An awesome early season showdown between America’s best off-roader, Josiah Middaugh, Canada’s fastest man, Karsten Madsen, and Costa Rican star Rom Akerson will take place Sunday at Playa Reserva Conchal in Costa Rica’s northwest province of Guanacaste.
“Rom and Karsten will be very strong in this race,” said Middaugh, the reigning Pan Am Tour Champion who enters his 18th season of XTERRA racing this weekend. “Rom won here a couple years ago and is motivated after missing most of last season due to injury. He has the local’s advantage with the terrain and climate. It will be great to catch up with him. I also think this course suits Karsten well and he was very close to me in Alabama last year. So, I’ll try to tire him out on the pre-ride.”
Those three power-houses will be joined in the elite men’s race by Sebastian Neef from Germany, who is the reigning German long-distance national champion, home country favorite Andres Zuniga, and Americans Will Kelsay, who was 5th in the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour last year, Ian King, who was a top 20 performer on the Pan Am Tour last season, and Humberto Rivera, who will be making his elite debut.
“This is a tough race because of the climate which is such a contrast to the mountains of Colorado in March,” explained Middaugh. “The bike course has a steep climb in the beginning and then follows some fast jeep roads where you can draft. A couple years ago there was a lead pack of four guys who got out of the water ahead of me and they were working well together so it took a tremendous effort to make the catch.”
Middaugh won this race last year, his first XTERRA Costa Rica title in four tries following three straight runner-up performances. “Hey, that’s better than 15 tries,” he said after the race, referencing the 2015 XTERRA World Championship he won on his 15th attempt.
“I am always pumped to travel to my first race of the year, especially when it is in Costa Rica,” added Middaugh. “This year I am traveling with my whole family, so it will be a memorable trip regardless of how the race plays out. And yeah, 18 years now. Time flies when you are having fun. And I think the fact that my stoke level remains high after all this time says a lot for the sport of XTERRA.”
Middaugh added that his goal this year is simply to be “the best version of myself. I have years of experience behind me and physically I feel great. It takes a huge commitment and daily drive to achieve the pinnacle of this sport and I am still motivated to put in the work. As for Sunday, we’ll see. I have only had one day on the dirt so far this year, but I feel very strong and fit from my indoor training at the Westin Riverfront in Avon.”
Another man coming in hot is Madsen.
“I’m coming to Costa Rica to race the best,” he said. “I know Josiah and Rom will be there, two guys I’ve never beat. The goal is simple, and it’ll be the same theme all year, I want to win. I’ve changed a lot in my life to respect a statement like that.”
Madsen had a rough swim at XTERRA Worlds last year, felt shaky early on the bike and pulled. The DNF haunted him in the days and weeks to follow.
“After another unsuccessful race in Maui last year, and a December that had me contemplating retirement, I knew I needed to make some major changes,” said Madsen, the reigning and two-time XTERRA Victoria Champ. “I got accepted back into training with the Canadian National team program coached by Jono Hall and I got new training mates that race ITU WTS level events to push me. This year is about getting back to turning over every stone and doing the sport the way I know it needs to be done … along with having fun again.”
Madsen has been training in Phoenix, Arizona since early January, which should serve him well in the heat and humidity of Guanacaste.
“With the new training program, I’ve found myself back to doing a lot more top end quality work,” he said. “I’ve been working out at a consistency like never before. I’ve run my biggest run weeks ever this year and with a small body mass drop all that should help me on the bike and up the steep climbs. Thanks to my support team and sponsors, this year is my most ambitious yet with a whole lot of racing and travel, and I’m looking forward to having another crack at the XTERRA Pan Am Tour.”
In the women’s race local standout Adilia Jimenez, who won the overall amateur title at XTERRA Costa Rica last year and most recently finished 4th elite female at the Central American Games in Nicaragua, is hoping to take the top step in front of her family and friends.
Americans Rebecca Blatt, who placed sixth at this race two years ago, and Jessie Koltz, who finished 11th on the XTERRA Pan Am Tour in 2017, are also in contention for the title.
