Why XTERRA France Should Be on Your 2024 Calendar

Nearly every year XTERRA France either sells out completely or comes dangerously close, and for good reason. It’s one of the oldest races on the XTERRA circuit and has perfected the art of putting athletes at the very centre of everything (literally), and delivering a race experience like no other.

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One of the Oldest, Toughest, and Biggest Races on the World Tour

This weekend, over 2000 XTERRA athletes will descend on the small town of Xonrupt. The hundreds, if not thousands, of fans, friends and family they bring will more than double the population of the tiny village in the northeast of France and already the atmosphere and excitement will be brewing. 

This is not only one of the oldest races in XTERRA, dating back to its 2006 debut, but it’s also one of the toughest. The 40K bike course far exceeds any other in length and comes with 1200m of elevation. The 10K run adds another 320m of elevation while the wet and wild weather conditions can often provide the perfect recipe for a very long day in the woods. Even the elite athletes spend longer on this course than any other, with not a single athlete in 2022 able to finish in under 3 hours while the last athlete came in after spending almost 6 hours and 40 minutes fighting against the elements. The 2000+ athletes on their way to Xonrupt will know this, and nerves will no doubt be racing, but still they will not be deterred.

Many will be heading for their first experience of this physically demanding race, but even more will be returning for their second, third, fourth or even tenth round of suffering because - despite all the cramps, the burn, the breathlessness of yet another climb - there just isn’t anything quite like the XTERRA France experience. 

It’s something the race organisers have refined and improved with every edition of the event. From the custom-built bike park to the multiple race formats to that famously loud finish, the atmosphere is like no other and the energy is palpable. And every single finisher, from the first elite to the last age grouper in each of the 6 races over the 2 days will feel every ounce of that energy when they cross the line. 

It’s long, loud, dirty, painful, ugly and beautiful all at the same time, and every XTERRA athlete will know how good that can feel.


The Custom-Built Bike Park

There are a number of factors that contribute to the XTERRA France experience, but nothing stands out more than the custom-built bike park that sits in the very centre of the race village. This is what draws the crowds, this is where it gets loud, and this is where so much of the action takes place. 

It’s built exclusively for the event and no two years are the same. Using around 1200 pallets of wood, hundreds of wooden boards and thousands of screws, the organisers carefully construct a maze of ramps, bridges and berms that raise the race metres into the air. Athletes will have to tackle the feature by both bike and foot, and no matter where spectators stand they’ll have a front row seat to the show. 

Almost every race format throughout the 2-day event will need to take on the beast that is the bike park, but nerve-racking as it may be it puts each athlete at the centre of the race to feel the energy of the crowd that will no doubt be cheering them on at full volume. It’s fast, frightening, and your heart will be thumping right out your chest, and then you’ll want to do it all over again.


An All-Out Off-Road Festival

The XTERRA Full Distance Triathlon is for sure the feature race of the event and consistently draws the biggest names in the game in a battle for the €15,000 prize purse and the 58 World Championship slots, but it’s also far from being the only show. 

XTERRA France is a 2-day festival of racing with a total of 5 other formats designed to give athletes either their first taste of XTERRA racing or build on their foundation as they make their way up to the full distance race. It’s no secret that France breeds XTERRA talent. Of the 24 male and female age divisions at the 2023 XTERRA European Championships 16 were won by French athletes, many of whom would have got their start at XTERRA France. 

Of the 2000+ athletes heading to Xonrupt, around 700 will brave the Full Distance race, 800 will take on the Discovery Triathlon, 300 youngsters will be spread across the 2 Kids Triathlons and around 200 teams of two, connected throughout the race, will suffer together in the ultra-fun SwimRun race. 

Those who have witnessed it before will know how wild it gets during the Enduro Triathlon - an invite-only race of the top 25 fastest athletes put on purely for the crowd. The race is essentially 3 back-to-back ultra short and ultra fast triathlons in a condensed course that will be lined by fans. The 200m swim is barely enough to get wet before athletes are onto the bike for a 2K ride in and around the bike park and then onto a 1K run before heading back into the water for the second of three rounds, with any athlete coming into transition more than 2 minutes behind the leader eliminated from the race. Hearts will be pumping both sides of the tape with the lead changing constantly throughout the race, setting the energy levels on day 1 of the event.


The Home of XTERRA Champions

Day 2 is the big dance, with athletes travelling from around the country and across the world to take on the waters of Lac de Longemer and the trails of Xonrupt. The startline will be brimming with local talent as there is no greater feeling than winning the home race. Big names such as Nicolas Lebrun, Arthur Serrières, Maxim Chané, Arthur and Felix Forissier, Solenne Billouin, Morgane Riou, and Marion Lorblanchet have all laid claim to the title of XTERRA France Champion, as have non-French powerhouse names such as Ruben Ruzafa, Marta Menditto and Lesley Paterson.

The 55.5K course is wild and unpredictable, but one that no athlete will soon forget. A mass start of 700+ participants may sound daunting but XTERRA France uses the full width of the beach to send athletes into the single-lap 1500m swim with plenty of opportunity to find space and navigate the warm waters of Lac de Longemer. A corridor of noise awaits as you exit the water and head into the first transition. 

A flat start to the bike allows a brief bit of respite but as soon as you make the ‘left turn’ (if you know you know) you’ll start the big climb that is one of the signature features of the XTERRA France course. It's not the steepest climb in the world, and it's not the most technical, but it's the perfect combination to make it a seriously tough effort. The course then winds its way through a dense forest with a full carpet of green moss on the floor where the beauty of a proper French forest goes a long way to distract from the pain. Once you are on top of the hill the course alternates between incredible singletrack and wider forest paths. Up top it's the perfect blend between interesting and entertaining terrain before heading into a descent that is perfect for a race course. By itself not particularly challenging, but once you start adding some bravery and speed then even the best XTERRA athletes in the world can expect to have their skills tested. From there it’s into the infamous bike park for a lap in front of the crowds and into T2.

The run can be brutal - you’re either close to being on your hands and knees climbing the ascents, descending wildly out of control on steep technical terrain, or trying to squeeze out what speed you have left on the technical lakeside trails. Two laps completes the full distance, giving you plenty of time to have a huge bonk if you’ve misjudged your efforts.

But every bit of pain and fatigue evaporates almost immediately as you come into the wildest, loudest, and most supported finish lines on the World Tour to claim your title as an XTERRA France Finisher.


The Loudest Finish Line in Europe

The entire XTERRA France weekend is an unforgettable experience, but the part that no finisher ever forgets is the wall of noise as you come into the finish. Hands banging on sideboards, cheers and screams from hundreds of spectators and the one and only Chun de Stockel on the mic bringing the hype as only he can. This is how every athlete finishes their race and this is what makes XTERRA France the epic experience it is. 

If you’re on your way to Xonrupt right now, enjoy every second of it. And if not, get your calendar out and turn to July, 2024.












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Spread throughout Europe, the Americas, and Asia-Pacific, the XTERRA content team is a passionate group of racers, writers, photographers, and videographers working to capture the endless adventure of the XTERRA Planet.

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