XTERRA Worlds: A Celebration of the Human Spirit #5

Behind every World Championship competitor lies the story that led them to the starting line. This series serves to share the stories, messages, and motivations of those set to compete in the biggest race of them all when the XTERRA World Championship returns to the Dolomite mountains in Trentino, Italy this September.

Written by
min read
In this preview:
No items found.

Mike Pearce - Respect All. Fear None. 🇺🇸

In the world off-road tri, where grit meets perseverance, emerges the story of Mike Pearce. Guided by the mantra, "Respect all. Fear None." He has not only conquered races, but also the challenges life has thrown his way. As Mike stands on the brink of the XTERRA World Championship in Italy, his tale is one of unwavering resilience, a story that embodies the essence of pushing boundaries and embracing the unknown.

“Last July, my friend Bobby asked me how long it had been since I had done a triathlon. I mentioned to him that it had been a while that I had done a few XTERRA events back in 2011 and 2012. But then I realized that my first triathlon was clear back in 1983 and coming up in 2023 would be 40 years. So one thing led to another and I began training again with the hopes of doing an XTERRA event in 2023 to celebrate my 40th year and the start of my fifth decade competing in triathlon.”

Forty years. A lifetime of heart-pounding races, relentless training, and intense passion. The flame had flickered but was now roaring back to life.

“I finally settled on doing the Oak Mountain event in Alabama in May. It felt great to compete again in the sport of triathlon, especially XTERRA, as it was a very challenging event with a very competitive field. But it lit a fire in me and I went ahead and signed up for the next event I could find and I could get to. The event was at Cameron Park in Waco, Texas. I went there, hoping to improve on my results from Oak Mountain and learn a little more about myself and the XTERRA world of triathlon.”

One event wasn't enough. The adrenaline was pumping, the taste of competition addictive. Waco, Texas, awaited - a new challenge, a new battleground.

“Again, it was a very tough and challenging course on a very hot day in Texas, but with a much smaller field of athletes. I survived and came out the age group winner in 60 to 64. Qualifying for the World Championships in Italy is a dream come true for me.”

Survival was the name of the game. The blistering heat, the punishing course - Mike conquered them all. Victory was sweet, but the dream had just begun.

“I had the opportunity to compete at Ironman USA in Lake Placid back in 2005. It was a great experience to be among an international field of triathletes and I will treasure it forever. But, I have always dreamed of competing in an athletic event in a foreign country against an international group of athletes.”

"I have always dreamed of competing in an athletic event in a foreign country against an international group of athletes.”

This was a taste of the global arena. But the dream was bigger, bolder - Molveno, Italy beckoned, a stage set for an epic clash of wills.

“For me going to Italy will be the fruition of all of my efforts as an athlete, clear back to 1972 when I watched Mark Spitz compete for the USA in swimming in the Olympic Games in Munich Germany. I was only 9 years old in 1972 and competed on the YMCA swim team in my hometown.”

Munich '72. A memory etched in time, a spark that set Mike’s journey ablaze. The YMCA pool was where it all started, where the passion was kindled.

“The biggest and most important race of my life [will be] in Molveno, Italy on September 23, 2023. I can’t wait to compete as an age group athlete for the USA and I plan to run the race of my life.”

"Respect all. Fear None."

“‘Respect all. Fear None’ is a mantra I have used and lived since my earliest days in triathlon back in 1983. I actually painted it on my bikes that I competed on. I have lived it every day since during my years when I struggled to get through college, during my career as both a teacher and coach. What it means to me is very simple. If you give respect you will eventually get respect. In sport, it is respect for the game, your teammates, your opponents or competitors, as well as the officials and countless volunteers who facilitate your opportunities to compete. I believe in respecting all people regardless of their race, religion, nationality or any other way you categorize them. My wife has always inspired me when it comes to accepting all people.”

This is a truth carved in sweat and sacrifice. Respect is the currency, earned through dedication and shared struggle.

“As for the second part of my mantra, “Fear none”, that is me 100 percent. I have always thrived on the challenge of facing fear head on and never giving in to self doubt. Whether it be in sport (my passion), in the academic world, my career or just life in general, I have achieved so much in my life by just taking that next step and never looking back and believing in myself and my decisions.”

Fear is the spice of life, the spice that ignites the fire within. Every challenge, every obstacle - a chance to show the world Mike’s mettle.