All-Time XTERRA Costa Rica Champions
2014 – Leonardo Chacon/Shonny Vanlandingham
2015 – Rom Akerson/Lesley Paterson
2016 – Karl Shaw/Myriam Guillot-Boisset
2017 – Josiah Middaugh/Suzie Snyder
XTERRA ARGENTINA SATURDAY IN SAN JUAN
Two-time Olympian Gonzalo Tellechea is back to defend his XTERRA Argentina title in front of family and friends at Dique Ullum this Saturday.
Tellechea, who hails from San Juan, had a great back-and-forth battle with fellow countryman Maxi Morales on the run before squeaking out the win by 25-seconds last year.
Morales is also back to give it another go, and joins Kieran McPherson (NZL), Branden Rakita (USA), and Rafael Juriti (BRA) who all raced at XTERRA Chile last weekend.
“I am looking forward to the battle with Gonzalo, Kieran, and Maxi,” said Rakita, who was the runner-up on the Pan Am Tour last year. “I had a nice confidence boost from the race in Chile and look forward to putting it all together here as well. It isn’t really a secret, but I hope to build a gap in the swim and keep it all the way to the finish. All these guys are very strong bikers and runners, so I will have to really give it everything to stay ahead of them.”
XTERRA Argentina, now in its third year, is the second of 12 stops on the 2018 XTERRA Pan America Tour.
It starts with 1.5-kilometer swim in a dam full of warm water that looks out towards the snowcapped Andes in Chile, where the tour stopped last weekend.
“The venue for XTERRA Argentina is unique and fun, but also demanding,” said Rakita, who was fourth here last year. “The swim is in a beautiful lake and my guess is the water is right around 70-degrees and a great way to cool off with the warm days leading up to the race. The bike is very different from XTERRA Chile which had long grinding climbs. Here they are short and punchy. Most of the track moto’s ride on and so there are a lot of whoop sections you are pumping the bike through and it twists and turns through the valleys and dry river and creek beds.”
Rakita added that this year’s course has a lot more loose sand compared to last year and it can quickly grab your tire and sink if you are not paying attention.
“It’s really fun to ride, and the run is a brute. It is very exposed and is a gradual slog running up a rocky river bed for 5k then run down a different one that is a choose your own adventure as you are just trying to pick the fast line while spotting the red markers.”
The women’s elite race will be a rematch from last week with Allison Baca shooting for two wins in two weeks, while Fabiola Corona, Carolina Nieva, and Anne-Sophie Marechal – who finished 2nd thru 4th last week – all try to move up a spot or two.
Learn more at www.xterraplanet.com.
ALL-TIME XTERRA ARGENTINA ELITE CHAMPIONS
2016 – Josiah Middaugh / Myriam Guillot-Boisset
2017 – Gonzalo Tellechea / Suzie Snyder
XTERRA AMERICA TOUR STARTS THIS WEEKEND
While there are many reasons to love the beginning of spring, there is no doubt that for the XTERRA Tribe, the best part is that it signifies the start of XTERRA racing in the U.S.
This Saturday, XTERRA Bluebonnet in Bryan, Texas and XTERRA REAL in Granite Bay, California serve as the first chance for South Central and West region athletes to begin earning points in pursuit of a regional championship (and the Maui spot that goes with it).
“XTERRA REAL is the reason I own a hoody and booties,” said XTERRA Pan Am age group Champ, Janet Soule, in anticipation of the chilly water she has a date with this weekend. “The swim is followed by two super fun bike loops on a hilly, curvy trail, and the run is all trail and really fast. It’s a great course with the typical warm and friendly XTERRA vibe.”
On April 22nd, as the weather heats up in the southern states, the XTERRA Southeast region will kick into gear with XTERRA Myrtle Beach while the Atlantic region will follow on May 6th with XTERRA Jersey Devil in Barnegat, New Jersey. The XTERRA Northeast region joins the mix on June 6th with XTERRA French River in Oxford, Massachusetts, where the nation’s hardiest athletes show what they are made of after months of training through snow and ice. The Midwest region gets underway June 10th at Illinois Wilds in Hanna City while the much beloved XTERRA Lory announces the arrival of Mountain region racing on June 16th in Bellvue, Colorado.
