April 18, 2015 (Callala Beach, NSW) – Braden Currie and Flora Duffy won the men’s and women’s elite titles at the 2nd annual XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race at Callala Beach in Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia this afternoon.
After a wet Friday that soaked pre-riders and runners, the clouds and rain gave way to bright sunshine Saturday morning and near-perfect racing conditions, except of course, for the slick roots and muddy trails that the rain left behind. It turned intermediate routes into technical tracts and clean racing kits into mud-splattered ensembles.
In the men’s race the adverse conditions played right into the strengths of Braden Currie, one of the best adventure racers in the world.
“It was awesome, it was wet, it was muddy, it was actually quite technical because it was so loose but it’s stuff that you don’t get hurt on so you can hit it as hard as you can and if you crash you jump back up and go again,” said Currie.
The 28-year-old from Wanaka came out of the swim about the same time as Conrad Stoltz in 18:06, and trailed Courtney Atkinson and Ben Allen by about one-minute. Atkinson and Allen were up front on the bike early until the course got into some of the twisting tree lines.
“I knew it was going to be some pretty hard racing,” said Currie. “I caught Courtney on some of that single track and Ben sort of got stuck behind him and I made myself a bit of a gap and just extended that lead thru the end of the bike. I knew me and Courtney would have a pretty hard run battle if we were close, so I tried to put everything I could into that bike.”
The strategy paid off, and he posted the fastest bike split of the day in 1:24:03 (Stoltz was 1:24:23) which was more than six-minutes better than Atkinson. The way the two-time Olympian Atkinson can run, it was a necessary cushion.
“I knew when Braden was the first to catch me I was in trouble,” said Atkinson, who moved up from fifth off the bike to second by the finish by posting the fastest run split of the day (35:30) by two minutes. “Pretty cool to win the XTERRA Australian title for the third year in a row and ya know Braden, he’s not the world’s best adventurer for no reason. I came down twice on the bike today on some slippery stuff. It’s a challenge for me. There were times on the bike when I was thinking that I could get off and run faster than this, and much less dangerously. I know overseas they have sloppy, jungle XTERRA’s but this is probably the first time I’ve experienced this level of mud. I ran as quick as I could but the thing with XTERRA is the bike kills your legs. It was a tough day at the muddy office.”
For Stoltz, who was still pretty sick leading into race day, just being able to compete was a win.
“I wouldn’t have imagined a podium today,” said Stoltz, the four-time XTERRA World Champ who had to miss out on XTERRA South Africa in February and last weekend at XTERRA New Zealand due to illness. “Yesterday I didn’t think I was going to race but I woke up this morning feeling much, much better. I was just happy to be out there. Swimming felt alright but when I got out on the bike I felt pretty bad the first half. Every time I tried to push I just felt like there were insects crawling around on my head, it didn’t feel good at all, so I was losing time on Braden and the guys but I said to myself at least I’m participating which is better than watching. From there I just tried to stay steady so I could finish in the prize money but then all of a sudden in the last third of the ride I could see Ben and Courtney, and couldn’t figure out why I was making time on them. I was surprised to get off the bike in second, and on the run I knew I couldn’t push. The moment I started pushing I felt really bad so I tried to keep it steady and was second until just about 2k from the end when Courtney got by.”
“The Caveman” ultimately finished third, just ahead of Olly Shaw and Ben Allen, and had high praise for the guys in front of him.
“Two very honorable athletes in front of me, so no worries losing to those guys,” said Stoltz, who has 51 career titles of his own. “They are both real gentlemen and great athletes. Braden is very, very talented and I would say his biggest asset is his head. He’s very driven and his head is very strong. Plus, he’s a nice guy and down to earth. He’s the real deal.”
Shaw, the 23-year-old from Rotorua who was third last weekend at his hometown race, was thrilled to be in the mix and living the XTERRA lifestyle.
“Pretty happy, it’s an amazing field here. The highlight was catching Courtney on the bike. It’s my first season I’ve been up there and able to compete with these guys, and it’s just awesome,” said Shaw, who was third in New Zealand last weekend and will go on to race at XTERRA Tahiti next weekend. “Living a pretty good life, eh. I love training for it and really lucky to have these great events around the world to race at. The atmosphere is so awesome.”
