Lizzie Orchard and Ben Forbes Clinch Xterra Australia Crowns

Lizzie Orchard and Ben Forbes showcased endurance and skill to claim victory in Dunsborough, Western Australia.

Lizzie Orchard and Ben Forbes Clinch Xterra Australia Crowns

In a captivating display of endurance, strategy, and skill, Lizzie Orchard and Ben Forbes emerged victorious at the XTERRA Australia on 21 April, 2024. The event, set against the stunning backdrop of Dunsborough, Western Australia, tested athletes' limits and showcased the best of off-road racing.

Orchard, a seasoned XTERRA competitor, demonstrated her strategic ability throughout the race. After a strong swim in the crystal-clear waters of Geographe Bay, where she completed the 1.5km course in 21:21, Orchard made her move on the challenging 30.2km mountain bike course. She hunted down early leader Jacqui Allen before extending her gap heading into the second transition, clocking an impressive 1:33:15 on the bike.

Orchard exclaimed, clearly in her element on the hand-built singletrack trails of Meelup Regional Park.

I wish every XTERRA race could have these bike trails; I had a lot of fun out there today. This really is my kind of race, I love the trails and just want to stay here to ride more!

Despite facing a fierce challenge from Hannah-Lee Young, who finished the bike segment just 1:43 behind Orchard, the New Zealander maintained her lead on the 10.5km run. Navigating the granite coastlines and bushland, Orchard completed the run in 56:01, securing her victory with a total time of 2:52:20, a mere 27 seconds ahead of Young.

The event also saw impressive performances from the other elite women, with Jacqui Allen claiming third (2:55:12), Kate Bramley fourth (3:00:31), and local favorite Kristen Gardner fifth (3:08:42). The camaraderie and support among the elite women were evident, as Gardner noted, "I'd love to acknowledge the camaraderie and support the Elite women had for each other. They were all so stoked to race against each other."

In the men's race, Benjamin Forbes, a rookie on the XTERRA circuit, stunned spectators with his incredible performance. Drawing on his background in mountain biking disciplines like Cross Country, Enduro, and Downhill, Forbes tackled the demanding course with skill and finesse. He completed the swim in a respectable time before unleashing his full potential on the bike course, which played to his strengths.

Forbes shared, clearly relishing the challenge. His prowess on the bike set him up for a strong run, ultimately leading to his first XTERRA victory with a total time of 2:27:08.

The bike leg was super fun – the most singletrack in any XTERRA course I've ever done – it was so fun!

As Lizzie and Ben savoured their hard-fought victories at XTERRA Australia, the triathlon world took notice. Orchard's strategic masterclass and Forbes' rookie win served as a reminder that in the world of off-road racing, anything is possible.