The season keeps rolling until the XTERRA USA/Pan America Championship in Ogden, Utah on September 15th and is punctuated by two championship races. XTERRA Oak Mountain in Pelham, Alabama on May 19th and XTERRA Beaver Creek in Avon, Colorado on July 21st feature some of the best trails in the country. Even better, they attract some of the best XTERRA athletes from all over the world.
We know this season will go quickly, as it does every year, and we can’t wait to see what will unfold. We look forward to watching the races for regional championship titles and to see who earns a ticket to Maui by being the fastest on a given day at XTERRA Oak Mountain, XTERRA Beaver Creek, and XTERRA Nationals.
However, the best part of the tour belongs to the athletes. Whether it’s the quiet fortitude of the Northeast warriors, the rambunctious shenanigans of the Southeast athletes, or the diehards in Texas, who eat points for breakfast, we salute the men and women who will bravely toe the line, suffer well, and finish strong in 2018. We have no doubt they will inspire us with their courage, grace under pressure – and because this is XTERRA – their camaraderie and kindness.
Major League Triathlon Adds 3rd International Team
Major League Triathlon, the first and only professional triathlon league in North America, has announced a 9th team (3rd International franchise) for the 2018 season. For the first time in the league’s history, a National team from Mexico will participate in MLT.
The new franchise, dubbed, Guardianes de Guadalajara (Guadalajara Guardians), will consist of many of the top Mexican National Team athletes. The team will include:
- Crisanto Grajales
- Irving Perez
- Abraham Rodriguez
- Aram Peñaflor
- Leonardo Saucedo
- Cecilia Perez
- Vanesa de La Torre
- Adriana Carreño
- Andrea Gutierrez
- Lizeth Rueda
“We are thrilled to welcome this team to Major League Triathlon.” Said Daniel Cassidy, CEO of Major League Triathlon. “Triathlon Mexico and their athletes have established themselves as one of the world’s top federations leading up to Tokyo 2020. We are extremely excited to continue to increase the level of competition and give our athletes the opportunity to race Mixed Team Relay at the highest level possible. “
Major League Triathlon will host nine professional teams and will host many of the World’s best elite triathletes including international teams from Australia, Canada, and Mexico. MLT will host four events, making stops in: Atlantic City, Vail Valley, Tempe and Charlotte. The third year league specializes in the Mixed Team Relay format of racing, which will make its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. At every event, each athlete will swim 300 meters, bike four miles and run one mile, one at a time, before tagging their next teammate. The first team to have all four athletes cross the finish line will win.
Guardianes de Guadalajara
Guardianes de Guadalajara is the only Mexican/Latin-American Team competing in Major League Triathlon. They represent the City of Guadalajara. The Guardianes de Guadalajara will feature experienced triathletes like Olympians: Crisanto Grajales (London 2012 and Rio 2016), Irving Pérez (Río 2016), Cecilia Pérez (Río 2016) and the future of the extremely strong Mexican National Team including: Junior and U23 triathletes like Vanesa de la Torre, Abraham Rodriguez and Aram Peñaflor.
Rudy Project Launches Project Podium for Age Group Athletes
Rudy Project North America, the exclusive distributor of Italian-made endurance sports gear, and the most worn helmet at Kona 7 times in a row is launching Project Podium, an initiative that rewards North America’s fastest age group triathletes with award-winning performance Rudy Project eyewear and helmets. All age group racers that win their age group in any sanctioned long distance triathlon in the United States and Canada are eligible to receive a free, top-of-the-line Rudy Project Boost 01 road aero helmet and a pair of Tralyx sunglasses. Winners will also be featured on Rudy Project’s website and lauded on social media as the top long-distance age group triathletes on the continent.
