With all borders open and international racing officially back on, Asia-Pacific’s premier off-road triathlon series is ready to return with some of the best trails on the circuit as local and international age group athletes can finally go head-to-head once again in a season-long race for the title of XTERRA Asia-Pacific Champion.
It’s been a difficult three years for any sort of racing in the APAC region, with restrictions and uncertainty surrounding almost every event, travel largely restricted, and training routines consistently hampered. But that has not stopped determined event organisers and the off-road community at large from keeping the XTERRA spirit alive and well locally, and now that borders are open once again, the 2023 APAC Tour is primed and ready to give professional and amateur triathletes across the region what they have waited for for so long.
Returning at full strength with 6 of the most tantalising off-road triathlons on the circuit across 5 bucket-list destinations, the long-awaited 2023 APAC Tour is set to open in the trail haven of New Zealand and finish on the tropical island of Tahiti. And what lies between that first swim and the final run is another epic season of the best in off-road tri as professional and amateur athletes compete for their place at the XTERRA World Championship and the honour of being crowned XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champion.
It’s been a long time coming, but the wait is finally over. In just more than a fortnight the starting gun will sound and the 2023 APAC Tour will officially be underway once more.
After two years of waiting it would be hard to ask for a better start than the country that is synonymous with the best trails on the planet, but somehow it does get better as the 2023 APAC Tour opens with not one but two events in the trail mecca of New Zealand.
The XTERRA Wellington Festival will officially get the tour started on Feb 25 with a race that is nothing less than pure, off-road tri across a terrain enviable to any adventure enthusiast. The opening event of the tour promises to give athletes a taste of XTERRA racing at its finest with a race that the event team describes as “No glitz nor glamour, just honest New Zealand terrain, spectacular views and proper homegrown hospitality.”
The festival first debuted in 2020 and has been embracing the rugged coastal landscape linking the beach to the mountains of Kāpiti ever since. The rugged New Zealand beach situated on the North Island’s southernmost point offers an unpredictable sea for the two-lap swim before sending athletes into a mountain bike course featuring one grade-three downhill, two big climbs, and spectacular forest views. It’s then a scenic run through coastal dunes to the finish to close out the first race of the 2023 tour.
The XTERRA Rotorua Festival follows on March 11 in the enchanted Whakarewarewa Forest surrounding Lake Tikitapu, where some 2,000 XTERRA Warriors will gather for a festive day of events that include family-friendly 5.5, 11, and 21km trail runs, mountain bike races, and short-and-championship distance off-road triathlons.
It’s arguably the best mountain bike course in the world, like a roller coaster ride on “magic dirt” that twists and turns through towering redwoods and monstrous ferns.
The race always starts with a traditional haka, which always gets the athletes and spectators energised for a huge day of off-road racing.
Just across the Tasman Sea, XTERRA Australia returns once again to the XTERRA circuit and the APAC Tour, but this time in an all-new location.
Taking place on April 1 in the coastal town of Dunsborough in south western Australia, the race will start in the crystal clear water of Geographe Bay where spectators will have front row seats to the action as swimmers remain within 200m of the coastline at all times. The race then continues on to a spectacular 28.5km MTB ride through the Meelup Regional Park where the Dunsborough Country Club and Cape Mountain Biker crews have been hard at work to provide a superb course that will include around 80% single track through ‘Brown Street’ and beyond with plenty of berms, jumps and fast flats. The race rounds out with a run that mixes wide open gravel trail and technical sections, with only 2 small climbs to conquer before a fast descent to the finish.
Dunsborough is renowned for its awe-inspiring landscape that encompasses a vast ocean of beautiful blue water, sculpted granite coastlines, wildflower lined running tracks, and an extensive network of mountain bike trails.
XTERRA Taiwan will be welcoming back international athletes with more than a bang on April 15 in a triple-feature event that will see the 2023 APAC Off-road Triathlon Championship, the 2023 APAC Trail Run Championship, and the opening race of the all-new XTERRA World Cup all play out on the trails of Kenting National Park.
Only in its 6th edition this year, XTERRA Taiwan has grown massively since it was first brought to the tropical island in 2018, and there is no doubt that 2023 will be another landmark year for the event. International athletes will be introduced to the new race venue for the first time, while local athletes and spectators will be treated to the top tier of amateur and elite racing as the best age group athletes compete for APAC Championship crowns and the elites go head to head for their share of the $340,000 in the first round of the XTERRA World Cup.
