As the excitement builds for the XTERRA World Championship on Maui, the top elite men and women gathered at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua to share their thoughts on the big race with the media.

Watch video of the press conferences:

2017 Elite Women Pre-Race Press Conference / 2017 Elite Men Pre-Race Press Conference

The women’s briefing included reigning and three-time XTERRA World Champ Flora Duffy, two-time XTERRA World Champ Lesley Paterson, two-time XTERRA Pan Am Champ Suzie Snyder, 2017 XTERRA New Zealand Champ Jacqui Allen, 2017 XTERRA France Champ Laura Philipp, XTERRA European Champ Brigitta Poor, and 2017 XTERRA Chile Champ Barbara Riveros.

The favorite, Flora Duffy, has a laid-back attitude towards the 2017 XTERRA World Championship on Sunday.

“I’m thrilled to come back and defend my title,” said Duffy. “But to be honest, I’m not feeling any pressure. Last year I raced until November and I was pretty exhausted so I came up with a different set of goals this year. I’ve been enjoying my training and seeing my friends and planning my wedding this year. Do I have the form to win? We’ll see on Sunday.”

Duffy’s first and only XTERRA race of the season was XTERRA South Africa in February, which she won. This season she was focused on the ITU circuit (she won the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam last month), but she still managed to get on her mountain bike a few times a week.

Lesley Paterson, the “Scottish Rocket,” talked about her alter ego, Paddy McGinty.

“Paddy’s a dude, not a chick,” said Lesley. “Having an alter ego is about embodying a character who has the traits I want to have as a badass racer. Paddy is always up for a challenge and always ready to go on race day.“

Suzie Snyder admitted she has been having heart rate and breathing issues caused by a vocal chord dysfunction that constricts her breathing. The “death before DNF” athlete displayed her characteristic poise and said that despite her challenges, she is going to stay calm and play it by ear.

Jacqui Allen validated the general opinion that this has been a breakout year for her. She has been working on her riding and has been doing longer rides at higher intensities.

“The running just seemed to come this year,” said Allen. “I’m riding stronger and I’m fresher for run sessions.“

Another breakout XTERRA racer is rookie Laura Philipp, who won XTERRA France on a very challenging course. After placing third at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, last month, she has been on her mountain bike more and is excited about the race.

“I don’t have experience on this terrain but I’ll try to surprise myself on race day,” said Philipp.

Brigitta Poor is the third up-and-comer of the group. This year has been her best year ever, and Poor is looking forward to seeing what she can do on the course she hasn’t raced on in six years.

The final woman was the tiny racer from Chile – Barbara Riveros – who may be the fastest runner of the group. This is the first time in three years that she hasn’t had to sit out the race due to injury. Riveros did admit that she crashed on her bike a couple of weeks ago and that her coach grudgingly allowed her to come to Maui. Even if she is injured, we shouldn’t forget that she did come out of the water with Flora at the Rio Olympics.

Elite Women’s Start List

Bib#/2016 Position – Name (NAT)

51/1 – Flora Duffy (BER)

52/2 – Lesley Paterson (GBR)

53/3 – Suzie Snyder (USA)

55/5 – Helena Karaskova (CZE)

57/7 – Jacqui Allen (GBR)

58/8 – Lizzie Orchard (NZL)

59/9 – Carina Wasle (AUT)

60/13 – Julie Baker (USA)

61/15 – Kara LaPoint (USA)

62/18 – Isabella Ribeiro (BRA)

63/NA – Holly Henry (CAN)

64/NA – Jessie Koltz (USA)

65/NA – Allison Linnell (USA)

66/NA – Laura Philipp (GER)

67/NA – Brigitta Poor (HUN)

68/NA – Barbara Riveros (CHI)

69/NA – Penny Slater (AUS)

70/NA – Debby Sullivan (USA)

71/NA – Anne Usher (USA)

72/NA – Emma Garrard (USA)

73/NA – Sabina Rzepka (POL)


Elite Men’s Press Conference
2017 Elite Men Pre-Race Press Conference
On the men’s side, reigning XTERRA World Champ Mauricio Mendez gave a nod to 80-year old XTERRA legend Nathaniel Grew, who was in the audience.

“You told me my life would change when I was a world champ and it has,” said 21-year old Mendez. “I’m just happy to be here. I’m feeling great and looking forward to defending my title. XTERRA to me is freedom.”

It’s clear that he will have some fierce competition on his heels. 2016 XTERRA Worlds runner up, Ruben Ruzafa, has been swimming in the ocean in rough water to prepare for Maui. He echoes Mendez’s motto – tope y sin control – which means to go as hard as you can for as long as you can.

“I’m going to try put down the gas and drop everyone on the bike, but you never know,” said Ruzafa.

Ben Allen is hoping for hot and humid conditions on Sunday as well as big surf.

