Hayden Wilde from New Zealand, fresh off his bronze medal-winning performance at the Tokyo Olympics, will race the 25th XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on December 5, 2021.
For Wilde, who won the u19 division XTERRA world titles in 2015 & 2016, returning to Maui will be a homecoming of sorts.
“XTERRA is where I started my triathlon career, it got me into the sport and made me the athlete I am today so to have this opportunity to hang the road bike up for a few months and go back to the Island, it’s a dream come true,” said Wilde, who did his first-ever triathlon at XTERRA Rotorua in 2015.
“I’ve always wanted to return to Maui, it really feels like I’m headed back home where the journey all began. And I always told myself when I left the XTERRA scene to chase the ITU and Olympic dream that after Tokyo I would go back to Maui that year and do the triple … Olympics, ITU World Champs, and XTERRA Worlds.”
In Maui, Wilde will have the chance to join a truly elite collection of triathletes to have won both an Olympic medal and an XTERRA World Championship.
The short list of legends to do both include Australia’s Michellie Jones (1996 XTERRA World Champ, 2000 silver medalist), Spain’s Javier Gomez (2012 XTERRA World Champ, 2012 silver medalist), Bermuda’s Flora Duffy (5x XTERRA World Champ, 2020 gold medalist), and New Zealand’s Hamish Carter (2006 XTERRA World Champ, 2004 gold medalist).
“It’s a very exciting opportunity to race Maui as an elite, and to take home the world title would be a HUGE deal for me personally,” exclaimed Wilde. “I work a lot with Hamish at home as he is heavily involved around triathlon in New Zealand, but the Kiwi I really want to race is Sam Osborne. I did some training with Sammy back home as we only live 40 mins away and we love giving each other some banter. He’s one of the guys I grew up watching race pro XTERRA, and I’d love to race the guy again because we have some unfinished business.”
Osborne won the last meeting between the two at the 2018 XTERRA New Zealand Championships.
“Yeah, he won, and I was fifth. I had an unlucky crash on the top section of the course and went down pretty hard, ha-ha, and I can tell you the body did not appreciate it for the rest of the race,” recalls Wilde. “This time will be different, so if Sam can make it to Maui, he'll have to try and hold on in the water and the run.”
Perhaps the bigger question is … can Wilde hold on during the mountain bike?
“Not going to lie, it has been a minute since I’ve been on a mountain bike,” he said. “I was so focused on Tokyo, I hardly went on, so for the next two months it’ll be really important for me get the feelings back on my Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper 29er so I can make for some exciting racing.”