“A full-distance, 140 miles plus race is nothing to sneeze at, and attempting one is a feat in of itself,” said Paul Craig, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Rudy Project North America. “To win your age group, to come out on top, is something exceptional, and we want to reward the best, with the best.”
The program is open to all age group triathletes that compete in a sanctioned long distance triathlon race, in Canada or the United States, that is included in Project Podium’s list of eligible races. Athletes must be legal residents of either Canada or the United States in order to be eligible to win. The prize pack being offered is worth up to $625 USD, and triathletes that win their age group can submit their results online for verification at www.rudyprojectna.com/pages/project-podium in order to redeem. Athletes will be able to choose from the entire Boost 01 road aero colour line up, which includes Stealth Black and eye-popping Pink Fluo. Rudy Project’s new road aero helmet is quickly becoming an athlete favourite, following wind tunnel testing by ProCycling Magazine that demonstrated the Boost 01 was faster than any competitor helmet tested. To complement their helmet, athletes can also select a frame from the entire award-winning Tralyx family, including the regular Tralyx, Tralyx XL for additional coverage, or the new Tralyx SLIM, designed specifically for athletes with narrower faces. That, coupled with customer-forward warranties like Rudy Project’s 6 Year Crash Replacement Guarantee and Lifetime Replacement Lens Guarantee, make this an unbeatable prize package for the age grouper at the top of their game.
“Rudy Project is simply the best,” said Paul Craig. “We’re choosing to celebrate athletes who power the sport – the age group athlete and rewarding those that get to the top, the pinnacle of success. It may seem too good to be true, but we’re serious. If you win your age group in one of our listed races, we want to give you a helmet and sunglasses. If that extra push is all it takes to motivate someone to train a little harder, run a little faster down the chute toward the finish line, then we’ve done our job.”
Winning athletes can submit their information and race results for verification online. Athletes that won their age group in any 2018 full distance triathlon prior to the announcement of the program are also eligible to redeem retroactively. Full terms and conditions of the initiative can be found online, as well as a full list of eligible races. The program will run until December 2018.
Taiwan added to XTERRA World Tour on 29-30 September at Kenting National Park
XTERRA World Tour today announced the inaugural XTERRA Taiwan off-road triathlon and accompanying sports festival to be held September 29-30, 2018 at Kenting National Park.
Events include an XTERRA championship distance event, an “Xticer” beginner distance off-road triathlon, 5, 10 and 21-kilometre trail runs.
“We are thrilled to bring XTERRA to the people of Taiwan and introduce the sport and lifestyle to athletes of all ages and skill levels,” said Brian Wei, Vice President of Marketing. “We also look forward to having XTERRA Tribe members from around the world join us in Taiwan to discover a truly remarkable location in Kenting and the fabulous culture and community that is found here.”
Kenting is on the southern tip of Taiwan and famous for its warm, turquoise water and white-sand beaches that give way to magnificent mountains and natural reserves.
The main event starts with a one-mile swim at Little Bay beach with a short run in between two-laps. The swim-to-bike transition is at the fascinating Kenting Youth Activity Center, which is comprised of 17 different styles of old-world buildings and is a tourist destination all by itself. Then, the 26-kilometer mountain bike course takes competitors from coastal terrain to rocky riverbeds to uncharted territory high atop MenMaLou mountain. And the final test of endurance is a 10-kilometer trail run through the tranquil and “enchanted forest” of Chihniuling, considered one of the eight wonders of Hengchun.
The XTERRA Taiwan Championship event offers an elite prize purse of $15,000 USD split among the top seven men and women and also 49 qualifying spots for amateurs vying to compete at the 2019 XTERRA World Championship race in Maui.
The Xticer tri is a perfect introductory race with a manageable 200m swim, 10km mountain bike and 2km trail run. Relay teams of two-or-three people are encouraged to race in the full distance event.
In addition to the off-road triathlons there is a race for everyone in the family during the 5km, 10km and 21km trail running races. And for the fast runners, a $20,000 NTD (about $700 USD) will be awarded to the top three men and women in the half-marathon distance race.
