May 2, 2015 (Langkawi, Malaysia) –
Bradley Weiss from South Africa and Myriam Guillot of France won the XTERRA Asian Tour Championship race in Langkawi, Malaysia this morning.
With the win Weiss also secured the Series crown for the men, and Jacqui Slack took the Tour title for the women with a third place finish to hold off Carina Wasle.
The men’s race today was akin to an honorable samurai duel. Weiss and Allen have been going at it for years, and this year in particular. Weiss came out on top in the XTERRA Asian Tour opener in the Philippines. Allen came back and won the next two at XTERRA Saipan and Guam (Weiss was second at both). They forged through different XTERRA World Tour paths after Guam with Allen going to Australia then the U.S. while Weiss went to Reunion Island. Both gave it everything, and it’s been awesome to watch.
“Great way to end the series. Certainly fitting that Ben and I finished 1-2. We didn’t make it easy on ourselves, both racing last weekend on separate continents and then making our way to Malaysia for the grand finale of the Asia Pacific Series,” explained Weiss. “I arrived late Thursday evening and Ben only arrived on Friday mid-morning with less than 24hrs before the gun would set us off. As expected Ben took an early lead on the swim and held it onto the bike. The weather was hot and humid sometimes even misty in the forest with 100% humidity making breathing a struggle. The course was a true test with steep elevation gain on wet trails covered in roots and leaves. Thankfully the animals gave me a clear path but the terrain tested me right to the very end. Ben was solid on the bike and extended his lead to over 2mins after the first lap. With better course knowledge on the second lap I managed to close the gap to roughly 90sec starting the run. After losing to Ben in both Guam and Saipan I was unsure if I would be able to bridge the gap but willing to give a good dig and see if I could get him in sight. Ben has had a rough racing schedule as have I and I knew he must be weary from all the travel. The run course had two big jungle climbs on switch trails but I never got a visual on Ben. I was losing hope but still pushing hard. Cresting the second climb I got a split of 45sec, after the fast slippery descent it was down to 30sec and I was now sure I would catch him. In the distance I could see he was struggling and soon I was on his heels.”
And that was that. Weiss surged past as if he was on roller skates and posted the quickest run split of the day by far in 57:06 to take the crown.
“Thankfully for my sake Ben had burnt his final matches and was unable to respond to my surge as I came by. The remainder of the run was flat and fast so I knew if I just kept the pace steady I would win comfortably. This was indeed the case and I was thrilled to take the Malaysian Championships as well as the inaugural XTERRA Asia Pacific Series Title. Many thanks to all for an awesome few months of racing and special thanks to Ben for making it such an exciting series and pushing me all the way to the very end. Ben is a true competitor and someone I am proud to call a friend.”
As for Allen, he did everything he possibly could. Had the best swim, the best bike, and perhaps even the best attitude but not even that could save his weary legs after a whirlwind of racing and traveling these past few weeks.
“Five races in five different countries over five weeks has broken me,” said an understated Allen after the race. “Today I gave it everything I had and to be honest, I came up short. The travel just to get here has been epic, flying all the way from Vegas last weekend. 24hrs of flying and 36hrs of travel time total, but I didn’t doubt myself one bit. I knew if I didn’t give up and pushed all the way to the end I might have a chance.”
As it turned out Allen had more than just a chance, he nearly pulled it off.
“The Asian Tour races have been special to me over the last couple of years and I would of loved nothing more to have crossed than line first, but I’m my own worst enemy! I think I’m invincible sometimes, biting off more than I can chew. I have to say though it has been one hell of a ride and one that has taught me some valuable lessons both as an athlete and person. For now the journey is all over. I am in total recovery mode and I will spend the time relaxing at home with my family & friends. I’m especially excited to hang out with my nephew Jayden. I can tell you the journey has definitely been worth all the pain. The things I have seen, places I’ve visited & people I have met has been inspirational. I wear my heart on my sleeve and always give 100%. I’m proud of what I have achieved and honored to race in a sport that has given me a gift. To live my life the way I choose.”
Pl Name Time Points
1 Brad Weiss, RSA 2:45:32 200
2 Ben Allen, AUS 2:50:07 180
3 Takahiro Ogasawara, JPN 2:54:24 164
4 Charlie Epperson, USA 3:01:11 150
5 Theo Blignaut, RSA 3:05:45 138
6 Markus Benesch, AUT 3:07:38 126
7 Joe Miller, PHI 3:09:21 116
GUILLOT WINS RACE, SLACK WINS SERIES
In the women’s race Myriam Guillot – an adventure racing and winter sports star from France – came seemingly out of nowhere to win the women’s race. She was way back out of the water but then cranked out the second-best bike and fastest run of the day to take the title.
Lizzie Orchard, who was recently second at XTERRA New Zealand and 5th in Australia, put together the second-best run to work her way into the runner-up spot.
Third-place was just as sweet for Jacqui Slack, who secured the XTERRA Asian Tour Championship as a result.
