Defending champions Ben Allen and Carina Wasle lead the list of pros who have registered, so far, for this month’s XTERRA Saipan Championship.
Allen, who ruled last year’s off-road race after clocking in at 2:34:29 in 1.5-kilomer swim, 30K bike, and 12k run race to notch his third straight title, will be putting his championship on the line in the March 28 against South Africa’s Bradley Weiss, France’s David Esposito, Japan’s Takahiro Ogasawara, and the Philippines’ Joe Miller.
Among the pros that have signed up so far for XTERRA Saipan, Weiss stands to be the biggest threat to Allen’s title defense bid. Weiss topped the XTERRA Albay (Philippines), the kick-off of the XTERRA Asia Tour, last month, beating Allen, who finished third.
In the women’s division, a Wasle-Mieko Carey duel is looming as former champions Jacqui Slack of the United Kingdom and Renate Bucher of Switzerland have yet to sign up for XTERRA Saipan. Emails to the two pros asking if they will compete in this year’s XTERRA Saipan have yet to be returned at press time.
Wasle bagged her first XTERRA Saipan crown last year after stunning seven-time champion Bucher and 2014 winner Slack. Wasle posted a winning time of 3:03:31 against the 3:07:41 and 3:12:21 of Bucher and Slack, respectively. Carey finished fourth last year after submitting 3:16:32.
This year’s XTERRA Saipan will take place after Tagaman Triathlon, which is scheduled for March 22. Registration for both events are ongoing and organizers are expected to draw participants from U.S., Guam, the Philippines, New Caledonia, Japan, Korea, Australia, Canada, Austria, and South Africa. Registration deadline from Tagaman is March 19 and March 23 for XTERRA Saipan.
Allen and Esposito have also signed up for Tagaman, while Japan pro Shishin Miyagi is also on the list along with several Korean and Japanese age group participants. Tagaman as of yesterday has lured 48 athletes, while 44 has registered for XTERRA Saipan.
Tagaman and XTERRA Saipan are part of the 2015 Saipan Sportsfest, which is supported by T Galleria DFS Saipan, United Airlines, United Express, Bank of Guam, DOCOMO PACIFIC, TakeCare Asia, Marianas Variety, and Paciﬁc Islands Club Saipan.