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XTERRA Pan Am powers collide in Costa Rica and more from the XTERRA Planet

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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.

A cyclist and tech geek at heart with a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of Australia's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.

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Challenge Roma – The First Big European Challenge Event In 2018

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On April 15, 2018, will be Challenge Roma’s second edition. After its debut in 2017, the Italian capital will be again protagonist of great international triathlon in a new location, the Rome Marina “Porto Turistico di Roma”, with new distances: 1.9 km swimming, 90 km bike, 21 km running. A middle distance like Challenge’s primary races, Challenge Roma will be the first European race of the year too. A chance for triathletes from all over the world to test their athletic preparation, in a very fast and beautiful path, in Roman Spring beginning.

Porto Turistico di Roma will also be home of the Expo Village, which will host numerous side activities for the entire weekend starting from Friday. The involvement of schools and local institutions, and then go on Saturday with the Sprint triathlon, the paratriathlon super sprint, valid as the second stage of the Italian Championship, before the Challenge Roma race on Sunday morning.

Challenge Roma Location

For the second edition of Challenge Roma, a new location was selected: the Porto Turistico di Roma. In fact, Rome extends its borders to the coasts of the Tyrrhenian sea, and its marina is a central point for many activities, thanks to the excellent sea-water quality. Completely renovated, the Marina is close to the Leonardo Da Vinci Fiumicino Airport, and offers a lot of public services including restaurants, shops, children spaces and a long, romantic walk through piers and boats.

Protagonists

What will kick off at the Challenge Roma will be a high-level parterre. Attracted by the charm of the capital and by the calendar that places the race as the first test of the 2018 season in Europe, lots of pro’s are keen to join Challenge Roma second edition and the fair weather of spring.

Among others, the Slovenian Jaroslav Kovacic, 34, the British Will Clarke, 33, the German Andreas Dreitz, 34 years winner of Cervia (Italy) full distance. But they will not be the only ones. Also, the Germans Alexander Schilling, 30, and Michael Goehner, 38, the Spaniards Inaki Baldellou, 29, and Pablo Dapena Gonzalez, 30, the Russian Georgii Kaurov, 25, and the young British George Goodwin, 22 years.

Among the women, all eyes will be on the Italian medium-distance champion Marta Bernardi, 28 years old and the new name of the international triathlon. Two skilled athletes will challenge her: the Dutch Yvonne Van Vlerken, 39, and Britain’s Caroline Livesey, 38 years old, and Sofie Goos, 28 years old from Belgium. In addition to them also the Hungarian Gabriella Zelinka, 27, the young Russian Mariia Bibicheva, just 21 years old, the Czech Simona Krivankova, 35, the two Belgian Sofie Goos and Karen Steurs, respectively 37 and 38 years, and the Croatian Sonja Skevin, 23 years old.

Paratriathlon, 2nd Stage Italian Championship

The long weekend of the Challenge Roma will host Saturday, April 2 at 2 pm the 2nd stage of the Italian Paratriathlon championship on the Super Sprint distance (0.4 km of swimming, 10 km of bike, 2.5 km of running). At the start over 40 athletes for a parterre of the highest level led by the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze Giovanni Achenza in addition to Italian champion pts5 Gianfilippo Mirabile and multi-champion champion Veronica Plebani.

Challenge Roma Sprint

Saturday, April 14 will be staged, starting at 10.30, also a race Sprint distance (750 m swimming, 20 km cycling and 5 km running) open to all members of the Italian and International Triathlon Federation. The route will develop almost entirely within the Port of Rome, with the exception of the cycling village that will “stretch” on the seafront in a 5 km circuit to be repeated 4 times. The stretch is completely flat.

Time Schedule

It all starts on Friday, April 13, from 10 am with the Duathlon School promotional event, dedicated to schools: children will compete in the area inside the Marina.

From 2 pm, the afternoon will be dedicated to the public with the opening of the Triathlon Expo, where brands and technical equipment dedicated to the discipline will be exhibited. Saturday, April 14th we start with Challenge Sprint triathlon at 10.30 a.m., followed by Paratriathlon Super Sprint at 2 p.m., valid as the second stage of the Italian Championship series and then finish at 4 p.m. with the Challenge Duathlon Kids dedicated to kids and youngsters of Lazio’s triathlon schools. Also, in the afternoon, starting at 4.30 p.m., Challenge Roma briefing (Ita and Eng) in view of the main event of the following day.