The event will bring together off-road racers of all kinds, with the triathlon, trail runs, and an XC MTB event all contributing to a festival of adventure, competition, and community.
Both reigning XTERRA Champions are set to compete in what may be their first XTERRA race of the season since showing their dominance at the 2022 XTERRA World Championship in Molveno, Italy.
XTERRA Japan was held in the mystic, fog-shrouded mountains of Marunuma from 2004 - 2013 under the direction of Taro Shirato, and was then brought back to Marunuma in 2019 by the one and only Makoto Shimamoto.
The location has been praised by competitors from all over the world as being the most spiritual and scenic spot on the entire XTERRA World Tour. It’s four hours away from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo at the Kanko So Resort – a traditional Japanese inn with hot springs remotely situated in a protected natural preserve 4,000 feet above sea level.
The race itself combines a 1,200m swim in the calm waters of Marunuma Lake with an adrenaline-ridden 26km mountain bike and a ridiculously wild 10km trail run.
Participants are immersed in the beauty of nature, the gracious and warm Japanese hospitality, and delicious food. After the race athletes can soak in the “onsen” bath - a natural hot spring with extremely hot and cleansing volcanic water that the Kanko So Resort is famous for. Then comes a feast – complete with curry and noodles and sautéed beef, succulent pork, hot corn on the cob and ice-cold beer – followed by Taiko drummers and ritual dances.
And finally, finishing just as strong as it started, the 2023 APAC Tour ends in the tropical paradise of Tahiti on October 1st. This will be the 7th year of racing in Tahiti on the beautiful island of Moorea, with an event team that is known to go out of their way to deliver a world-class event and bucket-list cultural experience.
XTERRA Tahiti starts in Opunohu Bay with competitors jumping on boats that ferry them out into the middle of the bay for the start, and a straight-line swim of 1500m in perfectly calm, turquoise water back to the shore.
The bike features three very fun 11km laps. There are three aid stations per lap with ice, cold water, and coke. The run is one big loop. The first part is rolling and easy but at about the 3km mark there’s a big climb with lots of ruts and rocks in the forest, and the last 4 km is all downhill and fast.
At the finish line racers will find lots of local juices and fruits, beer, and guacamole! And with all 6 races complete, the taste will be just that much sweeter for those who end the season as an XTERRA APAC Tour Champion.
One very important (and exciting) change on the tour this year will be the introduction of the World Performance Index, the new custom-built scoring system by XTERRA that will be used to decide all three regional championships.
The formula-driven points scoring system works by taking into account a wide range of macro and micro factors - from strength and depth of the field to course difficulty, water and air temp, and rainfall on the day - to deliver a precise WPI score that ultimately calculates the strongest race performance across all races given the factors of each race.
Those with the highest score will take their place at the top of the leaderboard for their gender and age division, and those at the top once all 6 races are complete will be crowned as the 2023 APAC Tour Champions.
This, however, will work in conjunction with the newly-implemented two race rule (three for the EMEA and Americas Tours) that requires athletes competing in the APAC Tour to have started at least two races to be eligible for championship honours. So while the championship will be decided by a single unmatched WPI score, only those with 2 starts to their name will be in contention for the crown.
The rule is designed to encourage a deeper field for top contenders across more races within the tour, level the playing field for travelling athletes, and reward those not afraid to take on multiple terrains within the region.
But one key factor to remember with the two race rule is that athletes only need to start two races. Those who register a DNF or DNS due to a mechanical, injury, illness, or any other reason, can still use the race to count towards their required 2 races.
The combination of the WPI and the three race rule will add an exciting twist to the tour this year. Expect to see more familiar faces at the front of the race as those chasing the championship crown will need to be more active within the tour. The WPI system also essentially creates a ‘hot seat’, with top contenders across all the divisions constantly looking to dethrone those on top as the season unfolds.
Once the first WPI scores are posted following the XTERRA Wellington Festival, the bar will be set one race will be on to topple those in the hot seat.
Be sure to check in at the APAC Tour page for all the most up to date dates, locations and information. Via each event page you’ll also be able to see the full range of races on offer for friends and family to get involved and feel the XTERRA spirit firsthand.
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