With the announcement this week of the 2014 XTERRA Asia Pacific Championship to be held in New South Wales’ Jervis Bay we thought we would catch up with Ben Allen who is taking on the XTERRA world champs this weekend in Hawaii. The XTERRA Asia Pacific Championship will be held in Ben’s backyard as they are only just over an hour away from his hometown of Wollongong.
Trizone: Ben, you are a former ITU triathlete who has found his calling racing the off road version of triathlon. You have crossed over to XTERRA and we wanted to know what is the appeal of off road triathlons?
Ben Allen: I really enjoyed my time racing in the ITU Triathlon World and, thanks to my coach at the time Jamie Turner, gave me a opportunity as a Surf Ironman Athlete to cross over to triathlon. Jamie really opened my eyes up to the demands of the sport and what I needed to achieve.
Through hard work and 100% commitment I listened, learned & tried to reach the outcomes, but I wasn’t able to achieve them under the direction of the national coaches. I knew if I wanted to achieve the outcomes I needed to gain the years of experience that I didn’t have and let my body evolve from a Surf Ironman into a Triathlete. I did some mountain biking as cross training trying to keep up with Josh Carlson a Pro Giant Bikes Enduro Rider, shredding around the Gong.
I discovered the sport of XTERRA through reading an article in an Aussie Tri Mag on Xterra Aus in 07′ and signed up to race. It was everything I was looking for and more. Adventure, thrill, challenging natural terrain, unique locations & laid back friendly people. I was hooked!
TZ: Both you and your partner Jacqui Slack are a bit of a power couple when it comes to XTERRA. Jacqui has been doing very well this year as you have. How is it traveling the world together and racing together?
Ben: To be honest, it’s a dream come trueâ€¦ I feel like the luckiest person in the world to spend each and everyday with some who is my best friend, has the same aspirations, loves the athletic lifestyle and enjoys traveling the world living each day as if it was your lastâ€¦.
I’m not going to lie we have our up’s and down’s and encountered numerous dummy spits. But at the end of the day we feel very blessed to have such wonderful family & friends who help us through the situations.
TZ: How has the preparation gone for this weekend’s world champs?
Ben: Preparations for this years Xterra World Championships has been the best ever. I feel fit, healthy and mental fresh ready to put myself in the hurt box until I drop.
I have a massive fire inside my belly from last year’s misfortune where my chain snapped to the point of ‘unfixable’. But I still managed to finish and pay respects to my amazing family, friends and sponsors who supported me throughout the year.
TZ: You recently won XTERRA England. This year has been a good year for you. Tell us about some of the other races you have done this year. What has been some of the highlights?
Ben: Winning Xterra England was the highlight of the season so far mainly because my partner and also Xterra Champion Jacqui Slack won and her family and friends where there to support us all the way.
My parents have made the trip over from Australia to support Jacqui and I. I have some amazing friends all over the world who have sent messages wishing me the best of luck. Not to forget my sponsors who have supported me throughout my journey and been there at every race. Thank youâ€¦
TZ: What does the XTERRA Asia Pacific Championships coming to your own backyard mean for you?
Ben: It’s a dream come true! To have a World Class XTERRA Championship in my own backyard is ‘Priceless’. The opportunity that my family, friends & sponsors can see what I have come to love do in one of Australia’s beautiful coastlines is awesome.
We have some of the best triathletes in Australia and it gives them the opportunity to compete at home in an international World Class XTERRA event against some of the best Off-Road athletes in the World.
How To Qualify for Challenge’s The Championship for 2018
Challenge Family has announced how triathletes can qualify for The Championship 2018, which once again takes place 3rd June, 2018 at the remarkable x-bionic® sphere in Samorin, Slovakia.
Qualification for The Championship 2018 commenced at Challenge Wanaka in February 2017 and will conclude at Challenge Salou in May 2018
Athletes have the chance to qualify for The Championship 2018 in a further 18 races taking place worldwide
Last year, the world’s top triathletes came together to race Challenge Family’s inaugural The Championship 2017, which took place in Samorin, Slovakia, and attracted an impressive line-up including double Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee, winner of The Championship 2017 Lionel Sanders, former World Champion Sebastian Kienle, Challenge Gran Canaria winner Emma Pallant and the winner of The Championship 2017 Lucy Charles among others.
Lucy, who eventually triumphed at the event, was full of praise for the course and atmosphere, saying: “The race course was epic this year, and what’s amazing is that even though it was in its first year, the race drew in huge names and huge crowds, and the vibe was just electric. I can’t wait to see what The Championship 2018 brings, especially with so many chances for athletes to qualify.”
