Wasle, Allen top XTERRA Saipan


Carina Wasle’s quest for victory in XTERRA Saipan finally ended last Saturday.
She ruled the 2014 XTERRA Saipan Championship after a string of misfortunes in her first three appearances in the Crown Jewel of the XTERRA Tour. Wasle completed the 1.5-kilomer swim, 30K bike, and 12k run race in 3:03:31, stunning seven-time XTERRA Saipan champion Renata Bucher (3:07:41) and last year’s winner Jacqui Slack (3:12:21).

“It was a rough XTERRA Saipan journey for me since I started coming here in 2011 and I am glad that after all the things I went through I finally won,” said Wasle.

During her debut in XTERRA Saipan in 2011, the Austrian pro settled for a bridesmaid finish to U.S. pro Shonny Vanlandingham after crashing twice in the bike trail. In 2012, Wasle had a nastier fall, as she crashed into a fellow biker in Navy Hill. After the collision, the diminutive pro’s head slammed on the ground and had her right leg hit the crank of the other rider’s bike. Wasle also sustained a deep cut (to her arms) about three inches long, but managed to continue racing and even came back from a nine-minute deficit against Slack only to cramp up and halt running a few meters away from the finish line. She fought back tears, as she eventually crossed the finish line in 2012. Last year, she made it to the finish line with a smile, but it was an incomplete one, as she had another runner-up finish (to Slack) after falling behind in the swim and run legs.

This year, Wasle was still behind her rivals in the first two legs, but she made sure the margins were close enough to allow her to go for the kill in her favorite phase of the race—the trail run.

The 24-year-old triathlete was fourth out of the water (women’s pro) with her 26:23. Slack was first with her 24:18, followed by Carey (24:43), and Bucher (25:35). Slack kept the lead as she entered the Navy Hill trail before Bucher took over the driver’s seat on the way out of the Banana Rama and up to Mt. Tapochao. Along the bike course, Wasle repeatedly asked volunteers how many minutes she was behind Bucher and Slack.

“I am so conscious about the margin in the run leg that’s why I kept on asking the people on the street. The margin gave me an idea on how I should pace myself in the run leg,” Wasle said.

Bucher completed the bike leg, with a women’s best split time of 1:40:10 for a less than two-minute head over Slack, who clocked in at 1:44:13. The dethroned champion and Wasle, who submitted 1:42:10 in the bike leg, ran together along the finish line loop as they headed to the run course in Navy Hill and Chinatown.

The lead changed for the third time in the run leg and at this juncture it was Wasle on top.

“I took the lead at the 4K mark when I reached the ravine. I have so much energy left on me that I kept running faster,” said Wasle.

The diminutive triathlete had a split time of 57:58 in the run leg and was the lone female competitor to complete the last part of the race under one hour. Bucher posted 1:01:04, while Slack logged 1:03:50. Guam’s Mieko Carey registered 1:05:56 for the fourth place finish (3:16:32), while Japan’s Yasuko Miyazaki (4:08:52) and Saipan’s Kimiko McKagan (4:24:34) completed the women’s pro field.

3-peat feat
Meanwhile, in the men’s pro division, Allen also went for the big blow in the run leg to top XTERRA Saipan for the third straight time.
Allen completed the 12K trail run in 50:35, the fastest in the entire field, to make it to the finish line at the 2:34:29, more than three minutes ahead of his closest rival Dan Hugo (2:39:01).
“I am in cloud nine after winning my first ever 3-peat (same event). It couldn’t get any better than this, knowing that today I raced against a tough field with Dan really staying close to me,” said Allen.

The Australian and the South African’s neck-and-neck battle started in the 1.5-kilometer swim race in the waters off Micro Beach. The water was shallow and the current was strong, forcing majority of the swimmers to struggle in the two-lap course. A lot of the swimmers did dolphin dives, instead of the usual freestyle swim and while some took a lot of time to complete the swim leg with the unusual stroke, Allen was cruising.

“I am used to doing dolphin dives because I was a surfer before I switched to triathlon. The conditions worked for me,” said Allen, who finished the swim race with a field-best 20:18.

Hugo was in close second, getting out of the water at the 20:33 or just when Allen started running to the transition area to pick up his bike for the 30K trail bike to the northern part of the island.

Again, Allen and Hugo kept each other company in the bike course, which the former and majority of the riders enjoyed because of its drier condition compared to last year’s when participants had a shower as they went through the trails and jungles.

Allen made it to the bike-run transition area with a bike split time of 1:23:36, just 11 seconds ahead of Hugo’s 1:23:47. The two favored pros entered the finish line loop to start the run leg together before Allen pulled away near the halfway mark of the run course.

“When I reached the top of the ravines and caves alone, I started to feel comfortable. However, I still pushed myself knowing my competitors are capable of making a comeback. I was just on a zone in the run leg that I managed to get a good lead against Dan,” said Allen.

“It’s always special to win XTERRA Saipan, as I and Jacqui consider the island our second home because of the people’s hospitality. We love our hosts Kimiko and Steve McKagan, their dog Hanako, and all the organizers and volunteers who helped put out this wonderful event,” said Allen, who foiled Hugo’s bid for a 3-peat of his own after the latter won XTERRA Philippines and Guam.

Joining Allen and Hugo in the Top 7 of the men’s pro field were South Africa’s Bradley Weiss (2:44:11), New Zealand’s Oliver Shaw (2:44:11), Switzerland and France’s Olivier Marceau (2:45:54), South Africa’s Nicolas Sterk (2:52:56), and Japan’s Takahiro Ogasawara (2:54:48).

Others who joined the pro division were Austria’s Markus Benesch (3:00:53), Russia’s Aleksandr Dorovskikh (3:01:14); New Zealand’s Mark Leishman (3:02:51), Guam’s Charlie Epperson (3:07:16), Slovakia’s Michal Buceck (3:25:43), and Saipan’s Butch Sublemente (3:39:53).

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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