XTERRA World Champ Previews Inaugural XTERRA Lake Garda

XTERRA Italy-Lake Garda, Course Preview by Nico Lebrun

Via XTERRA Europe-

The inaugural XTERRA Italy in Lake Garda, Toscolano Maderno, is one of the new additions in the 2018 XTERRA European Tour.

European Tour Director Nico Lebrun, visited the area in March and brings us his impression from the area and the race course.

It might be new for the XTERRA athletes worldwide, but not new for the Italian cross triathletes. Until 2017 it was the race called XGardaman and we are so happy to have this event and local crew part of our Tour. Nico Lebrun

“It might be new for the XTERRA athletes worldwide, but not new for the Italian cross triathletes. Until 2017 it was the race called XGardaman and we are so happy to have this event and local crew part of our Tour. It will be our second XTERRA event in Italy after our race in Scanno and this is good for the development and exposure of our events in this country” said Lebrun.

Toscolano Maderno is a small town with about 8000 citizens, along Lake Garda in North Italy, Lombardi Region. There are many hotel options and other form of accommodation here, as the place is very touristic and during the high season the population can reach the number of 30.000 citizens. The town is quite close from Milan and the highway will bring you here quite easily. There are many international airports in the area with Milan the biggest one but you can land in Verona, Brescia or Bergamo too. The town is famous for the paper production and during your visit here don’t forget to visit the Paper museum. You will have the chance to see a lot of interesting old factories as most of the time during the race you will be in the Valley of the paper makers.


The swim will take place in the beautiful Lake Garda and we are expecting the temperature to be around 18 to 19° Celsius on race date. Although the Lombardi Region is in northern Italy with many mountains around, the huge lake creates its own microclimate and you can even see palm trees around there. But in any case, don’t forget to bring your swimsuit.  The 2 loops swim course will include a small run in between but as the beach is little rocky you will have to be careful and watch your steps. Exiting the swim after the second loop you will have a short run of aprox 100 meters to reach the perfect grassy transition area. Grab your bike and go!

XTERRA Lake Garda
Photo – XTERRA Europe



The bike leg will be similar to Greece at the start, going through a tunnel with stairs up and down and some city streets. Very quick you will start to climb and the course will alternate between paved road and single tracks all the time.  During the 15k loop with 600m vertical climb, you will have this concept, steep climb, sometime technical sometime in paved road, but all the downhill is in good single tracks where you will need to use all your skills to keep your speed. On the last downhill, be ready for some tricky stairs and finally a 2km flat part along the lake to finish the loop.

Finishing the second loop, I bet you will be pretty exhausted! And what follows will not give you time to rest!


As on the bike, very soon you will start to climb to hit some good single track that will take you to the paper-maker valley, the heart of the race. Then you will go deeper in the valley with the first steep and technical downhill. Soon you will enter a canyon and will use a bridge to cross it, very cool place. Ending this gorge, you will start the XTERRA Garda “Beast”! About 120m elevation + 500m long, you will walk, and not fast ! A small flat part on the road will remind you that you can run in this course, and then you have to start descending the “Beast” down, 500m long and 110m elevation this time, with lots of rocks, this is real trail running! And this is where we will see who have some power left on their legs to be able to run fast. Coming back along the river you will have about 3,5 km left, very smooth and slightly downhill to the end. If you know how to run fast on your toes this is the time to use this skill and make the difference.


For this race, I think both hardtail bike or fully will be OK. With the hardtail you will be faster on every steep paved part and with a fully  you will be faster on all those technical single tracks up and down. For the shoes, if you are a solid trail runner with strong ankles, try your light shoes for the steep climbs and the last fast part. But for most of you good shoes with more control might be the best option.

Training for this race:

For the swimming part I will suggest to work on the start and passing the first buoy. With two 750m loops, the first buoy is never more than 250m from the shore, so there is always a big fight reaching the first turn. Being able to start a little bit faster to grab some good feet, and be able not lose them after this first buoy, most of times is the key of a good swimming part.


Swim: 25m sprint + 150m race pace (avg of your 1500m speed) + 25m fly fast + 50m race speed – rest 20’’ – repeat 4 up to 6 time.

XTERRA Lake Garda
Photo – XTERRA Europe

For the MTB. If you belong to those that know how to ride fast on technical parts and always believe that the mtb in XTERRA is easy, just work on your climbing speed: find a 20% paved road or even on in cement in a neighborhood and do some classic repeats like 10x 1min max, rest 1min on the way down to the start point. If you are not coming from the mtb world, work on technical downhills but also on your balance trying to move your bike right or left with small jump but always keeping your speed and correct line. Control and balance is the key for this course and you will remember my words in this race.

For the running part: If you like going downhill like crazy through rocky parts, work on your speed for the last part of the race with some 3min at 90% of your max aerobic speed, on flat surface. Rest for 90sec and repeat (around 6 rep). If you are not familiar with vertical K, find a very steep climb (30%) and do the same work, this time use 90% of your max heart rate. Work on alternations of running and walking fast.

This race even with those tips will make you suffer, but I am sure you will come with a big smile at the finish line. Because you faced the elements and you did it! This is XTERRA and this is why we love it!

For more information about the event please visit www.xterraitaly.com


Jimmy Archer

Founder and Editor at DirtTRI.com. Jimmy has been a professional athlete for over 18 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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