Kieran McPherson and Sabrina Gobbo captured the 14th annual XTERRA Brazil elite titles on the island of Ilhabela, on Saturday, May 12.
It’s the second win of the year for McPherson, who took the XTERRA Argentina crown in March, and the first for Gobbo, who has now won on her home turf at XTERRA Brazil for five straight years.
In the men’s race it looked like Canadian Karsten Madsen was well on his way towards his second win in as many weeks. He led out of the water, all the way through the bike, and on to the run, but the experience McPherson had from last year’s race in Ilhabela, coupled with a killer run made all the difference.
“I am ecstatic with my first gold level XTERRA win and excited for it to come her in Brazil on this renowned tough course,” said McPherson. “It was hard coming in a close second-place last year and I was determined not to let it happen again.”
The day started in unique fashion with a mass start and the famous pier jump.
“It was chaotic with a narrow chute and everyone starting together,” said Rakita, who was the runner-up in the XTERRA Pan Am Pro Series last year. “We dolphin dived for about 100-yards before we could get down to the business of swimming. Then we had the 12-foot high jump off the pier to start the second segment of the swim, that was awesome and a real highlight.”
On the bike Madsen pushed hard and pulled away from the pack, but McPherson never gave in.
“I knew the tough mountain bike course with its climbing and technical rooty descents would suit me,” said McPherson. “I closed the gap on some of the lead swimmers just before halfway and was able to work with Branden before finding out Karsten was still up the road. I maintained my composure through the last jungle section before entering the final and toughest climb.”
Last week at XTERRA Uruguay, Madsen edged out McPherson by two minutes, but this week, it was McPherson’s turn, and he found another gear on the run.
“I worked the ups and downs on the run course and felt like I was flying,” said McPherson. “I caught Karsten with 1500 meters to go, attacked, and never looked back.”
McPherson finished in 2:43:12 with Madsen just behind in 2:43:49. Brazil’s Alexandre Manzan was third in 2:46:53.
“It’s no secret that I’ve never been good at courses like this with lots of steep climbing,” said Madsen. “I’ve DNF’d the past two years at Maui so courses like this have really taken their toll on me. So, I really exorcised some demons today. I put everything into the race and held nothing back from start to finish. Kudos to Kieran on a massive win.”
“The course, the atmosphere, and the organization make this one of the pinnacle XTERRA events in the world,” said McPherson.
Rakita added that “this is definitely among the top three most physically demanding courses in XTERRA, but there is some great technical riding as well which really helps showcase the skill it takes to be able to handle your bike well. I loved the run and it is in the top three as well for one of my all-time favorites alongside Guam and Victoria.”
Top 10 Elite Men
|10||Eduardo Antonio Lass||3:01:00||45||20:34||1:41:12||58:07|
In the women’s race, former competitive swimmer Kelli Montgomery was first out of the water, but no one could keep up with Sabrina Gobbo as she expertly navigated the mountain bike course with the fastest split of the day by four minutes. She backed this up with the fastest run split of the day to take the tape in 3:30:50.
“I suffered out there today, it was hard, and for the first time here I had technical problems,” Gobbo posted to her Facebook page. “At one point I thought everything was lost, but this is like an adventure race … just when everything seems lost, the wind starts blowing in your favor.”
Fellow Brazilian Laura Mira Dias was second in 3:37:29 and XTERRA Uruguay champ Carolina Nieva from Argentina finished third in 3:40:01.
Top 10 Elite Women
|2||Laura Mira Dias||3:37:29||90||25:57||2:05:36||1:04:27|
|5||Luiza Ines Zanini||4:01:05||69||32:57||2:15:48||1:09:06|