On July 15, 2020, XTERRA threw down a 30-day challenge to circle the earth dubbed the “Rally Around XTERRA Planet” Challenge. The mission was to join together as a community to race around the world and raise money to help with COVID-19.
Not only did the XTERRA Family rise to the challenge, they absolutely crushed it. Thousands of challengers, families, and teams from 56 countries united to swim, skip, bike, hike, paddle, and push strollers 239,413 kilometers – enough mileage to circumnavigate the planet almost six times.
One man stood out above all the rest, and that man was Chris Jepson. From his base camp in Dundee on the spectacular eastern coast of Scotland, Jepson cycled 2,099km through small villages and past castles dating back to the 16th century. He also logged more than 81,000-feet of climbing up the rolling green hills of the countryside.
"The highlights of the challenge for me were getting back outside with teammates and breaking a personal-best on a brutal climb (Kenmore) here in Scotland,” exclaimed Jepson, the RAXP Challenge men's champion who will turn 51-years-young this Sunday, August 23, proving age is but a number.
“Lockdown really allowed me to work on my climbing, and according to my Strava I pushed up almost 82 thousand feet during the 30 days,” said Jepsen. “It was a lot of fun, and congratulations to everyone who took part. It felt great to belong again after the shock of life under lockdown.”
Jepson was also the MVP of the RAXP team champs, Race Off Road out of the UK, whose 29 members recorded an incredible 16,258km with 468 daily entries.
"I'm simply amazed at how our UK off-roaders banded together to face a somewhat different challenge than what they are used to,” said Race Off-Road team leader and XTERRA Elite, Doug Hall. “While nothing will replace pinning a number on and hitting a start line with XTERRA, covering 16,258 kilometers is simply a phenomenal achievement the whole team should be proud of."
Indeed, all 76 registered teams from across the globe should be proud. The Italians from Team Garda Lake K3 went more than 15,000km, and the fabulous Fabiola Corona guided Team Mexico to more than 8,500km.
“Now we’re celebrating with a big party, tequila, mariachis, Tapalpa-style,” exclaimed Corona.
Yarra Tri finished fourth in the team challenge and it’s no surprise that 2015 XTERRA World Champ Josiah Middaugh’s coaching team made it into the top five with more than 5,500km.
The XTERRA China team took their kilometers to a whole new level by adding plogging into the mix. Plogging is when you combine jogging with picking up trash, so they effectively cleaned and cared for 2,000+ kilometers of earth along their journey.
XTERRA’s technology partners at Phase 2, the team who built the leaderboard feature for the challenge, embraced it as an employee initiative to get outside and move, actively participating and logging 3,000 kilometers with 358 daily entries throughout the month.
“This human-powered initiative pulled us away from our televisions, Zoom calls, garage gyms, or general couch-potato-ing. It allowed us the opportunity to break the bad habits we’ve succumbed to during “stay at home” mandates and re-instill the healthy ones that have been enjoyed for years prior to the pandemic,” said Emily White, the vice president of marketing at Phase 2. “A healthy connection to others in our neighborhood, state, country, and around the world is just what we needed.”
The kids from the Forte Triathlon Club in Minnesota rallied their way through 1,683km, proving that Fortnite isn’t the only game in town.
Another squad worthy of recognition was the TriTandem Physically Challenged team led by Pepe Candon, an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician in the Spanish Marines who lost his eyesight in action but not his Live More spirit.
“We want to show others with disabilities that they don’t have to give up their dreams,” said Candon. “By competing in XTERRA, I want to demonstrate that if your mind can do it, the body will follow. What we discovered was that XTERRA wasn’t just a goal but a way of life and a family to which we belong to and that loves us back.”
RAXP also had an unofficial “All-Name” category for the team competition, and the six-way tie for first was shared by Team “We Got Locked Down, But Got Up Again,” Team “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at The Time,” the “Pleasant Pheasant Pluckers,” the “Betty Baller Squad,” Team "Laramigos" - who are amigos from Laramie, WY, and “The Salt River Minions” - an all-paddling group out of Arizona.
“We had so much fun with this challenge, even our crew got into it,” said XTERRA President Janet Clark. “Renata Buchers’ Aloha Racing team and Nico Lebrun’s Organicoach squad put up big miles, and our digital guru Brian Hoven logged nearly a 1,000km with his wife and kids to finish in the top 10 of the family division. That’s part of what made this such a hoot, all our people coming together for this cause. I’m beaming with pride.”
There were 54 families who got active with the RAXP Challenge, but nobody did it better than the MM Outdoor Ohana featuring Moises Monreal, his wife Magda, daughter Marilyn, and son Moises Jr. Over 29 days the four of them went swam, bike, and ran 2,625km to win the family division.
"We are very happy for this achievement together. We all focused on being active and accumulating as many kilometers as possible once we noticed there was a weekly ranking and we were in the top three families. We only rested one day, and all the others we were at full speed on the bike, it was a great challenge to keep us motivated and we are very happy," said Moises Monreal.
In the individual women’s chase, Filomena Gomes from Portugal led almost the whole way and ended up with 1,551-kilometers.
“My favorite part of the Rally was realizing even though there are no events at all, this is my way of life. I'm not awesome, I just love to train and be active, and I was happy to be part of this challenge which also helped with COVID-19 around the world,” said Gomes.
And, last but not least, the best human-powered mode of movement award went to the man that won more XTERRA World Tour majors than anyone last year, Sam Osborne, who rolly-polly’d his way around Rotorua (see it here).