Expect a tightly contested race in XTERRA Saipan Championship’s16th edition with former winners coming back and other big name pros competing for the first time to earn the bragging rights of clinching the crown jewel of the world’s toughest off-road triathlon event.
XTERRA Saipan, organized by the Marianas Visitors Authority, is the first leg of the nine stops of the Asia-Pacific tour. The race is set on March 18, 2017, beginning with a 1.5-kilometer swim off the waters of Micro Beach, followed by a punishing 30K bike ride up and down the off-road hills, and a 12K epic run going through the tropical rainforest, past World War II relics, and inside secret caves.
Registration is open until March 16, 2017, at www.xterrasaipan.org.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming all athletes from the Marianas and abroad for another great race on March 18,” said MVA managing director Christopher A. Concepcion.
An exciting subplot of this year’s edition is the anticipated face-off between Australian pros Ben Allen and Brodie Gardner, who are both returning to again test their skills in one of the most technical layouts of XTERRA’s global tour events.
Gardner was last year’s winner in his XTERRA Saipan debut, conquering the course even with less than an hour’s sleep, making his victory more interesting. The Sunshine Coast, Queensland resident was supposed to arrive on Thursday, two days before the actual race, but encountered some problems with his papers but still managed to make it to Saipan. He arrived at 1:30am, less than five hours before the race starts, and was among the competitors at the starting line at 6am but still managed to finish the entire course in 2:52:46, more than one minute ahead of Japan’s Takahiro Ogasawara, who is also expected to make a run for the men’s crown.
Allen, meanwhile, skipped last year’s race together with his fiancée, Jacqui Slack of Great Britain, due to limited travel funds. He will return this year to reclaim the men’s pro title that he won four consecutive years from 2012 to 2015, tying two-time Olympian Olivier Marceau’s record streak from 2004 to 2007.
Yuichi Hosoda and Akihiko Maeda would join Ogasawara that would competing in the Men’s Pro Elite along with Austrians Markus Benesch and Dominik Wychera, Russian Aleksandr Dorovskikh, AmericanWill Kelsay, the Philippines’ Joe Miller, and Bradley Weiss of South Africa.
Carina Wasle of Austria was among the first who confirmed of competing in the women’s division where she hopes to defend the crown she has won twice in the last three years.
Canada’s Mike Vine (men’s) and California native Jamie Whitmore (women’s) won the inaugural event in 2002, with the latter reigning for two more years before being dethroned by Switzerland’s Renata Bucher, who went on to win a record seven times including six straight from 2005 to 2010.
Whitmore is best remembered for clinching the 2004 World Championships aside from claiming 37 titles in various races around the world and winning her battle against cancer, where she received an ESPY for Best Female Athlete with a Disability in 2014. She was also enshrined on the XTERRA Hall of Fame in 2012. (MVA)