For professional athletes, the race carries with it a minimum prize purse of €150,000 and for its return this year, The Championship 2018 has a unique qualifying system in place that means pros will be able to qualify via global Challenge Family events. What’s more, there are still 18 races yet to take place, featuring middle and full distance races, as well as a number of side events, in locations such as Aruba, Melbourne and Brazil. The races are: Challenge Davos Festival, Challenge Iskandar Puteri, Challenge Madrid, Challenge Peguera-Mallorca, Challenge Aruba, Challenge Kanchanaburi, Challenge Forte Village Sardinia, Challenge Shepparton, Challenge Florianopolis, Challenge Wanaka, Challenge Mogan-Gran Canaria, Challenge Melbourne, Challenge Cerrado, Challenge Taiwan, Challenge Rimini, Corporate World Cup at Challenge Lisboa, Challenge Lisboa and Challenge Salou.
It’s not only the pros that will compete next year – all age group athletes have the chance to qualify with a top six age group finish at any global Challenge Family event during the qualification period, the last opportunity of which will be at Challenge Salou in May 2018. Furthermore, the top six teams in the female, male and mixed categories in relay events will also qualify for The Championship at Challenge Family events.
Qualifying slots will roll down in each age group and relay category up to 12th place, however, there will not be a roll down system for professional athletes.
Upon qualifying, the top six teams in each female, male and mixed category in relay events will also qualify for The Championship 2018 team relay. A registration code will be sent to the qualifying age-group athlete (via email), allowing the athlete to complete the online registration form. Each qualifying athlete will then have four weeks to register for The Championship 2018.
Zibi Szlufcik, CEO of Challenge Family, says of The Championship 2018: “We are excited and determined to make next year’s The Championship even better than 2017. With so many Challenge Family races taking place globally, and inclusive qualification system for pro and age grouper athletes, we are sure to attract even more remarkable athletes to the event. Of course, we are thrilled yet again to be working with the incredible x-bionic® sphere, in addition to enforcing the highly regarded 20m draft rule to keep racing fair for all. We look forward to raising an even higher standard in international triathlon.”
The course is carefully curated so that the outstanding venue, x-bionic® sphere, forms the stunning backdrop of the starting, transitioning and finishing stages of the race, providing striking views for both the competing athletes as well as spectators.
Super League Jersey Men’s Race Preview
Scores will be settled and champions will arise at Super League Jersey this weekend with 25 of the world’s best male athletes competing. Most of them are reprising their Super League Hamilton Island appearances alongside notable and speedy additions to the roster. Richard Murray, Mario Mola, and Jake Birtwhistle were the top three athletes after the racing on Hamilton Island, which occurred early in the general triathlon season.
Since then, Mola has defended his world title and Birtwhistle has earned a mixed relay world championship alongside his Australian teammates including Matt Hauser, who has now also won a junior world title. Murray was in the running to end the year ranked third in the world and took two bronzes and one silver on the world triathlon circuit. However, in the end, he was bumped down to fourth by Kristian Blummenfelt, who made his mark on Hamilton Island by winning the first two of the three stages in the Eliminator and then racked up three silvers and one bronze on the circuit.
“Super League Hamilton Island was the springboard for many of these men’s epic seasons,” says executive chairman and co-founder Chris McCormack. “They were able to showcase the qualities that have led to their success this year. At Super League Jersey that’s going to make them a target for the athletes who either have a score to settle from the previous event or have never raced them in these formats.”
Jonathan Brownlee is one of those new entrants; after missing Hamilton Island due to injury, the dual Olympic medalist and two-time sprint world champion is raring for a go over the Triple Mix and the Eliminator, the two formats featured in this weekend’s racing. While Brownlee has shown himself a force to reckon with over shorter distances, the even shorter super sprint distances and multiple stages over two days will be a new experience. “The exciting thing is it’s something completely different, completely new,” he says. He looks forward to racing on what he considers home soil. “The British seem to put on incredible sports events. We’ve got lots of people watching and have a good culture of support in sports. And I think Super League will be another great British race.”
With the racing over the Triple Mix format at Super League Jersey, the three stages will mix up the three disciplines of triathlon: Stage 1 is swim-bike-run, Stage 2 is run-bike-swim, and Stage 3 is bike-swim-run. Athletes will need to tap into their speed from the gun in Stage 1 due to the pursuit starts in Stages 2 and 3. They will start the succeeding stages in the order they finished the previous stage, separated by how much time they lost to the preceding finisher. This is slightly different from the mechanics used on Hamilton Island, where athletes started each stage at the same time. “We want to reward the fastest overall on the day, and the pursuit start allows that person to cross the final finish line first,” McCormack reveals.