Sunday, April 15 will be the day of the Challenge Roma, which starts at 13.15 am. From 5.15 it is expected the leading athletes arrival who will be rewarded immediately with the Flower Ceremony, a characteristic symbol of CHALLENGEFAMILY.

The long triathlon weekend will close up in the evening with the Award Ceremony and live music “farewell party” starting at 9 pm.

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Challenge Family Introduces A World Ranking For Pro-athletes

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Challenge has decided to expand the successful European Money Ranking in 2018 to a so-called Challenge World Ranking. This means that professional Athletes can earn points not only in European races but also in races outside of Europe. The earned points count up in a final ranking at the end of the season with a total bonus prize purse of $165.000.

With this World Ranking, Challenge rewards the pro-athletes racing the series and results in having the best professionals racing head-to-head in the Challenge races. “We strongly believe that the professional Athletes are the ambassadors of our wonderful sport. We have seen strong racing and amazing winners in the European Ranking the last two years. We are happy to extend this to a worldwide ranking first time in 2018 ” says Zibi Szlufcik, CEO of Challenge.

The first races to be added to the ranking in the 2018 season are Challenge Taiwan, Challenge Sangil (Mexico), Challenge Aasia-Pacific Championship (Taiwan) and Challenge Daytona (USA). All European races remain part of the ranking.

The total prize purse $165.000 for the worldwide ranking will pay 5 deep for both male and female athletes. The overall winners will take home $30.000. Second place will earn $20.000, third and fourth place $15.000 and $12.000 consecutively and fifth place winner will pocket $5.000. In the event of a tie, the prize money will be averaged between the two athletes and corresponding places.

The points system that leads to the final ranking will remain the same as last year’s European ranking. This is based on points earned by the athlete’s six best Challenge race results of the season, of which no more than two can be long distance races, which earn double points. The Championship is also included in the World Ranking, with more points to collect then regular middle distance races.

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Laura Siddall Looks To Go Back To Back at Ironman Australia

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The 2018 season has kicked off with a bang for Laura Siddall breaking through to pick up the Ironman New Zealand title in March, and she is looking to continue her winning form when she heads to Port Macquarie (6 May) to defend her Ironman Australia crown.

Siddall, who represented England as a junior in 400m hurdles and netball, began her love affair with triathlon while she was working in Australia on a two-year contract with Shell Oil and she was soon on a rampage loading her trophy case full of age-group championships across the globe over all distances.

Siddall eventually made the leap the pro ranks and continued her love affair with Port Macquarie that started with her first half distance triathlon at Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie back in October 2009.

“Ironman Australia will be my last race in the Southern Hemisphere before I migrate north for the European summer. It is an important race for me, as I won last year, so want to come back and show my support for the event and the people of Port Macquarie.”

“It is also important to me because the race has so much history and was very much part of my early days in the sport. It is pretty much a local race where I started triathlon, so many friends will be participating and competing as well, over both the full and 70.3 distances.”

“While Ironman Australia may be an early season race for many, it will be my fourth race of 2018 and second Ironman, having won Ironman New Zealand in March. Expectations as always to continue the build in my training and race performance globally as an athlete.”

“Ironman Australia is very much part of that development and learning. It’s always about transferring the training into the race and executing a performance that I can be proud of and pushes myself to the limits. If I focus on that, then hopefully I am somewhere in the right place at the end of the day.”

“Ironman Australia is one of the historic races around the world. It truly comes alive with the amazing support in Port Macquarie. The course is tough and gritty but has wonderful crowd encouragement.  With the likes of Matthew Flinders Hill on the bike, the tri club alley on the run, it really does make the races pretty special and a brilliant atmosphere,” Laura said.

This year is the 40th anniversary year of the birth of Ironman and Laura is thankful for the huge influence the sport has been on her life as an athlete.

