Two of the most adventure-worthy destinations on the world tour – Samana in the Dominican Republic and Victoria, B.C., in Canada, play host to XTERRA World Championship qualifying races this Sunday, September 5, 2021.
This weekend in the Caribbean, the white sand beaches and tropical rainforests on the northeastern Atlantic coast of the Dominican Republic welcome 2018 XTERRA World Champion Rom Akerson (CRC), 2018 XTERRA Pan Am Tour Champ Kieran McPherson, and 2017 ITU Cross Tri World Champion Francisco Serrano (MEX) and more for what’s sure to be an epic showdown featuring some of the sports’ biggest stars.
“Really excited to come back, not only to XTERRA but triathlon in general, it's been almost two years since my last triathlon,” said Serrano, who finished runner-up to Lionel Sanders at IM 70.3 Los Cabos in his last triathlon in 2019.
“There's been lots of ups and downs with the pandemic, but gratefully we are all in good health,” he shared. “I’ve been focused a little more on the bike as there were more bike races happening and it’s easier to train for, but have really missed the triathlon world, and am happy to see XTERRA working its way through the pandemic realities.”
Beyond just the race, Serrano said he’s excited to visit the Dominican Republic for the first time.
“I've heard it’s beautiful and I like racing on the beach and at sea level, so really looking forward it.”
Sunday’s race is headquartered on the golden sand beaches of Coson Bay, one of the most pristine shorelines in all of Las Terrenas, and highly acclaimed for its turquoise blue waters surrounded by coconut trees and tropical jungles typical of the Central Cordillera Region.
Second-year U.S. elite Humberto Rivera said he's just hoping to keep his nerves in check this weekend.
“XTERRA Oak Mountain back in May was my first race after a two-year layoff due to hand surgery, then COVID, so I was really nervous for that one. I felt like a rookie and got overly excited, crashed three times on the bike, but at the end of the day I was happy to be back racing. And I’m pumped for Samana! I’ll be celebrating my 32nd birthday in this beautiful country and the organizers have been so generous and helpful, I can’t wait!”
In the women’s race Brandi Swicegood has been training in the Texas heat to prepare for the heat and humidity, but she’ll also have some heavy competition to contend with in Valentina Carvallho, the 2019 XTERRA Chile Champion.
“Ready as I can be,” said Swicegood, who last raced at XTERRA Cameron Park in June. “The game plan is to race hard and smart, and the goal is to win. I’ll give it all I’ve got, and I’m very excited to head back to the DR. I visited for a vacation almost a decade ago, and it is beautiful.”
Also on Sunday, the 2019 XTERRA Dominican Republic men’s elite champion, Karsten Madsen, will be racing for the XTERRA Victoria off-road triathlon title.
“Victoria offers up some great dirt to rip it up in! It’s a trusting dirt in wet conditions, allowing you to rail turns, slip on the roots, and wait for the dirt to grip you again,” explained Madsen. “Stunning views and amazing things to do pre and post-race as well, and I’m looking forward to seeing my XTERRA friends again.”
One competitor he won’t see is fellow elite, Nathan Killam, who won’t be able to race this week after crashing his road bike into a bear a few weeks ago, suffering a broken nose, tooth, and lots of road rash (read about on his FB page).
On the women’s side Amanda Felder, who placed 2nd at XTERRA Oak Mountain and 3rd at XTERRA Beaver Creek this year, is excited to face off against uber-mountain biker Katie Button and Lindsay Glassford.
“I'm feeling good and confident,” said Felder. “I traveled to Victoria in early August and have been training here since. I've been able to spend quite a bit of time on the XTERRA course, which has been extremely helpful. I've also gotten in some good sessions with my coach, Mel McQuaid, so I'm looking forward to showing that fitness this weekend.