Had this been done on Hamilton Island, Richard Varga would have won the day thanks to his quick times in the water and on the bike. “I was proud to finish fourth in points after three days of racing on Hamilton Island, but definitely this adjustment in the Triple Mix will suit my strengths,” Varga says.
Day 2 features the Eliminator, where over three stages of swim-bike-run the slowest athletes will be eliminated. Stage 2 will star the Top 15 from Stage 1, while only the Top 10 from Stage 2 will go on to Stage 3. On Hamilton Island, Murray could afford to come in third in Stage 3 as he had already amassed nearly insurmountable points lead from two previous days of racing.
But in Jersey with only two days of racing over which to rack up points from finish standings, it will be imperative not only to survive through to Stage 3 but also finish well.
Ben Kanute is one of the world’s best over the super sprint distance, securing the fastest overall swim-bike-run split in the 2016 mixed relay world championship win he shares with Team USA. Yet it remains to be seen whether he can replicate this feat over multiple stages with a scant 10 minutes between them. He is also coming off a runner-up performance over the half distance two weeks ago, which may impact his fleet-footedness.
“I set out to win every race I start at, so everyone is a target for me,” Kanute says. “Look for me to go off the front on the bike and shake things up. Everyone else out there, just try and hold my wheel.”
With this star-studded and speedy line-up, Super League Jersey could be anyone’s to win. Watch all the action live on www.superleaguetriathlon.com or youtube.com/superleaguetriathlon. The men’s races will stream at 1 pm on September 23rd and at 4 pm on September 24th (all times GMT+1).
Do Your TrainingPeaks workouts in Zwift
Are you a TrainingPeaks user and also love using Zwift on those days that aren’t great to be outdoors? Well, today marks a significant step forward for both companies as the integration just got a whole heap better for us.
Many of us are using TrainingPeaks because our coach uses it and they put the required workout information in there for us to complete (or not) plus it’s great for understanding certain key metrics.
From today, you can now do your TrainingPeaks Structured Training within Zwift without doing any fancy export/import or be recreating those sessions in Zwift – and hands up who has done that before? Just login to Zwift and make sure your account is linked to your TrainingPeaks account – you can check this on the connections page. If they are connected, disconnect and connect them again just to be safe. Next, make sure your workout has been saved via TrainingPeaks Structured Workout Builder.
Lastly, login to Zwift, select workouts, and find today’s workout under the TrainingPeaks dropdown. You’ll only see the workout for the current day, and it updates automatically each day.
Super League Jersey Women’s Race Preview
Super League Triathlon will make history this weekend as female athletes race its unique formats for the first time at Super League Jersey. “Our race on Hamilton Island earlier this year was an exhibition of what was to come. Super League Jersey is formally the first event of the Super League Triathlon season and we are proud to have the world’s best athletes male and female on our starting line,” says executive chairman and co-founder Chris McCormack.
The first day of racing will feature the Triple Mix, which will test athletes’ adaptability to switch-ups to the traditional swim-bike-run order of triathlon and rewards a willingness and ability to go hard from the gun. The Triple Mix has three stages (swim-bike-run, run-bike-swim, bike-swim-run) and pursuit starts in Stage 2 and 3 that will allow athletes to build a lead from Stage 1 and challenge them to hold onto that lead until the final finish line in Stage 3.
The most challenging may be in Stage 2 and Stage 3, as athletes are unaccustomed to swimming after cycling. “Legs will feel very heavy in that swim,” says McCormack. “Athletes with good swim mechanics and natural speed can get an edge on the competition here, and if they get a big enough gap and can hold onto it, they can very well win the day.”
Two such athletes are Carolina Routier and Lucy Hall, renowned for their prowess in the water. Hall might be the stronger cyclist between the two, but Routier has the better run, a common weakness among fast swimmers. Routier may have the insider’s edge; with fiance and training partner Mario Mola having placed overall runner-up on Hamilton Island, they may have rehearsed such scenarios.
“I’m just excited to give it my best. It’s something we don’t get to do on the regular triathlon circuit and anything can happen,” says Routier.
On the second day, the Eliminator will whittle the field down to the best of the best. Only the top 15 finishers in Stage 1 will proceed to Stage 2, and of those only, the fastest 10 can race Stage 3. Between each stage, the first athlete across the line will have ten minutes to recover, while succeeding athletes will have less time. The previous day’s racing may also play a role in how sprightly the athletes will be.
