Last year's rivals will be back to square off for the women's division crown in the 2012 XTERRA Saipan Championship.
According to former Taga, Inc. president Bill Sakovich, defending champion Renata Bucher of Switzerland will return for the March 9 competition and face fellow returnees Jacqui Slack of United Kingdom and Carina Wasle of Austria and the now Guam-based Mieko Carey. Daz Parker, who had been to the two editions of the Crown Jewel of XTERRA Tour but missed last year's competition, this time will join the women's field, while 2011 champion Shonny Vanlandingham will skip the race for the second straight season.
Bucher, who fell to third place in 2011, regained the championship and claimed her seventh title after finishing the 1.5-kilometer swim, 32k bike, and 12k run race last year in 2:54:56, about 10 minutes ahead of the then debuting Slack (3:04:47) and the crash-plagued, but brave Wasle (3:05:53). Carey completed the Top 3 with a time of 3:13:41.
Wasle still notched a third place finish and would have made it to the American Memorial Park grounds earlier if not for a terrible accident in the bike leg. The Austrian triathlete crashed into a fellow biker down the trail at Navy Hill and sustained a deep cut on her legs and had her head slam on the ground. Her ordeal did not end in the bike leg, as a few meters away from the finish line, she cramped up before deciding to soldier on and complete the grueling race.
Last year's Top 3 finishers are expected to have warmed-up and engage in a tougher and closer race on Saipan, as they will also compete in the XTERRA Philippines in Cebu on March 3. Bucher and company will the complete their own XTERRA trifecta on March 23 when they join XTERRA Guam.
Meanwhile, with more pros joining this year's XTERRA, organizers are planning to hold a triathlon panel discussion on March 12 and 14 at the Pacific Islands Club. Other activities to treat guests are also scheduled during the XTERRA and Tagaman (March 16) weeks. The list includes XTERRA Sunset Run (March 8), a series of Tank 2 Tank swims, hush runs, and BBQ party. (Saipan Tribune)