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2014 Xterra World Championships – Race Report

2014 Xterra World Championships – Race Report

Highlights from the 2014 Xterra World Championship held in Maui, Hawaii

This was my second time going to Maui for the Xterra World Championships and we were blessed with another fantastic race. This year, I went with my fellow Saipan athletes Kimiko McKagan, Kaity Mattos, Steven Johnson, and the stateside defecter, Eric “Mr. T” Cook. I’m happy to say, we all had a great race and a fantastic experience.

Unfortunately, leading up to the race, we were faced with rain all week. This made pre-riding the course nearly impossible in the steep ascents and descents. I got through about half of it before deciding I had had enough of slipping around. At a few points, the puddles were about a foot deep and you just had to walk. All of this seemed like it was setting up for a slow and/or dangerous race. As luck would have it, however, the weather cleared the day before the race. With strong winds, the course dried out well enough and the remaining moisture actually made the course a little more sticky and easy to handle. All-in-all, pretty perfect conditions… unless you’re scared of big waves.

Xterra World Championship 2014

This year, the waves at DT Fleming Beach were pretty large and you had to kind of time your entry into the water between sets, or at least between walls of water. For me, this ended my expectation of being much faster in the swim compared to last year. I’ve been really working on my swimming technique and have seen a ton of improvement… in the pool! Battling the waves made things a bit slower. I felt like there was also just generally more chaos in the water this year. I lined up right in front at the start and it felt kind of like I was in a fist fight all the way until getting around the first buoy. Someone even kicked my goggles partially off my face, but I guess I landed a few jabs as well.

Hair-brained moment number 1 happened at T1. I was in such a rush to get out of transition that I started running out still wearing my swimming speed-suit. I didn’t realize until I was almost out of the exit and had to stop and try to get the thing off over my bike shoes. Definitely looked like a noob! I new I was still in pretty good position, however, because there were a ton of bikes on the racks still. In Maui, its pretty critical to finish the swim and get on the bike course quickly because there is a lot of single-track, and passing people can be a bit challenging, especially uphill with a little leftover mud around the edges of the trail.

Xterra World Championships 2014I felt great on the bike, although I did have a few technical issues. First, the cable on my hydraulic fork lockout had broken in transport. The local shop fixed my cable, but the fork remained basically locked out with only about an inch of travel. This made for a lot of chatter on the descents, and may have contributed to some of my wipe-outs in the last six miles where my front wheel slipped out while banking some tight turns. I was also hearing some loud cracking noises from my right pedal during the race, which made me paranoid that it would fall off – something that has happened to me before when I haven’t service my egg-beaters often enough. Anyhow, the pedals stayed together and I powered through the bike faster than last year.

Although the race started at 9am this year, instead of 8:30 like last year, the run was actually not all that hot. The cool temperatures were probably due to the heavy winds, but I didn’t have any problems overheating. There was one steep section where I had to slow down to a walk – that last huge concrete hill! Luckily, no one passed me there. On the trail back down to the beach, it got pretty fast paced. One lady who had been ahead of me was swerving and a while after I passed her, I heard her go down hard. I felt really good though, and finished strong with my final time 3:52, which was a good 14 minutes faster than last year!

Xterra World Championship 2014Every year seems to be more fun Xterra as I get to know more people in the races. My friend Eric said it well – compared to Ironman events, Xterra feels much more like a family. It really is kind of a tight-knit group that shows up to all these races, but some of the coolest, most friendly people around.

By the way, Ruben Ruzafa won again this year, followed by Josiah Middaugh, and our friend Ben Allen came in third again! For the women, Flora Duffy came in first, Barbara Riveros came in second, and Nicky Samuals was third. I can’t wait for next year!

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Peter Prestley is an attorney living in the Northern Mariana Islands. In his spare time, he kitesurfs and competes in triathlons throughout the Pacific region, including the CNMI, Guam, Hawaii, and the Philippines. You can read his blog at TheTriGuy.com
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