“The question posed to these athletes is: will they want to expend effort to get to the front and take advantage of a longer rest, or will they just avoid elimination in Stage 1 and 2, conserving the energy to power through to the Stage 3 win?” says McCormack.
In the previous race on Hamilton Island, it was not the veterans Richard Murray or Mario Mola who took the Eliminator win after three stages, but young Jake Birtwhistle who put on a burst of speed in the final 500 meters. From the women’s roster, athletes with a mixed relay world championship pedigree may rule this format, such as Kirsten Kasper (2016 – USA) and Charlotte McShane (2017 – Australia). The distances are similar, with the major difference being the multiple stages and the threat of elimination.
“I definitely think I have the run legs to get to the front of the pack,” says Kasper, a former collegiate cross-country and track star. “But it really depends on staying close enough to strike out for the win. This field is so deep, it’s going to take everything I have.”
London Olympic silver medalist Nicola Spirig and world championship bronze medalist Katie Zaferes will have targets on their backs. As Super League Hamilton Island showed, the big names in Olympic triathlon might not be the ones standing triumphant at the end of the day. Will this prove to be the case in Jersey?
Super League Jersey Course preview with Ryan Fisher
Super League this weekend will be nothing like the Hamilton Island event; apart from the excitement and exhaustion of course.
The Jersey course is going to be more tactically challenging for the athletes, with tiny winding corners and narrow roads. Ryan Fisher is in Jersey gearing up for the race, and he’s checked out the course in anticipation for Saturday.
The 300-metre course is made up of a simple one-lap course with just two left turns.
“It’s pretty similar to the swim course in Hamilton Island [Super League]” said Fisher, “inside the rock wall where the swim will be, it’s pretty calm.”
The bike course is going to be exceptionally tough, with many sections being just four metres wide. The bike course if made up of five laps creating a 5.5km course in total. There are six turns within the bike course and one U-turn.
“It’s really different to Hamilton Island as it’s pancake flat,” said Ryan Fisher. “In areas it’s only 5m wide, but there is no room for getting passed anyone as there’s a wall right there. If you have ten guys together, there are only two spots during each lap where you can pass people.”
The race will be fierce. “It will be corner – sprint – corner – sprint,” said Fisher.
Jersey is notorious (as is much of the UK) for rainy, wet weather, which will make the course even tougher. “There is a cobbled section, which will be very technical with water on it,” said Fisher.
The run course weaves along the same course as the bike leg, but is only two laps making the total distance 2 km. The Super League team says “it’s a tight, compact course and will be exciting for athletes and for fans.”
Thanks to Aussie Ryan Fisher for getting to Jersey early and giving us the inside scoop! We’re so excited for Super League Jersey!
What you need to know about Super League in Jersey
Super League is triathlon’s coolest, fastest, flashiest new event and it’s coming to the UK at the end of September. Here are a few of the highlights of Super League’s upcoming event plus the top picks for the podium.
Women’s event launch
Super League is launching its women’s event this month and we couldn’t be more excited. The Super League series was launched on Hamilton Island without a women’s event due to the top female triathletes being unable to attend. Now though, the top women are geared up for this exciting event including Lucy Hall, Emma Pallant, Non Stanford and Katie Zeferes to name just a few.
What’s the Jersey course like?
In the words of founder Chris Macca, “It’s a small, windy and technical course, and it could be cool and wet.” Bring on the excitement!
Why race in September?
Weather will be cooler in Jersey in September, but the water will be at its warmest after being heated throughout the summer months.
Who will win – Women’s?
Macca and Stuart Hayes discussed the fierce start list, and since Hayes coaches Pallant, they took her out of the predictions to eliminate bias.
Macca and Hayes reckon Jodie Stimpson might take out the win as she hasn’t had a hugely busy season and she’s an aggressive athlete.
Nicola Spirig could also be in with a chance at the top spot.
Of course, Emma Pallant is in with a huge chance too. “I’ve never seen anyone train like Emma, except the Brownlee brothers,” said Hayes.
Who will win – Men’s?
Stu is convinced anyone could take out the top spot as the race format is new for almost everyone. “No one has done an Eliminator properly,” said Hayes. Hayes reckons Jonny Brownlee is a likely champion as he hasn’t had a big year as he’s been sidelined with injury and illness.
Richard Varga could be in with a great chance to as he’s a fierce 800m runner.
Hayes thinks all the seasoned athletes shouldn’t ignore the very real threat of the junior athletes who are very used to racing sprint races. “They’re the guys to watch out for,” said Hayes.
Super League is officially the most exciting triathlon race format out there, and we can’t wait for Jersey this month.
Who do you think will win Jersey Super League?
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