This year at the XTERRA World Championship I took 8th place. Top 10 at a World Championship is always good. It is a respectable position and you earn money so some of the boxes get ticked from that effort. Of course, I was aiming for much higher. I think that with a few tweaks in execution I would have finished a bit higher as well but that is very often the case after a race- we learn how to be faster.
Flora Duffy, Barb Rivieros and Nicky Samuels were fantastic and they had outstanding races to sweep the podium. However, training for and participating in the race was not only fun but very useful for me as I headed to Australia to put the cap on my season. I also absolutely love being in Maui so I am grateful to get the time there each year. If I ever quit racing I will still find some race to come and spend some time enjoying Maui. I am addicted to this island.
There was a lot of rain before the race and this made the course an absolute mess for days. As with any mountain bike event, there was endless tire talk and even rumors of the course being shortened. In Hawaii, the dirt turns to slippery clay, and as it dries it gets really sticky. Bike tires will cake with that clay like giant vegetation donuts and once the clearance between the tire and the frame is reached the tires stop rolling. Hawaii does not have a good kind of mud. Luckily, it stopped raining and by race day the course could not have been faster. Much ado about nothing.
This is the short story of my race. The swim swells were the largest I have experienced on this course. This is one of the big differences between this venue and the old race venue, the Makena venue was in a more protected bay with less exposure to swells so the swim was generally smoother. I had a great swim start and found myself in front of Charlotte McShane and felt that was a good place to be. I lost that group when I bungled my exit after the long loop looking back and waiting to get pounded by waves, so I ended up a few seconds down on the group into transition. I rode my way up through the group to fourth by the sixth mile with Katrin Muller hot on my heels. We rode together for the rest of the bike, with her exposing my weakness on the very steep climbs and me riding past on the flat sections. Riding with her was a lot of fun as she is amazingly sportsmanlike and we moved out of each other’s way when we felt the other would be the better leader. Having not seen the course before the race, I let her ride all the fast descents on the second half of the course, and she let me lead all the twisting technical bits near the end. Up until I crashed at least. My strengths have changed significantly with my present time trialing focus.
By the time the bike was finished I found myself in 8th place. I went out onto the run behind Katrin and caught her on the first climb. I thought I would run myself into 7th but that ITU speedster McShane tracked me down on the sand in the closing meters and sprinted past to leave me 18 seconds back (I am not much of a sand sprinter) in 8th again. It wasn’t my most impressive day but it also was a strong day. I was racing a very strong field and after multiple years of complete blowouts since 2011 I am happy to have been racing at the front. I was strong across all three disciplines but not my fastest at any of them. It was a great reminder about how much speed and power is in XTERRA racing and it was so much fun to duke it out even if I wasn’t competing for the topmost rung.
Please enjoy the little video I made of my time in Maui:
So now I am in Australia. I managed to get a very nasty chest infection off the plane and unfortunately missed the first race I planned in Perth. So now I am on the mend, in Melbourne, planning to race the second event, the Ballerat 70.3. Wish me luck! Thanks to the amazing partners I have. Thank you to Trek Factory Racing, Bontrager, Shimano, Powerbar, Rudy Project NA, Powertap, Blueseventy, Champion System, Frontrunners Westshore, Procity Racing, USANA and Synergy Wellness. Lets find a few more podiums before we put the lid on 2014.