“Thrilled would be an understatement,” said Slack. “I’ve never won a tour before and to come away with the Asia Pacific title is a dream come true and a testament to my hard work, sacrifice and patience. The race was always going to be hard and the field was stacked. I was leading the whole way however Carina was also very strong it was clear she wanted the title as much as me and she made me race hard. She started to fade at 5k on the run and although I was suffering myself It was an opportunity for me to stay strong and get the job done. Myriam flew by on the run and I knew the win was off the cards it was all about racing Carina then. The run was super long and I was expecting some of the stronger runners like Lizzie to pass which she did just 2k from the end. Both girls looked so fresh and after all the racing so far this year I certainly wasn’t fresh and consolidated a solid 3rd place. I suppose this year I’ve been very consistent. It’s very hard to hold great form through so many races and this one was the toughest by far. I’ve seen my form deteriorate in the last couple of races, and I’m just glad I could tuff this one out to grab the crown. It’s the end of a fantastic tour and it’s been exciting for everyone that it’s been so close. Either Carina or I could have taken the title, she has pushed me all the way through and I’ve enjoyed the battles. A great job to Myriam and Lizzie on very strong performances, and all the tour finishers for being so consistent throughout. I’m now taking a lot of time out to rest, train and improve. I want to go into Maui much stronger this year and the key is to be fresh.”
Carla Van Huyssteen from South Africa, winner of last weekend’s XTERRA Reunion title, took the fourth spot while Wasle came in fifth.
Pl Name Time Points
1 Myriam Guillot, FRA 3:05:56 200
2 Lizzie Orchard, NZL 3:07:46 180
3 Jacqui Slack, GBR 3:09:22 164
4 Carla Van Huyssteen, RSA 3:11:57 150
5 Carina Wasle, AUT 3:15:03 138
6 Helena Erbenova, CZE 3:16:19 126
7 Renata Bucher, SUI 3:20:41 116
8 Mieko Carey, JPN 3:23:26 106
9 Dimity-Lee Duke, AUS 3:26:43 98
10 Daz Parker, GBR 3:41:56 90
Also: Belinda Hadden (82), Shirin Gerami (74)
XTERRA Managing Director Dave Nicholas was on-site, standing courageously in the midst of growling monkey’s, to bring us this report…
“This was no dominating, win from the front race. It was a heavyweight punch-out from the start. The 7:15 start had the pros leading the way with age groupers starting when the pros finished their first lap. Ben Allen went out hard and came out with a one-minute lead on Theo Blignaut but more importantly 90-seconds on his main competition Bradley Weiss.
Ben added a bit to it and had closer to two-minutes on completion of the big first loop of the bike. This moved out to a bit more on the start of the second loop but Weiss was not intimidated.
“I should have come here a bit earlier as I did the first lap of the small loop too slowly. The second time around I made up some time because I knew where I was going” said Weiss.
Into T2 the Aussie Allen had 2 ½ minutes on the South African, but the heat of the day was on us and the sky blue and the sun beat down hard on the jungle. I was eaten alive by mosquitoes every time I ventured into the jungle and at my spot on the run was nearly attacked by monkeys! I was fooling around with a couple young ones who were curious and soon after an older, grey bearded male jumped on branches above me and shook them until the leaves were falling on me and growled fiercely. When it all started I thought the wind had picked up because the trees were swaying but I was wrong. It was about 20 monkeys of this old man’s family coming to see what the growling was about.
But back to the race. Ben was leading at the half-way mark of the run but Brad was coming strong and fast and only 30-seconds back. The quick Weiss caught Ben at the lighthouse and brought it home to win by almost four minutes. Ben was simply fatigued from four straight races on four weekends plus about 25,000 miles of air travel. “I gave it what I could but Brad was too strong today, full congratulations to him.”
Blignaut looked like a sure 3rd place but had bike problems early in the bike and lost too much time. Takahiro Ogasawara posted a very strong bike segment and was never threatened for an excellent 3rd place. “Swim was not so good” smiled the Japan Champion “but the bike was very good”. Then he really smiled and said “Oh the run was so hot.”
Charlie Epperson battled with Markus Benesch for most of the bike but pulled away near the end and kept his fine 4th. Theo never quit and came all the way back to take 5th.
The women’s race was even wilder. The swim was close between Jacqui Slack and Carla van Huyssteen. Out onto the small double loop Jacqui led with Carla falling back about one-minute followed by Carina Wasle and a surprising Lizzie Orchard.
“Lizzie has really started getting serious following some good finishes” said her husband “instead of making sure she saves energy to finish she’s now racing to win”.
Coming up behind Lizzie with a big smile on her face was French adventure racer Myriam Guillot. While I noticed the smile, I did not recognize how confident she looked.
Jacqui continued her lead into T2 but Carla had dropped far back and it was Carina, Lizzie and Carla were now 2nd, 3rd, and 4th with Myriam slightly back.
Both Myriam and Czech Helena Erbenova were coming to Malaysia from an adventure race in China.
