up some other aspects of my race,” said Madsen, who finished seventh at XTERRA Worlds and third at XTERRA Mexico last year.
“Last year I had the fastest run in Mexico and based on Beaver I'm primed to do it again. I’m racing about seven pounds lighter this year and it has been netting me great runs. Game plan is simple, respect the high elevation, pick your moments, and keep on the gas.”
XTERRA veteran Branden Rakita from the U.S. is having a solid season and sits fourth on the Pan Am Tour standings and knows this track well.
“XTERRA Mexico is a great race, Tapalpa is truly a magical place,” said Rakita. “I love the very low-key vibe and really being out away from everything and able to disconnect. The racing will still be full on and I know everyone will be bringing their A game. With Sam, Karsten, Paco, and Rom, it will be a very fast race and may come down to who makes a mistake. Everyone is so solid all-around getting separation will be very difficult. Then you will have a few other Mexican athletes like Irving Perez and others that may show up so you can't just look at the normal names. All our game plans will be similar, stay in contact and take advantage of any mistakes and moments of weakness. We are all fighting to be the first to hear the Mariachi band at the finish!”
Francisco “Paco” Serrano from Monterrey, Mexico has heard that Mariachi band first at the finish on a few occasions, in 2006 when the race was held in Puerto Vallarta and in 2012 in Tapalpa and is not far removed from winning the 2017 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship.
“Always happy to be racing XTERRA, and I’m going to do my best to take this race,” said Serrano, who represented Mexico at the 2018 Olympic Games. “I've been here at this race in Tapalpa every year, but I’ve only won it once, so that’s the goal.”
In the women’s elite race four of the top five ranked athletes on the XTERRA Pan Am Tour are on the start list, and that doesn’t even include 5x XTERRA Mexico Champ and hometown favorite Fabiola Corona.
“I’m ready for Saturday and excited to go home,” said Corona, who spent her childhood weekends running around the forests of Tapalpa.
“This week is the only time of the year I can spend with my dad, and my mom, sisters, and nephews also come to cheer us on, so I’m always grateful for XTERRA Mexico joining families! This place is wonderful, between the nature, hiking, climbing trees and mountains, jumping ramps on ATVs, playing outside when it was raining, collecting berries and orquideas, riding burros. It’s always been so much fun.”
As for the race itself, “It will be tough. My goal is to win, to die fighting for that,” exclaimed Corona.
The former Olympian will be up against XTERRA’s best from the Pan Am Tour, including points leader Samantha Kingsford from New Zealand, who has won at XTERRA Brazil and Victoria this year.
“I feel like I’ve bounced back from Beaver Creek better than I had after Victoria, and have stayed healthy which has helped with everything,” said Kingsford.
“This is another altitude race, not quite as high as Beaver Creek, but hopefully I’ll be able to take the learnings from two weeks ago and come out with a better performance in Mexico, and it’s fun to adventure to another new and exciting place to go and race.”
Suzie Snyder from the U.S. is ranked second in the Tour but has won two races against Kingsford in head-to-head battles this year at XTERRA Oak Mountain and Beaver Creek.
“I’m definitely ready for Mexico. Ever since I broke myself there in 2016, I go into this race knowing that it may have gotten the best of me once, but I will conquer it this time, and every time after,” said Snyder, the reigning XTERRA U.S. Champ.
“I think it’s a good course for me because it’s a little rough and I feel like I can really use my strength and power there. I always like a challenging course and tough competition, which Samantha has been giving me this year, and Fabiola always puts up a good fight as well, so I’m looking forward to lining up this weekend. To keep the wins coming I’m going with a similar strategy as in Beaver Creek, since there is a bit of altitude in Tapalpa, I need to swim in control, steadily pick it up on the bike and ride technically clean, then run like a pack of angry wolves is chasing me.”
The field also feature third-ranked Laura Mira from Brazil and the XTERRA Chile Champ Valentina Carvallo from Chile.
Learn more about the XTERRA Pan Am Tour.
ALL-TIME XTERRA MEXICO CHAMPIONS
2018 (Tapalpa) Josiah Middaugh, Fabiola Corona
2017 (Tapalpa) Josiah Middaugh, Suzie Snyder
2016 (Tapalpa) Rom Akerson, Suzie Snyder
2015 (Tapalpa) Josiah Middaugh, Fabiola Corona
2014 (Tapalpa) Irving Perez, Fabiola Corona
2013 (Tapalpa) Leonardo Chacon, Fabiola Corona
2012 (Tapalpa) Francisco Serrano, Renata Bucher
2011 (Tapalpa) Seth Wealing, Shonny Vanlandingham
2010 (Valle de Bravo) Seth Wealing, Fabiola Corona
2009 (Valle de Bravo) Seth Wealing, Shonny Vanlandingham
2006 (Puerto Vallarta) Francisco Serrano, Jamie Whitmore