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Pros Thoughts on the New XTERRA Pan Am Tour


Change is inevitable. Whether you like it or not, it happens. Much of life is how you handle that change and what you make of it. On December 1st, 2015, Team Unlimited, the owners and producers of the XTERRA World Tour, made one of the biggest changes it’s made to it’s XTERRA American race series since the U.S. Cup Series in 2009. The creation of the new XTERRA Pan American Tour.

For amateur athletes in the U.S., the XTERRA America Tour is still going strong with not much changing (qualifying spots for Maui actually go up despite less regional championship races), but for the professional athletes, this signaled the end of the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series. We reached out to some of the pro athletes, from around the world, who have been part of the U.S. Series for the last few years to get their thoughts on the changes.


Josiah MiddaughJosiah Middaugh – 2015 XTERRA World Champion

I think it could really re-energize some of the pros that might be stale with the same races and open up to some other pro athletes to be competitive, especially in Mexico, Canada, Central and South America.

 


Francisco SerranoPaco Serrano – Winner of the XTERRA West Championship and 2nd at XTERRA Mexico in 2015
It’s really good, like a World Cup circuit, but I think the prize money might not be enough for most of the athletes traveling from North to South America or the other way around specially for those out of the top 3. They talked about helping on lodging and some stuff like that. That’s a good thing, but everyone is going to do the races closest to home. Maybe you will get new athletes fighting for the championship that have not raced together. I think is good news for most of Central and South American, but not to the U.S. athletes who used to have the series at home. I have an Ironman 70.3 a home on the same day as series kickoff. There is no way I can pass on that when the price money for the win is bigger than the whole PAN AM series championship.

Kara LaPointKara LaPoint – Ranked 5th in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series in 2015
My feelings on the announcement of the new Xterra Pan-Am series are mixed. I think it’s fantastic to see XTERRA continuing to evolve and broaden its reach, and ultimately I think that expanding the pro tour beyond the U.S. will help the sport grow and gain more recognition world-wide. I’m also looking forward to checking out some new courses and getting an even more diverse racing experience. However, I was disappointed to see Vegas and Richmond taken off of the schedule, as I really enjoyed both of these long-standing races and appreciated that they were fairly easy to get to and relatively inexpensive. At this point I do feel worried about the increased costs and more challenging logistics of competing in the Pan-Am Tour, with so much more travel required, and especially with not all of the races having equal prize money to the former U.S. Pro Series regional races.

Ben AllenBenny Allen – Winner of the XTERRA Saipan, Germany, and Czech Championships in 2015
I will most probably stick to some of the XTERRA European and Asia Pacific Tour races in 2016. Coming all the way from Australia to race in Europe or the U.S. is extremely difficult. I’m not complaining, I choose this lifestyle and I’m very grateful, but realistically I need to make money to survive and I need to choose races that can offer me some financial reward. So from now on, I will participate in races I know are honest in supporting the athletes and focus on providing my sponsors the best value and exposure I can give them when I race.
 
The sport is life changing and I can only hope that someone out there will jump at an opportunity to be part of a unique community of people changing the face of the world one Off-Road Triathlon race at a time

Chris GanterChris Ganter – Ranked 3rd in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series in 2015
I’m excited about the move to a Pan-American Tour format. Let’s face it, change is always difficult to palate at first.  I am as disappointed as anyone to see some staple races on the U.S. Pro Series go away, especially Richmond.  International racing increases operating costs, but for professional athletes, the move to international racing is an investment worth making. I feel we’re at a cross-roads (no pun intended) with off-road triathlon in North America. This change should in theory, create significant opportunities for professionals and XTERRA in terms of more interesting media content, high quality diverse fields, international race experience, and exposure for sponsors in multiple emerging triathlon markets. Not to mention, it will give professional athletes in those emerging cross-triathlon countries more opportunities to show their ability against deeper professional fields.

Will Kelsay - profile shotWill KelsayReturning U.S. Pro (didn’t race in the 2015 season)
I’m excited to see that XTERRA is taking the initiative to do something new. Change is good. I like change.  That’s not to say that there aren’t things that are sad to see end. The XTERRA East Champs in Richmond, VA was my first race as a pro and other than Keystone and the original Japan (both courses gone too) was one of my absolute favorites. I’m a little nervous that this could have similar affects as the attempted 2009 U.S. Cup series that saw lots of races and travel, but equal/less prize money. I love this sport and it has been my career for the past 10 years. I would like to continue racing until my early 40’s, so figuring out how to make this new tour possible with travel, sponsor representation, and funding is going to be a fun challenge.

Let us know what you think of the XTERRA Pan American Tour in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
If you have  questions about what some of the changes will mean for pro’s and amateurs alike, click here to read XTERRA’s answers to many of the FAQ’s.

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Will Kelsay

Will Kelsay is one of the top cross triathletes in the world with a 10 year career spanning 5 continents competing in more than 18 countries. He has 20 career wins and more than 70 top 5 finishes. Anyone who has met him knows his passion for the sport is only overshadowed by his huge smile & his appetite for fun.

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