Ben Allen, fresh off wins at XTERRA Saipan and XTERRA Guam, finished in fifth, with Josh Kenyon in sixth, Brodie Gardner seventh, Jarad Kohler, Kieran McPherson, and Mitchell Ginsberg rounding out the top 10.
TOP 10 MEN
Pos Name, Country Time Swim Bike Run
1 Braden Currie, NZL 2:23:37 0:18:06 1:24:03 0:37:32
2 Courtney Aktinson, AUS 2:26:23 0:17:00 1:30:26 0:35:30
3 Conrad Stoltz, RSA 2:27:12 0:18:06 1:24:23 0:40:31
4 Olly Shaw, NZL 2:27:50 0:19:48 1:25:25 0:38:35
5 Ben Allen, AUS 2:30:54 0:17:19 1:26:51 0:42:22
6 Josh Kenyon, NZL 2:34:08 0:20:31 1:28:47 0:40:43
7 Brodie Gardner, AUS 2:39:25 0:19:45 1:31:54 0:43:09
8 Jarad Kohlar, AUS 2:40:03 0:21:05 1:31:22 0:43:44
9 Kieran McPherson, NZL 2:41:45 0:19:23 1:35:53 0:42:05
10 Mitchell Ginsbert, RSA 2:41:53 0:20:12 1:33:04 0:44:05
DUFFY DEFENDS APAC TITLE
Flora Duffy took most of the drama right out of the women’s race right from the start with another dominating performance on her way to her 10th XTERRA Championship win in 11 tries since the start of the 2014 season.
The 27-year-old two-time Olympian from Devonshire, Bermuda had the fastest swim (almost two minutes over Barbara Riveros), the quickest bike (more than two minutes over Riveros) and the second-best run split (less than one-minute behind Riveros) to take the tape in 2:36:40, a full three-minutes in front of Riveros.
Of note, Riveros was also the runner-up to Duffy at last year’s XTERRA World Championship and the pair are amongst the very best on the highly competitive ITU World Triathlon Series.
“It was a tough day out there,” said Duffy. “I really wanted to defend this title, and it’s a lot harder defending. I seem to be the favorite no matter what. I wanted to attack the swim and nail the bike, ride the technical bits as best I could. I had a few issues out there, though, with a couple mechanicals and a little crash. It was super muddy. Then I just tried to run steady, and not push too hard. I’m really happy with how it went.”
Duffy, who was fifth at the ITU WTS race on the Gold Coast here in Australia last week, now heads back to her home-away-from-home in South Africa for next weekend’s ITU race.
“Flora is on fire, she’s very strong. I knew it. She’s racing good in ITU as well and I’m super happy for her,” said Riveros, who was in second the whole way but still had her share of misfortune. “I fell in the mud puddles, didn’t realize it was so deep, and I couldn’t get out of there. The guy behind was asking if I needed help getting out of there. But it was great, a beautiful course, and I’m happy to have raced here and qualify for XTERRA Worlds.”
Behind Riveros Jacqui Slack was in third and in control, Suzie Snyder was fourth, and Lizzie Orchard ran her way into fifth.
“Mud!” said Jacqui Slack, as if the one word could describe the whole day. “Wow, that’s a really tough course. It’s awesome but you have to keep pedaling all the time, a real power course. There’s no let up, you can’t rest and in the muddy sections you have to keep pushing all the time. The competition was amazing here, and it was really close at the end for the third through fifth positions.”
Indeed it was, with just one-minute separating Slack, Snyder, and Orchard. Carina Wasle finished sixth and covered in mud, Caroline Steffen was seventh in her XTERRA debut, Jessica Simpson placed eight and won the XTERRA Australia title for being the top Aussie, and Renata Bucher and Belinda Hadden rounded out the top 10.
Steffen, of Ironman fame, had a big smile and lots of stories to tell at the finish line.
