Champion Triathlete Timothy O'Donnell to Race at XTERRA Québec
April 30, 2024
Key Points:
Timothy O'Donnell (USA) / 2023 XTERRA World Cup / Beaver Creek

The XTERRA Community is pleased to announce that Timothy O’Donnell (USA) will participate in the fifth stop of the 2024 XTERRA World Cup. The event will take place in Canada on July 14, 2024, at XTERRA Québec, featuring the world’s top off-road triathletes.

Timothy O’Donnell, born on October 1, 1980, in Shavertown, Pennsylvania, is a prominent American triathlete. O'Donnell's record includes victories in the ITU Long Distance World Championship in 2009, along with numerous podium finishes at major global events. Notably, he has been the top American finisher several times at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, where he has earned multiple top placements.

In March 2021, O'Donnell suffered a heart attack during the Miami Challenge triathlon. He quickly recovered after receiving medical intervention and returned to competition in 2022, demonstrating resilience and commitment to the sport.

Timothy O'Donnell (USA) and Keller Norland (USA) / 2023 XTERRA World Cup / Beaver Creek

Embracing new challenges with XTERRA, he remarked, “XTERRA had always been on my triathlon bucket list, but my dedication to Kona always kept me away.” After participating in the 2023 XTERRA USA Championship during the inaugural series of the XTERRA World Cup in Beaver Creek, Colorado, he shared, "I think the cool thing about XTERRA, it's just a different environment than I'm used to in triathlon. It's a different atmosphere and it takes the edge off a bit to challenge myself in a different way honestly."

Reflecting on his career motivations, O'Donnell noted, "That's why I got into triathlon 21 years ago, to challenge myself and now to do it in a different way is pretty cool. It's such a different animal and it's humbling being out there with the best in the world. I learned so much just watching the guys out there."

After a serious health scare, O’Donnell's perspective shifted: “After my heart attack, I realized life is short so we need to live it up." As he returns to XTERRA, O’Donnell, along with his wife and fellow triathlete, Mirinda Carfrae and their three children, will be welcomed by a community and festive atmosphere that XTERRA events are known for, celebrating both his legendary career and his ongoing contributions to the sport.

Timothy O'Donnell (USA) / 2023 XTERRA World Cup / Beaver Creek

This year marks a decade of XTERRA events in Québec, elevating its status with a debut in the 2024 XTERRA World Cup Series as a highly competitive double-feature event. The action kicks off with the Short Track Race on July 12th, presenting a condensed format with the marquee Full Distance Race on July 14th, challenging athletes with a demanding course starting through Lac Delage, fast-flowing MTB singletracks, and rugged terrain capping off an intense trail run to finish. 

XTERRA recently caught up with Timothy O’Donnell to dive into his mindset and preparation ahead of XTERRA Québec.

XTERRA: What is involved in your preparation to race at XTERRA Québec?

TO: Let's just say the off-season has been long but I am excited for a big push to July! More so than fitness, I really need to work on my mountain biking skills. I definitely raced below my fitness level last year since I lacked the ability on the bike so if I can't get that down then it will be a long day. With that in mind, I plan to work with a specialist here in Boulder [Colorado] to work on the art of mountain biking this spring.

XT: How do you feel mentally and physically?

TO: Mentally and physically I feel great! I finally had a chance to let my mind and body rest after my last race in October last year and challenging myself in a new way with XTERRA has left me motivated, excited and a bit nervous.

XT: What's it going to take to be in game shape and ready to attack the field?

TO: It will take a lot to attack the field, but with my swim ability I hope to at least be in a good position to hang. I know how fit the guys are already so I don’t know how much attacking the field [it will be] for me, most likely hanging on for dear life.

XT: What do you think your strongest section will be in the race?

TO: The swim hands down will be my strongest section, unfortunately, it's the shortest!

XT: Do you have a race strategy you can share?

TO: My race strategy is to get out of the water in the lead group and then hang on as long as I can. Last year in Beaver Creek, I made sure to just not screw up anyone’s race and get out of the way on the bike. With a little better preparation, I hope to be able to make them work for it to get around me, haha!

XT: What inspires you and who motivates you to push and keep going?

TO: My motivations are much different at this point in my career. I’ve officially wrapped my IRONMAN racing career and I’m no longer chasing that big goal of being a World Champion. XTERRA is a new challenge and it’s that new challenge that really excites and motivates me. Sure, with XTERRA I am still competing in triathlon, but it’s so different and has its own unique complexities so I don’t have the same internal pressure on myself to win. I’m competing because I love it, I want to stay fit, active and healthy and I get to share the amazing journey with my family.

XT: What makes XTERRA Québec a special race for you or why did you choose this one?

TO: XTERRA Québec is an absolutely stunning location and I can’t wait to participate. The timing is great, both for giving me time to get fit but also for allowing me to bring the kids along during their summer break. I’ve usually raced well in Canada too so I am hoping that will help my chances.

XT: Which race is next for you after this one?

TO: I’m really excited to be competing in the S.O.S. Triathlon in September. It has been a bucket race for me for over two decades and I finally get to do it! I heard Italy is nice too, but one step at a time.

XT: Do you have any comments about competing against the top men in the XTERRA World Cup? 

TO: I’m absolutely humbled to compete with the other XTERRA World Cup guys, there are amazing athletes! At Beaver Creek last year, I felt like a spectator on the bike, watching them ride by me. It was a free lesson for me I guess! Sam Osborne (NZL) has been a good friend and training partner in the pool for years, although I think he held back some bike tips last year before Beaver Creek. Hopefully, he felt bad for me after my performance there and throws a few pointers my way this summer! I also loved racing with the next generation with guys like Sullivan [Middaugh] (USA) and Keller [Norland] (USA). I’m a big fan of USAT’s Project Podium so to see them kicking butt on the race course puts a smile on my face. They have very bright futures ahead of them!

Timothy O'Donnell (USA) / 2023 XTERRA World Cup / Beaver Creek

As XTERRA World Cup continues to grow, it brings together the past, present, and future of the sport, showcasing the evolving dynamics and enduring challenges of off-road triathlon for even the most accomplished athletes like Timothy O'Donnell.


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