“It is awesome to see the sport grow over the past few years, not just the 40 years. If I think back to when I was growing up in the UK, I didn’t have a clue about triathlon. It was only when I was in Australia, where the sport was, at that time so much bigger, that I discovered it. But now, almost 10years later, I see how big the sport is in the UK, thanks to the likes of Chrissie Wellington but also the Brownlee brothers.”

“In the early years of my time in the sport, my friends and family wouldn’t have heard of triathlon, yet now I have all sorts of people contacting me saying they’ve signed up for a race or event and are training for a triathlon. It’s fantastic.”

“I started the sport as a complete beginner, and I’m now a professional and grateful for the opportunity to follow something I love, and to live my passion day to day. I travel the world training and racing and I know I’m incredibly privileged to do this. It is a lifestyle and has a wonderful community. I’ve met so many amazing people around the world, and heard so many incredible stories. It has given me some fantastic experiences and ‘pinch myself’ moments that I could never have believed or dreamed of,” she said.

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Australia Takes Gold in Commonwealth Games Mixed Relay Triathlon, Gentle Celebrates Big Comeback

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The Australian mixed relay team win gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Photo: Triathlon Australia/Delly Carr

The Australian team won on its own turf in Saturday’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games mixed team relay triathlon. The team included Ashleigh Gentle, Matthew Hauser, Jake Birtwhistle, and Gillian Backhouse. Birtwhistle secured the victory in 01:17:36, 52 seconds ahead of England’s team and 01:52 ahead of the bronze winners of New Zealand.

For Birtwhistle, the mixed relay marked a Commonwealth Games podium streak after he nearly closed a wide gap behind South Africa’s Henri Schoeman, in the run leg of Thursday’s men’s triathlon, and won a silver. For Gentle, it was a major comeback story after she missed the Thursday podium by two positions.

Ashleigh Gentle Excels in Relay

Gentle, the third member on the course, made up for a 15-second deficit in the 250m swim leg by handing Birtwhistle a 39-second lead during the 1.5km run, easing his sprint to victory.

Gentle didn’t have it easy. She struggled with Thursday’s silver winner, Jessica Learmonth of Britain, during the entire 7km bike leg, which they completed together. Learmonth had a slight mishap while dismounting her bike, giving Gentle an opportunity to sprint ahead of her in the run before handing the final run stretch to her teammate.

A Tough Week for the Brownlee Brothers

Birtwhistle commanded a solid, and growing lead, over two-time Olympic champion, Alistair Brownlee of England. Brownlee had a rough week after realizing he did not give a prior calf injury enough time to recover. His brother, Jonny, was also recovering from a leg injury.

Who Australia was Up Against

England had a truly all-star team. Other than the Brownlee brothers and Learmonth, the team also included Vicky Holland. In the individual triathlon race, Learmonth and Holland claimed silver and bronze behind Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, who finished in 00:56:50, 43 seconds ahead of Learmonth.

The New Zealand quartet had Tayler Reid, Nicole van der Kaay, Andrew Hewitt, and Ryan Sissons. Sissons, a last minute replacement for Tony Dodds, claimed fifth in the individual triathlon. Dodds finished in 16th. Pundits had high expectations for Hewitt this year, but she finished 13thin the individual race.

 

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XTERRA New Zealand returns to Rotorua for 16th year this Saturday

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Sam Osborne and Jacqui Allen are back to defend their elite titles at the 16th annual XTERRA New Zealand Championship race at Lake Tikitapu in Rotorua on Saturday.

For Osborne, a Rotorua native and the reigning XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champion, it marks the start of another ambitious season of XTERRA racing.

“I’m feeling good & ready,” said Osborne, who won five majors and finished second in the European Tour rankings last year.  “I’ve had a very consistent block of training with no interruptions, and that can only be a good thing.”

Osborne will need to come out of the gates sharp if he is to defend the hometown crown in front of a raucous crowd sure to be filled with his family and friends. The field is stacked with Kiwi greats and Aussie star Ben Allen who has 18 career wins of his own, including two in Rotorua (2012 and 2013).

“Yeah, I’ve seen Benny’s made the trip over earlier than normal, so he’s clearly giving the race and the course a great deal of respect,” said Osborne.  “There’s plenty of big mountain bikers in the field to be concerned about as well. We’re racing at one of the best bike parks in the world and with the swim only being 1km here, it puts a lot of those guys right in the mix. Watch out for Hayden (Wilde) too.  He is coming off a decent racing block with ITU, so you know he’ll be sharp, and he’s not someone you take lightly on the start list.”