XTERRA has had a presence in the Asia-Pacific region since 2000 and hosts events in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Tahiti, and New Caledonia, however, this is its first foray into the burgeoning endurance sports market of Taiwan,” said Janet Clark, President of XTERRA World Tour.
Nico Lebrun, the XTERRA European director, helped design the course. He also returned to Taiwan to host local coaching clinics to help leaders in the area teach the various disciplines of XTERRA as well as champion the XTERRA motto to “Live More” through a healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle.
“After two trips to Kenting I can tell you it’s a beautiful place, and the perfect location for XTERRA,” said Lebrun, who is also part of the organizing committee producing the event. “If you like hot weather, warm water, fresh local food, and strong culture, you will love it here.”
Drama and excitement at Challenge Denmark
Andreas Dreitz and Pernille Thalund each took home a convincing victory in Saturday’s Challenge Herning. After a non-wetsuit swim the athletes had to conquer an unusually hot summer day, which delivered as well drama as excitement.
For a while favourite, Camilla Pedersen (DK) looked like a sure winner. The former elite swimmer came first out of the water after only 25:56 minutes, with two minutes down to fellow dane Pernille Thalund. But almost halfway through the bike course, Thalund took the lead and kept it all the way to the finish line. Laura Siddall (GB) fought her way up from being 9th to second place, well three minutes after Thalund. 18 minutes later Frankie Sanjana (GB) crossed the finish line.
Meanwhile, Camilla Pedersen fought a brave but brutal battle with her stomach which refused to hold anything down in the heat. It goes without saying that it was an unfair match, and halfway through the course, she chose to pull herself out of the race.
Dreitz does it again
Among the men, Swedish favorite Jesper Svensson was first out off the water with Daniel Bækkegaard right behind him. But racing across the Danish heath, the ranks were turned upside down. Ultimately, the former Challenge Denmark winner Andi Dreitz took the lead, after which Danes Matthias Lyngsø Petersen and Kristian Hindkjær succeeded in overtaking Svensson.
Last year’s winner, Anders “Hightower” Christensen finished fifth.
The weather as X factor
One should never complain about the fabulous, Danish summer weather. But in the triathlon context, the heat was grueling.For the pros, the water temperature of 23.1 degrees meant a non wetsuit swim, which was a draw back for the heavier athletes.The vast majority of the age groupers athletes chose to swim in their wetsuits.
The almost non-existent wind made cycling really fast. But as the athletes went out running, the combination of heat, sun and no wind meant an excruciatingly hard run through Herning’s otherwise festive streets.
“The weather is always the x-factor in triathlon. It’s something you can not predict or change – and that can make a huge difference in either direction. But it’s the same for everyone, and that’s something that makes it exciting”, says race director Claus Vesterby.
All about the experience
It is a very proud and happy race director, Claus Vesterby, who can close and shut Challenge Herning this evening: “We had a phenomenal pro field with some amazing athletes and personalities. It’s amazing to notice how the Challenge Family spirit influenced the day among both pro and age group athletes. All the amateur athletes at all levels who struggled to exceed their own expectations and have a party with their sport, never seize to amaze me. They are just as important to us as the professionals, and it’s fascinating to see the breadth of our sport. I am proud of that,” says Claus Vesterby:
“Everyone is here to do their best, but first and foremost they come to get a great experience. And there’s no doubt they’ve got that today – and so have I.It’s a pleasure to feel how the city of Herning has taken the Challenge in and really backs us up and creates a party around the athletes. That means so unbelievably much. So we are already looking forward to making an even more amazing event next year.”
- Andreas Dreiz, D, 3:47:12
- Matthias Lyngsø Petersen, DK, 3:51:54
- Kristian Hindkjær, DK, 3:57:31
- Pernille Thalund, DK, 4:20:55
- Laura Siddall, GB 4:24:00 PM
- Frankie Sanjana, GB, 4:42:00 PM
Mark Allen is Final Surge’s New Partner, Spokesperson, and Advisor for Triathlon
Mark Allen, 6-time IRONMAN® Triathlon World Champion and “The Greatest Endurance Athlete of All Time” according to ESPN, has teamed up with FinalSurge, the Best Online Training Log according to Triathlete magazine’s June 2018 Issue, to produce a special edition “Mark Allen Coaching” branded training program for triathlon. Allen will also serve as a spokesperson and advisor for Final Surge triathlon projects.
