The 2015 dirtTRI season is well and truly underway this weekend with XTERRA Championship races in Saipan, Malta, and Costa Rica as well as National events at XTERRA Real in California, XTERRA Camp Eagle in Texas, and XTERRA Axarquía – Costa del Sol in Spain.
Numerous pros will be kicking off their seasons at the Championship events while 2014 XTERRA World Champion, Ruben Ruzafa will open his season with a home race at Axarquía – Costa del Sol. On that note, if you have not seen the promo video for Axarquía – Costa del Sol it should NOT be missed.
Of particularly important note XTERRA Costa Rica will feature a live streaming broadcast Sunday, March 29, starting at 6:45 a.m. MST on www.Teletica.com so be sure to support this rare opportunity and catch all the action as it unfolds LIVE.
In addition to the deep XTERRA action the ITU Cross-Triathlon Series also kicks off this weekend with the Pokhra ASTC Cross Triathlon South Asian Championships in Pokhra, Nepal at the Himalayan Rush Triathlon. We are not certain how this event will unfold since, according to the ITU website there is only one athlete currently entered. However, one cannot always trust the ITU website, but you can always count on dirtTRI.com to bring you all the action no matter how remote.
As usual XTERRA has put together a great preview of this weekend’s Championship events:
Hundreds of amateurs and more than 50 of XTERRA’s fastest elite men and women will toe the start line at one of the three XTERRA championship races being held this weekend.
The “Crown Jewel” of XTERRA is in Saipan, the largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands. There’s a World Tour newcomer in Malta, the largest island in an archipelago in the central Mediterranean. And Costa Rica, although technically not an island, certainly looks and feels like one.
Each will dish out amazing experiences on top of qualifying spots into the 20th XTERRA World Championship race in Maui to the fastest amateurs while elites chase cash and glory.
All three are bucket-list destinations for the adventure traveler … which one do you wish you were going to?
XTERRA SAIPAN – MARCH 28
The “original exotic” race on the XTERRA World Tour returns for the 14th year Saturday and Aussie Ben Allen and Austrian Carina Wasle are back on island to defend their titles.
Saipan is located in the middle of the Western Pacific Ocean, offering up azure colored water, a powder blue sky, light island breezes, and tropical 85-degree days prevail year-round providing the perfect venue for XTERRA.
“The relaxed island lifestyle allows you to unwind and just focus on the simple things in life,” said Allen, who has won the last three Saipan titles.
The place is so alluring that world-class athletes like Olivier Marceau and Renata Bucher make it an annual trek.
“It’s not an XTERRA season without a stay in Saipan,” said Bucher, a seven-time winner here.
It’s a great place to do some early season training, and always offers a classic road tri – the Tagaman – the weekend before or after. This year Tagaman was before XTERRA and won by Allen and Mieko Carey (Bucher was 2nd in the women’s race, Marceau 3rd in the men’s race).
In Saturday’s XTERRA, Allen will be up against XTERRA Philippines Champion Bradley Weiss from South Africa.
While Weiss got the better of Allen in Albay in February this year, Allen was almost 10-minutes faster than Weiss in Saipan last year.
After finishing second at his home race XTERRA South Africa Weiss has been dealing with a painful iliotibial band (IT band) issue that put him on the shelf for a few weeks but is grateful the rest seems to have been positive for him.
“XTERRA Saipan and Guam are races I look so forward to mostly because of the people I get to stay with, and the triathlon community these unique events draw each year,” said Weiss. “I am looking at the next few weeks as a building phase and will be training through most if not all of the races just to try and build my fitness again. I look forward to racing injury free again but I hold no illusions of my current form and know there is a long road ahead to full fitness.”
Other international elites in the mix include former XTERRA Japan Champion Takahiro Ogasawara, Philippines star Joe Miller, Markus Benesch from Austria, David Esposito from New Caledonia, and Aleksandr Dorovskikh from Russia.
In the women’s race last year’s champ, Wasle, will be up against the 2013 Saipan Champ Jacqui Slack from the UK, and the 2012 and 7x Champ Renata Bucher of Switzerland, Daz Parker from London, and local favorite Mieko Carey representing Saipan, Guam, and Japan.
XTERRA first ventured to Saipan in 2002, and 14-years later is still taking racers through caves where Japanese soldiers hid and fought from during the Battle of Saipan in 1944. The race starts on the same beach where Marines launched their attack, then the bike course traverses nearly every inch of the island where the battles took place.
“The dense jungle on island is forever challenging and there is always a hidden gem around every corner,” said Allen.
Triathlete Magazine called it one of the ‘World’s Best” races in 2011, and New York Times bestselling author Marty Dugard wrote about his adventures at XTERRA Saipan in his book, To Be A Runner.
There are a lot of reasons to love Saipan – the people, history, and adventurous course are a few, however, the most recurring comment you’ll hear when talking to alumni, “it’s so much fun.”
The XTERRA Tribe owes a huge debt of gratitude to the island locals who have embraced this race as their own, and particularly Eric Tydingco, who was born in Saipan and also produces the XTERRA Guam Championship. Tydingco has been instrumental in the sports success in the Western Pacific over the past decade, and has also been a force to be reckoned with at the after-parties as part of a band that has rocked the night away following XTERRA races in Saipan, Guam, and Maui races.