Of note, the bike course has seen some significant changes this year, and the new arena is a good one says Osborne.

“The new course is great.  Organizer Frank Clarke has done a good job to get it to flow so well. Rotorua is like a playground of trails so to have a course that links up some of the best cross-country trails we have means it’ll be one of the best bike courses in the world. The talk around the course is its a bit flatter than before but there is a lot of power climbing on loose gravel in there which is incredibly leg sapping. And re-introducing Split Enz was a great move, it’s a trail that has got a lot of free speed if you invest in working the bike down it.  It’s pretty physical to ride it fast but that’s the sort of stuff the mountain bikers can strut their stuff on.”

Wilde, a two-time 15-19 division XTERRA World Champion, finished three minutes behind Osborne in second-place last year and says he’s excited to ditch the road for the dirt this weekend.

“Can’t wait to get back on the trails where it all started and compete at XTERRA again,” said Wilde. “For me, this will be my only XTERRA this year as from May to August I’ll be in Europe racing WTS and World Cups to get as much experience and racing in as possible. I am finding the road stuff fast and exciting, but I miss XTERRA.  Nothing compares to the off-road XTERRA feel and that’s where my triathlon career started so I just love it and can’t wait to race this weekend.”

Keep an eye out for Wilde, as his goal is the 2020 games and the pursuit of the Olympic dream, “but a return to Maui someday is in the cards for sure, I love that place,” he said.

The seemingly endless string of super strong Kiwi XTERRA racers carries on with the likes of Lewis Ryan, the youngest of the Rotorua crew at just 19-years of age.  Ryan won the overall XTERRA Pan Am Championship amateur title two years ago and will make his elite debut on Saturday.

“Lining up with the big boys from here on out,” said the ever-cheerful Ryan.  “Definitely an awesome opportunity and something I’m super stoked to commit too. Making it even more special is that I’m able to pin on my first pro number at home here in Rotorua, so my excitement levels are peaking!”

Ryan said he grew up watching the “old guard” XTERRA pros and feels honoured to toe the line with the legends.

“I’ve been pre-riding the course the last couple days with Ben and Jacqui Allen and it’s brought back a whole load of memories,” he explained. “I grew up watching Ben have some epic battles here and as a kid who knew nothing about triathlon and was just at XTERRA Rotorua to support my Dad, these guys like Ben made the sport look so attractive.  It’ll be special to line up beside one of the good guys of the sport who I’ve idolized since day one.”

As for who he thinks the favourites should be, Ryan says “it’s Sam, Hayden, Ben and Olly Shaw. Olly (also from Rotorua) is always a player here, and they’re all phenomenal athletes.  In terms of the actual race, everyone knows it’s going to be a fast swim. Ben and Sam have proven themselves as some of the best fish in the sea. Going out onto the new bike course, the race dynamic will be a little bit different to previous years and I think it’ll make for an exciting showdown. There’s going to be plenty of opportunities to put moves in over different sections of the course. There’s no obvious make or break sector so I think we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens. For myself, I’ve got certain sections of trail that seem to have a nice flow about them which should make for some good fun come Saturday. My actual goals are completely different to previous races, as I’m really going into it totally relaxed. It’ll be my first time lining up as a pro, so I just want to enjoy the moment and embrace the atmosphere.”

Other elite men on the line include XTERRA veteran Alex Roberts from Taupo and Rodney Bell from Australia.

In the women’s race, Jacqui Slack from Great Britain will be gunning for her third Rotorua crown (she also won in 2012).

“It’s awesome to be back here in Rotorua,” said Slack, who also won XTERRA Tahiti and finished 2nd on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour last year.  “The weather is being kind and the trails are dry and fast. I’m feeling great and training has been going well so I’m ready to kick off the Asia-Pacific Tour. As always, there will be some solid competition from the Kiwi ladies making sure it’s a close race along with our Aussie lass Penny Slater.”

