Triathlon Legend Timothy O'Donnell Takes on New Challenge at XTERRA Québec

American triathlon legend Timothy O'Donnell sets his sights on conquering the off-road challenge at XTERRA Québec in July 2024.

Triathlon Legend Timothy O'Donnell Takes on New Challenge at XTERRA Québec
Tim O'Donnell at XTERRA Beaver Creek

After wrapping up an illustrious career in long-distance triathlon, American Timothy O'Donnell is excited to tackle a new frontier by racing at the upcoming XTERRA Québec off-road triathlon on 14th July, 2024. The event, which is part of the 2024 XTERRA World Cup series, will bring together the world's top off-road triathletes in the scenic Canadian province.

O'Donnell, who has numerous victories and podium finishes at major global triathlon events over his 21-year career, sees XTERRA as an opportunity to challenge himself in new ways. "XTERRA had always been on my triathlon bucket list, but my dedication to Kona kept me away," he said, referring to the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii where he was a perennial top American finisher.

The 43-year-old got his first taste of XTERRA racing last year at the 2023 XTERRA USA Championship in Beaver Creek, Colorado. "It's such a different animal and it's humbling being out there with the best in the world. I learned so much just watching the guys," O'Donnell reflected. "That's why I got into triathlon 21 years ago, to challenge myself, and now to do it in a different way is pretty cool."

To prepare for the demanding XTERRA course, which includes a swim through Lac Delage, fast-flowing mountain bike trails, and a rugged trail run, O'Donnell plans to focus heavily on improving his mountain biking skills this spring by working with a specialist in Boulder, Colorado where he resides. "I definitely raced below my fitness level last year since I lacked ability on the bike, so if I can't get that down then it will be a long day," he admitted.

Mentally and physically, however, O'Donnell says he feels great and is "motivated, excited and a bit nervous" to be challenging himself in a new way with XTERRA. As for race strategy, he plans to leverage his swim prowess to get out of the water in the lead group and then "hang on as long as I can" on the bike and run. "Last year in Beaver Creek, I made sure to not screw up anyone's race and get out of the way on the bike. With a little better preparation, I hope to be able to make them work for it to get around me," O'Donnell joked.

While winning is no longer the singular goal now that he has officially retired from IRONMAN racing, O'Donnell remains driven by his pure love for the sport and desire to stay fit, active and healthy. He's also excited to share the experience with his family, as he and his wife, fellow triathlete Mirinda Carfrae, plan to bring their three kids to enjoy Québec during their summer break.

When asked about competing against the top men in the XTERRA field, O'Donnell expressed humility and respect. "I'm absolutely humbled to compete with the other XTERRA World Cup guys, they are amazing athletes! At Beaver Creek last year, I felt like a spectator on the bike, watching them ride by me. It was a free lesson for me."

After XTERRA Québec, O'Donnell looks forward to ticking off another bucket list race, the S.O.S. Triathlon in Italy in September. But for now, his sights are firmly set on embracing the challenge and atmosphere of off-road racing in one of Canada's most beautiful settings. As he puts it, after suffering a heart attack in 2021, "I realised life is short so we need to live it up."

With his vast experience, enduring passion and newfound perspective, Timothy O'Donnell is sure to be an inspiring figure to watch at XTERRA Québec and beyond as he helps showcase the past, present and future of the sport.