“I was in very good fitness from the adventure race, but different fitness from triathlon” said Guillot. “I come from the swim behind by four minutes.”
But Myriam was absolutely flying on the run. First she got past Lizzie, and Lizzie followed her speed and both swept by Carla. Jacqui had been caught by Carina and it was a repeat of the men’s top two fighting each other.
The battle for the Asian Tour series was between Jacqui and Carina and they were literally side by side.
“We were running together, well sometimes walking together” said Slack.
“I don’t know what happened but when we started downhill I just lost all energy” Carina said.
It was all over after that. Carina stopped at an aid station and kept pouring cold water on her head to cool down. But while this was happening, Myriam and Lizzie swept by into 2nd and 3rd and shortly after they passed Jacqui putting the race leader back into 3rd. And so it finished. Formerly unknown Myriam Guillot taking a blistering fast sub 1 hour run in the Malaysian heat to first place (only Bradley Weiss ran faster) and Bradley taking the fastest run of the day to chase down Ben Allen.
If there was a fun part to the run it had to be the river that ebbs and flows depending on the tides. At the finish it was almost high tide and waist deep. Every finisher had to jump down, wade or swim about 30-meters and clamber up the other side and run to finish. “Oh it felt so, so good to get into the water when we were so hot” smiled Mieko Carey.
So the first Asian Tour ends with a super race in Langkawi. A great effort and organization by Major Events Malaysia with Sean Chee heading the company and the never ending energizer race director Dave Spence simply manhandling every problem to the ground and making it all happen. A great staff and a great race. A fitting way to end the Asian Tour for 2015.
XTERRA ASIAN TOUR FINALE
The XTERRA Asian Tour awarded a prize bonus of $10,000 USD to the top five pro men and women in the final standings ($2,000 for 1st, $1,500-2nd, $800-3rd, $400-4th, $300-5th). Racers counted their best three scores to determine champions, with double points on offer here at the finale in Malaysia. In all, more than $100,000 in prize money for pros was awarded on the Asian Tour this year. There were $15,000 USD payouts at the Philippines, Saipan, Guam, and Malaysia races, and $50,000 AUD awarded at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Australia, plus the 10K bonus to the series’ top performers.
Weiss and Slack win the XTERRA Asian Tour series crowns, and here’s a look at the final elite standings
2015 XTERRA Asian Tour Standings (Final)
Best three, Malaysia counted double
Pl Name PHI SAI GUA AUS MAS TOT
1 Brad Weiss, RSA 100 x90 90 x 200 390
2 Ben Allen, AUS x82 100 100 x69 180 380
3 Takahiro Ogasawara, JPN x 82 82 x 164 328
4 Charlie Epperson, USA 69 x 69 x 150 288
5 Markus Benesch, AUT x 75 75 x 126 276
6 Joe Miller, PHI x63 63 63 x 116 242
7 Theo Blignaut, RSA x x x x 138 138
8 Brodie Gardner, AUS 75 x x 58 x 133
9 Kaon Cho, KOR x 53 58 x x 111
10 Braden Currie, NZL x x x 100 x 100
t11 Courtney Atkinson, AUS x x x 90 x 90
t11 Mauricio Mendez, MEX 90 x x x x 90
13 Conrad Stoltz, RSA x x x 82 x 82
14 Olly Shaw, NZL x x x 75 x 75
15 Aleksandr Dorovskikh, RUS x 69 x x x 69
16 Joshua Kenyon, NZL x x x 63 x 63
t17 David Esposito, FRA x 58 x x x 58
t17 Michal Bucek, SVK 58 x x x x 58
19 Jarad Kohler, AUS x x x 53 x 53
20 Kieran McPherson, NZL x x x 49 x 49
21 Mitchell Ginsberg, RSA x x x 45 x 45
Pl Name PHI SAI GUA AUS MAS TOT
1 Jacqui Slack, GBR x90 100 90 x82 164 354
2 Carina Wasle, AUT x 90 100 x63 138 328
3 Mieko Carey, JPN x75 82 82 x 106 270
4 Renata Bucher, SUI x69 75 69 x49 116 260
5 Lizzie Orchard, NZL x x x 69 180 249
6 Daz Parker, GBR x63 69 75 x 90 234
7 Belinda Hadden, AUS x 63 63 x45 82 208
t8 Myriam Guillot, FRA x x x x 200 200
t8 Flora Duffy, BER 100 x x 100 x 200
10 Dimity-Lee Duke, AUS 82 x x x 98 180
11 Carla Van Huyssteen, RSA x x x x 150 150
12 Helena Erbenova, CZE x x x x 126 126
13 Barbara Riveros, CHI x x x 90 x 90
14 Suzie Snyder, USA x x x 75 x 75
15 Shirin Gerami, IRI x x x x 74 74
t16 Caroline Steffen, SUI x x x 58 x 58
t16 Aya Stevens, SVK 58 x x x x 58
18 Jessica Simpson, AUS x x x 53 x 53