Of note amongst those Kiwi, ladies is Hannah Wells, who was second to Slack here last year, and Kristy Jennings, the reigning 35-39 XTERRA World Champion who will be making her debut in the elite field on Saturday should injuries she suffered in a bike crash last week subside.

“I’m going to ride the mountain bike course to see how I feel and will make the call then,” said Jennings, who also has XTERRA Danao, Tahiti, and Albay on her docket this season.  “It’s a 50/50 chance of racing right now which is super disappointing, but we’ll see.”

Other female elites on the line include Aussie Leela Hancox, who finished fourth at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race in Malaysia last year, and Laura Mira from Brazil, who was fourth in the XTERRA Pan Am Pro Series last season.

XTERRA New Zealand is the first of four races on the 2018 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour, which heads to the Philippines for the one-day Asia-Pacific Championship race in Danao on April 22, follows with XTERRA Tahiti in Moorea on May 11, and wraps up in Albay (Philippines) on June 17.

XTERRA NEW ZEALAND ALL-TIME ELITE WINNERS
Year Men Women
2003 Sam Mallard Evelyn Willamson
2004 Hamish Carter Sonia Foote
2005 Hamish Carter Sonia Foote
2006 Hamish Carter Gina Ferguson
2007 Tim Wilding Gina Ferguson
2008 Terenzo Bozzone Sonia Foote
2009 Richard Ussher Nicola Leary
2010 Scott Thorne Nicola Leary
2011 Richard Ussher Karen Hanlen
2012 Ben Allen Jacqui Slack
2013 Ben Allen Renata Bucher
2014 Conrad Stoltz Barbara Riveros
2015 Braden Currie Suzie Snyder
2016 Braden Currie Lizzie Orchard
2017 Sam Osborne Jacquie Allen

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Ironman Foundation and Challenged Athletes Foundation Team Up for Junior Seau Adaptive Surf Clinic in Oceanside

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The Ironman Foundation will hold its second service project of the 2018 season with an adaptive surf clinic that will include specialized sessions for youth, women and military/adults with physical challenges as part of the Junior Seau Foundation Adaptive Youth Surf Program presented by Challenged Athletes Foundation, taking place on Sunday, April 8, 2018. In addition, the Ironman Foundation will distribute over $33,000 in charitable giveback to non-profit initiatives and groups in the greater Oceanside, California community in conjunction with the 2018 Ironman70.3Oceanside triathlon taking place on Saturday, April 7.

The clinic will host three specialized sessions that will total up to 30 kids, women and military/adults with physical challenges who will spend the morning learning to paddle and surf at Oceanside Pier with the assistance of volunteers including professional and age-group triathletes and coaches. The Junior Seau Foundation Adaptive Surf Program presented by Challenge Athletes Foundation provides the opportunity for participants with physical challenges to learn how to surf, improve their skills and ultimately share in a lifestyle sport that so many in Southern California enjoy, while celebrating the legacy of Junior Seau, the former San Diego Chargers linebacker who lived in Oceanside and surfed regularly.

“We are very grateful to the Junior Seau Foundation, the Ironman Foundation and all the athletes who will come out to help advance our program to teach and develop the next wave of challenged athletes in Adaptive Surfing,” said Virginia Tinley, CAF Executive Director. “This clinic offers everyone that participates in a truly special and life-changing opportunity to make an impact in this community. We are excited to see some of these attendees catch their first waves and stand on their surfboards for the first time.”

The Ironman Foundation Community Fund provides community and volunteer grant opportunities to non-profit organizations where North American Ironman events are held. In 2018, the Ironman Foundation will distribute more than $1.7 million in grant funding to support the needs of Ironman race communities across North America, including a grant program to support organizations with a volunteerism component.

“We are honoured to support so many outstanding local community organizations and for our ongoing partnership with Challenged Athletes Foundation,” said Sarah Hartmann, Acting Executive Director of the Ironman Foundation. “The adaptive surf clinic is an extraordinary opportunity for our athletes to connect with CAF heroes and create a lasting and tangible impact in Oceanside.”

To register for the Ironman Foundation 2018 Junior Seau Foundation Adaptive Surf Clinic presented by Challenged Athletes Foundation as a participant, surf coach or volunteer, please visit www.ironmanfoundation.org/oceanside.

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