“I hope to inspire all people. From the youth of the world to the oldest of the elderly. From the most talented and gifted to the underachiever and most challenged. I especially would like to inspire those who, like myself, were never the most talented but love the challenge of sheer self improvement and always striving to give their best. I am doing my best to prepare myself to compete against the best in the world this fall at the XTERRA World Championship and hope sharing my story will inspire everyone involved to just do their very best, have fun and enjoy the wonderful opportunity.”


Yoshimi Yagi - Unwavered Spirit 🇯🇵

The off-road triathlon can feel like a relentless battle where we exceed limits and conquer treacherous terrain. Yoshimi Yagi's journey to the XTERRA World Championship in Molveno, Italy, is a tale of resilience, determination, and a passion for nature.

Yoshimi’s foray into XTERRA was no ordinary one. With a casual approach to triathlons, he embarked on this quest in 2016, seeking to challenge himself. A swimmer since his early days, he believed that with dedicated practice, he could seize the challenge of taking on three disciplines at once. Yoshimi carried a lighthearted demeanor and wasn’t weighed down by the expectations of fierce competition.

In 2018, he completed a middle-distance triathlon, marking the culmination of his initial objective. An encounter with XTERRA on the internet sparked his curiosity, and his budding mountain biking skills set the perfect stage for this off-road challenge.

Yoshimi's determination led him to the Sprint Distance of XTERRA, but the entry period had already closed. Undaunted, he reached out to the organizers, offering to volunteer in exchange for a chance to participate. This sheer determination granted him entry.

"XTERRA is still a minor event in Japan," Yagi explains. "Compared to the Full Distance, there were fewer participants, but despite the small number, the people attending were somewhat relaxed and I could sense that they were trying to enjoy the event itself."

"It's not about winning, it's about participating and being part of the XTERRA family worldwide."

With XTERRA’s emphasis on embracing nature and the joy of competition, it struck a chord with Yoshimi. In his debut race, he triumphed, defying the odds. This victory fueled his confidence and affirmed his decision to pursue XTERRA further.

The year 2020 saw the cancellation of so many events, including many on the XTERRA circuit. Undeterred, Yoshimi continued to train, holding onto the hope of competing in 2021. When the opportunity finally arrived, he seized it with both hands, entering the coveted Full Distance category. Yet, the race did not unfold as expected. Yoshimi grappled with heat stroke during the bike leg, struggling through the run, and was overtaken by a fellow competitor just before the finish line.

Undaunted, Yagi embarked on a year-long journey of self-improvement, determined to grab his ticket to the XTERRA World Championship by winning his 35-39 age group in 2022 at XTERRA Japan. He dissected every aspect of his performance, from managing heat stroke to refining his running technique and enhancing his mountain biking skills.

His path was not without obstacles. An ankle injury sidelined him for two months, disrupting his training regimen. Still, Yoshimi pressed on, combining rehabilitation with rigorous training. His unwavering commitment was bolstered by his wife's support, allowing him to chase his dream and secure his spot. 

Yagi's journey reflects an evolving perspective. His manager, a seasoned MTB store owner, offered a valuable piece of advice during challenging times: "It's fun because you make mistakes. If everything went the way you wanted, it wouldn't be fun."

"It's fun because you make mistakes. If everything went the way you wanted, it wouldn't be fun."

This wisdom reshaped Yoshimi’s outlook. XTERRA, with its unpredictable terrains and unyielding challenges, taught him the beauty of embracing the process rather than fixating on results. It became a lesson he could apply not only to competition but to life itself.

As Yoshimi shares his story, he hopes to inspire others, encouraging them to embark on their own XTERRA journey. "It's not about winning," he emphasizes, "it's about participating and being part of the XTERRA family worldwide."

Yoshimi Yagi's relentless pursuit of self-improvement continues to fuel his fire. As we await the outcome of his journey, his unwavering spirit inspires a global community from cityscapes to XTERRA trails. 

XTERRA Worlds: A Celebration of the Human Spirit is an ongoing series, with part #1, #2, #3, and #4 here, and more stories still to come from those currently preparing for the XTERRA World Championship.















No items found.
From this story:

Author Bio


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.

Related stories


For news, event updates, stories and more.

Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later..
Like what you read?
Get more inspiring content right in your inbox!
Signing up means getting our weekly newsletter and occasional promotional content delivered straight to your inbox.
I'm not interested
Thank you!
We hope you enjoy the content.
Oops! Something went wrong!
We apologise for the inconvenience. Please try again later.