“It’s awesome. Lot of fun. Bit muddy and dirty, but I really enjoyed it,” said Steffen. “And, I’m happy to be at the finish line in one piece, my coach was so worried. This is an awesome place, a great event with great organization. I’ve never run on the beach before. In Ironman we’re on the road three times longer, and we try to keep a steady heart rate, fast but steady. Here it’s red-lining the whole time. My body was screaming, like what are you doing to me. That was quite painful. Actually very proud of my performance. I went off a few times but apparently that’s normal. And in the forest it’s so green, I actually thought I was in the movie Lord of the Rings and was a bit scared being out there all alone. There were puddles and mud everywhere, and the sun was coming in through the trees. To be able to run through the forests was good fun, we don’t get that on the road. It’s so different. Swim, bike, and run but just so, so different. I really enjoyed it.”
Steffen hinted at a possible run for the “Outrigger Double” – an award given to the top amateur and professional athletes with the best combined times at Ironman and XTERRA Worlds.
“Maybe after Kona I’ll go to Maui, why not!” exclaimed Steffen. “It looks beautiful, and if my performance today was good enough I wouldn’t turn it down.”
TOP 10 WOMEN
Pos Name, Country Time Swim Bike Run
1 Flora Duffy, BER 2:36:40 0:17:24 1:34:27 0:40:26
2 Barbara Riveros, CHI 2:39:47 0:19:15 1:36:41 0:39:31
3 Jacqui Slack, GBR 2:47:06 0:20:19 1:37:37 0:44:46
4 Suzie Snyder, USA 2:47:53 0:20:29 1:39:11 0:43:34
5 Lizzie Orchard, NZL 2:48:08 0:21:25 1:41:13 0:41:07
6 Carina Wasle, AUT 2:52:36 0:22:01 1:40:15 0:45:18
7 Caroline Steffen, SUI 2:56:52 0:19:38 1:48:51 0:43:20
8 Jessica Simpson, AUS 2:57:17 0:21:49 1:44:29 0:46:13
9 Renata Bucher, SUI 3:08:40 0:22:18 1:47:00 0:53:51
10 Belinda Hadden, AUS 3:12:34 22:24 1:55:05 49:15:00
LANG, DAVIS WIN XTERRA ASIA-PACIFIC AMATEUR TITLES
Tim Lang and Jennifer Davis were the top amateurs on the day. Lang finished 7th overall, ahead of several pros and almost three minutes ahead of last weekend overall amateur champion at XTERRA New Zealand Matt Backler. Davis was the ninth overall female and almost four minutes ahead of amateur runner-up Sophie Bos-Stapley. All of the age group champions and dozens more of the top performers earned a qualifying spot into the XTERRA World Championship on November 1, 2015 in Kapalua, Maui, and the top Aussies in each division were crowned National Champs.
AGE GROUP CHAMPION MEN
Category First name Last name Finish time
Male 15-19 Tom MONTGOMERY 3:24:53
Male 20-24 Chris MUTTON 3:21:44
Male 25-29 Alex ROBERTS 2:50:51
Male 30-34 Nathan JONES 2:41:11
Male 35-39 Matt BACKLER 2:40:58
Male 40-44 Russell KENNEDY 2:46:34
Male 45-49 Tim LANG 2:37:50
Male 50-54 Chris DIMOS 2:57:11
Male 55-59 John HILL 3:08:17
Male 60-64 Richard JEFFREY 3:09:28
Male 70-74 Ray LICHTWARK 3:30:22
AGE GROUP CHAMPION WOMEN
Category First name Last name Finish time
Female 15-19 Matilda TERRY 3:27:07
Female 20-24 Tilly HORMAN 3:54:45
Female 25-29 Jessica EGAN 3:33:16
Female 30-34 Jennifer DAVIS 3:05:58
Female 35-39 Michelle MORRIS 3:28:13
Female 40-44 Katrina SKELLERN 3:20:32
Female 45-49 Sophie BOS-STAPLEY 3:09:35
Female 50-54 Lindy KRONEN 3:32:35
Female 55-59 Jennifer STRACK 3:31:48