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XTERRA Bid Farewell To Their “Crown Jewel”

XTERRA Saipan Will Not See Its 18th Edition

XTERRA Saipain Will Not Continue as Marianas Visitors Authority Shifts Focus

Long touted as the “Crown Jewel” of the XTERRA World Tour, the XTERRA Saipan will not see its 18th edition in 2018. The Marianas Visitors Authority, the primary backer of XTERRA Saipan, has announced it will drop the event from their 2018 sports calendar.

MVA managing director Chris Concepcion blamed high production costs and declining participation as reasons for the events cancellation, telling the Saipan Tribune “We’ve seen XTERRA numbers drop significantly over the years and we note that Guam has also stopped hosting XTERRA. So this, along with the reduced budget for FY17, is the main reason for cutting XTERRA from our sporting portfolio”.

Interestingly the Saipan Tribune sites declining pro participation as a key factor in the MVA’s decision saying “The MVA board also weighed the declining number of pros in the last few years as another reason they decided to finally pull the plug on XTERRA Saipan. XTERRA Saipan, during its early years, has attracted more than 30 pros and over 200 off-island competitors.”

XTERRA Saipan Run
XTERRA Saipan Run. Photo – XTERRA

The MVA will now turn its sites to IRONMAN and marathon stating “On the positive side of things, we will be concentrating our efforts on the Saipan Marathon scheduled for March 2018 and IRONMAN 70.3 Saipan scheduled for April 2018.”

At its peak XTERRA Saipan saw hundreds of competitors with over 200 coming from off the island and many pros staying through to the following weekend to compete in the Tagaman Triathlon. The MVA is an organization focused on tourism, off island participation is key in their funding decisions. Last year XTERRA Saipan had 56 participants with only 15 pros while the Ironman 70.3 Saipan had 155 participants.The economics of the decision are obvious.

Therefore, the question is, why did XTERRA Saipan lose 75% of its participation, leaving it vulnerable to IRONMAN sweeping in to take away its funding?

Where did the participants go? Was this a one and done situation due to the remote nature of Saipan and the cost to get there? Or, was this yet another case of IRONMAN’s aggressive brand strategy? There are countless examples of IRONMAN forcing competing events out of a given venue. Yet, this has not really been seen in respect to XTERRA as XTERRA and IRONMAN are not direct competitors in terms of format. However, this could be a glimpse at the future as IRONMAN attempt to expand into new areas to counter decreasing participation.

The fact is, XTERRA Saipan participation has been declining for several years, the indicators were there and for whatever reason the situation was allowed to progress to the worst case outcome, event cancellation.

Hopefully this and other similar situations will be at the top of XTERRA’s new owners priority list.


Complete story from the Saipan Tribune.

XTERRA Saipan out as MVA shifts focus on other events

The Marianas Visitors Authority has decided to drop the XTERRA Saipan Championship from its 2018 sports calendar due to the high cost of keeping the event and the declining number of professional triathletes competing in the off-road race.

Next year would have been the 18th edition of the annual multisport race, which is considered the Crown Jewel of XTERRA and would have kicked off the Asia-Pacific Tour Elite series. XTERRA Saipan was first held in 2002.

MVA managing director Chris Concepcion told Saipan Tribune that their decision is sort of bad news/good news for the CNMI, as this would give them more time and resources to focus on promoting other international sporting events being held in the Commonwealth.

“The MVA has decided not to host XTERRA in 2018 due to many factors, including the decline in the number of participants from overseas and the cut in our budget for fiscal year 2018,” Concepcion said.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed an Fiscal Year 2018 budget allocation of $16,052,583 for MVA, but diverted $450,000 from that amount to purchase a fire truck for the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and another $69,435 to the Public School System’s tourism-related programs.

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Jimmy Archer

Founder and Editor at dirtTRI.com. Jimmy has been a professional athlete for over 15 years as a runner, cyclist, mountain biker, cross country skier, and primarily, triathlete. Jimmy has a degree in exercise science from the University of Colorado and is a USA Triathlon and USA Cycling certified coach.
Jimmy became a freelance writer in 2000 while competing and covering the ITU Winter Triathlon World Championship. Since that time Jimmy has been head editor at two magazines, been published in numerous publications within the endurance sport, recreation, and travel segments.
Currently Jimmy is competing professionally in off-road multisport. In his spare time Jimmy passionately follows Formula 1, Moto GP, and is an avid cook.

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