“His accomplishments as an endurance athlete are legendary, but we were even more blown away with his depth of knowledge, experience, and innovations in coaching,” said Bob Butler, IRONMAN Certified Coach and COO of Final Surge. “Having Mark Allen on the team represents an extraordinary opportunity for us to use his unparalleled athletic experience and coaching insights to build on our recent honor as “Best Online Training Log.”
“When the opportunity arose to work with Final Surge I recognized that the technology created by their team had finally reached a level of sophistication and ease of use that would be a perfect match for my coaching theories,” said Allen. “Final Surge has developed the best mobile applications for online coaches in all endurance sports, and I am proud to be a part of their team as they continue to innovate and grow.”
Rio Olympian Ryan Bailie moves to 6th on the WTS World Rankings
It was a case of survival of the fittest in yesterday’s energy-sapping World Triathlon Series Leeds round with Australia’s Rio Olympian, “Mr Consistent” Ryan Bailie the best of the Aussies, moving up the ITU WTS World Rankings to sixth after his 10th place finish.
His Olympic teammate Aaron Royle, after his sterling performance to put Australia in the medal hunt in Thursday’s WTS World Triathlon Mixed Relay, faded on the 10km run to finish 13th.
The tough Olympic distance Leeds course, with its immediate hill climb off the 1500m swim and then the 12.5km ride into the city before the tight technical street laps over 27.5km, proved unforgiving for some.
There were some casualties on the bike and then more on the run – including the likes of Leeds local hero and two-time Olympic medallist Jonny Brownlee.
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Jake Birtwhistle, third on the rankings going into Leeds, has dropped to seventh after his 22nd placing in a race which also saw his Commonwealth Games teammate Luke Willian 32nd and Marcel Walkington 36th.
Picked up the fridge in the last 2.5km to slip outside the top 10 – but there were some positives up until that point and in recent times they have been few and far between so I’ll take it. Bit of R&R for a few days and then back into it https://t.co/9PwHhFQKwC
— Aaron Royle (@ARoyle90) June 10, 2018
“But there were some positives up until that point and in recent times they have been few and far between so I’ll take it. Bit of ‘R&R’ for a few days and then back into it.”
Royle has jumped four places on the WTS rankings to 17th to 13 to give Australia three in the top 15 after the first five events of a season that will culminate in the 2018 Grand Finale on the Gold Coast (September 12-16).
The next stop will be Hamburg on July 14 and 15; Edmonton (July 27-29) and Montreal (August 25-26) before the Gold Coast final stop.
Defending champion Mario Mola sits on top of the rankings ladder after his second-place finish behind South African Richard Murray yesterday which saw Frenchman Vincent Luis third.
But things didn’t go all Mola’s way as Murray scooted away to South Africa’s first-ever Olympic distance WTS gold.
“I had a beginner’s mistake today,” said Mario Mola. “I jumped on my bike and when I hit the pedal it hit the floor so I had to get down and fix it. Luckily I had a very good swim so I was able to get in the second pack. From then, I just kept working and today the effort paid off. Congratulations to Richard, he was really strong today. I really liked the course, it’s tough but I liked it.”
The Australian women had a frustrating day in the office with Ashleigh Gentle, Natalie Van Coevorden, Charlotte McShane and Gillian Backhouse all falling by the wayside recording DNFs through the 40km bike leg.
Gentle wrote on Twitter: “Out of Leeds after my pre-race swim yesterday. Things went south.
“Stomach bug or food poisoning flattened me. I lined up to give it a go but unfortunately, I felt incredibly weak and couldn’t hardly push any power.”
The race eventually went to local Vicky Holland in a GBR quinella with youngster Georgia Taylor-Brown taking silver and Katie Zaferes (USA) third.
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