Two-time Australian Olympian Courtney Atkinson has confirmed he will race at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Callala Beach, Jervis Bay, next month.
The 35-year-old from the Gold Coast was second overall at the inaugural event last year and captured the XTERRA Australia Championship title for being the top Aussie in the field.
The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship, which again doubles as the XTERRA Australia Championship, is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.
“XTERRA puts me that little bit on edge racing in an environment that is not my normal playing field and I dig that fact,” said Atkinson, who is also in the midst of trying to make the Australian triathlon Olympic team for the third time so he can race for gold in Rio next summer.
“I’m coming back to race XTERRA because “I” want to. Last year me and my mates came down to Jervis Bay and made a weekend out of it. We had a great time racing and good nights at the RSL club, it reminded me a lot of triathlon when I first started as a young guy.”
Despite spending most of his training time on the road Atkinson says he does still jump on his mountain bike and adds that the power riding in XTERRA is good training too.
“About 95% of my riding is on road now, but I do get to take the mountain bike out after my long run at my local trails to warm down and that at least keeps my feel for the bike,” said Atkinson.
“To be honest I believe the mountain bike riding helps for the Olympic racing more than the Ironman stuff. We are really up and down on power in ITU just like a hard mountain bike race. There are dangers riding fast in packs on the road, but at least in mountain biking you are in control of the risks. Obviously I don’t go crazy like some of the boys do when racing XTERRA.”
Last year at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship Atkinson was the first man out of the swim by a full minute, but that lead didn’t last.
“Straight in, first mud hole, I got the first big crash done,” laughed Atkinson after the race. “I thought I’d be able to hold a lead but it seems the fire tracks are as hard as the single track on this course.”
Dan Hugo, Ben Allen, and Roger Serrano bridged the gap to Atkinson within the first few kilometers of the bike, then the eventual winner Hugo got some daylight and drove a wedge between himself and the rest of the field. By the bike-to-run transition Hugo had three minutes on Serrano and Allen, and roughly six minutes to Braden Currie, Bradley Weiss, and Atkinson. Atkinson showed off some amazing foot speed by picking off everyone in front of him but Hugo with the fastest run split of the day by far.
“When I heard I was six minutes down I didn’t think I could bridge that no matter how well I ran but I heard that Benny (Allen) was two minutes up so starting thinking about winning the XTERRA Australia title and pushed,” explained Atkinson.
About the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship (April 18 – Callala Beach, Jervis Bay, NSW)
As the most prestigious event in the Asia-Pacific series that includes championship races in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Guam, Tahiti, and Saipan – the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship will offer $50,000 in prize money to the sport’s top professional athletes and produce a television show for international distribution.
The main event combines a 1.5-kilometer ocean swim at Callala Beach, approximately two and a half hours south on Sydney, with 30-kilometers of mountain biking followed by 10-kilometers of trail running. The event lures amateur and professional athletes from around the world to New South Wales, and locals flock to the event in pursuit of XTERRA Australia Championship honours. The off-road sports festival weekend also includes a sprint distance off-road triathlon, trail runs, and relay team competitions attracting more than 500 competitors of all ages.
For more information and links to registration visit www.xterraasiapacific.com.
The XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. Presenting sponsors include John Paul Mitchell Systems, the world’s largest privately owned professional salon hair care company, Outrigger Resorts – one of the largest and fastest growing privately-held leisure lodging, retail and hospitality companies in the Asia-Pacific and Oceania regions, and XTERRA Wetsuits & Boards Australia – the official swim sponsor.