“Hopefully there’s a massive swell and we’ll sort the men from the boys,” he joked.

After placing third three times in the last four years, Allen wants badly to win.

“I’ll be very proud to get on the podium with the caliber of guys here, but I’m going to keep going until I get the win.”

He was referencing the veteran, Josiah Middaugh, who raced XTERRA Worlds 15 times before he won it in 2015.  When asked how long he would keep racing, Josiah joked that he was always told that he was a late bloomer.

Sam Osborne is also having a strong year, having won several races, the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour title, and the runner-up spot on the XTERRA European Tour.

“Last year, everyone kept asking me when I was going to win a race,” he said. “Well this year, I finally got the monkey off my back.”

Osborne has been training this year with Bradley Weiss. They have gone head to head four times and they have each won twice. It is anyone’s guess who will come across the finish line first on Sunday.

Weiss, who beat Osborne and Ruben Ruzafa in XTERRA Denmark this summer, admitted he hasn’t performed his best in Maui in the past.

“In 2014 I was ninth, and last year I was too far back to care,” said Weiss, who said that he tends to struggle in muddy conditions because of his size. “But I want to put together a good race this year.”

Judging by his success in Europe and Asia this season, this could be the year for Weiss.

Francisco, “Paco” Serrano, who won the ITU Cross Tri World Championship this year, explained his poor finish last year at XTERRA Worlds.“I had a very, very painful run,” said Serrano. “I injured my leg on the bike and I was just focused to cross that line. This is my favorite race but I have also had the most accidents and problems here. I just want to have a perfect day in Maui. Maybe I will have to come back the 15th time like Josiah to win it, but I’ll keep trying.”

Elite Men’s Start List
Bib#/2016 Position – Name (NAT)

1/1 – Mauricio Mendez (MEX)

2/2 – Ruben Ruzafa (ESP)

3/3 – Ben Allen (AUS)

4/4 – Braden Currie (NZL)

5/5 – Josiah Middaugh (USA)

7/7 – Ben Hoffman (USA)

8/9 – Sam Osborne (NZL)

9/10 – Rom Akerson (CRC)

10/13 – Bradley Weiss (RSA)

11/20 – Alex Hunt (AUS)

12/26 – Maximiliano Morales (ARG)

14/33 – Anthony Pannier (FRA)

15/43 – Francisco Serrano (MEX)

16/NA – Christophe Betard (FRA)

17/NA – Oivind Bjerkseth (NOR)

18/NA – Maxim Chane (FRA)

19/NA – Andres Darricau (ARG)

20/NA – Brice Daubord (FRA)

21/NA – Rui Dolores (POR)

22/NA – David Escolar (ESP)

23/NA – Cedric Fleureton (FRA)

24/NA – Arthur Forissier (FRA)

25/NA – Billy Gordon (PAN)

26/NA – Yuichi Hosoda (JPN)

27/NA – Jan Kubicek (CZE)

28/NA – Matt Lieto (USA)

29/NA – Henrique Lugarini (BRA)

30/NA – Karsten Madsen (CAN)

31/NA – Tiago Maia (POR)

33/NA – Pierre Alain Nicole (FRA)

34/29 – Alex Roberts (NZL)

35/NA – Leonardo Saucedo (MEX)

36/NA – Kyle Smith (NZL)

37/NA – Cedric Wane (TAH)

39/NA – Mario de Elias (ARG)

40/NA – Branden Rakita (USA)

Unofficial live results can be found at: https://results.chronotrack.com/event/results/event/event-34513.
Official results can be found after the event at: http://jtltiming.com/multisport.htm
Click here for a PDF of the XTERRA Worlds Press Guide complete with elite racer profiles, previews, past results, start lists, and more.
Watch today’s XTERRA University Swim Clinic, presented by Paul Mitchell and led by Ben and Jacqui Allen.
Follow the action online at www.xterramaui.com, on twitter @xterraoffroad and live on Facebook.com/xterraplanet starting at 9am Hawaii time (12pm PST, 3pm EST, 4pm in Rio, 9pm in Paris, 3am Monday in Shanghai and 6am Monday in Sydney).

Outrigger Resorts Double Update

American triathlon legend Ben Hoffman is the reigning and two-time Outrigger Resorts Double award winner and on Sunday, at the XTERRA World Championship, he is looking to prove once again he is the best at both road – and off-road – triathlon.

The Outrigger Resorts Double award is given annually to the elite and amateur man and woman with the fastest combined XTERRA World Championship and Ironman Hawaii Championship time.  It’s a challenge fit for the world’s leading endurance athletes as the two events are held just two weeks apart. Elites are awarded $2,500 and the top amateur man and woman win a 4-night stay at a Maui Outrigger Resort.

On October 14, 2017 in Kona, Hawaii at Ironman Worlds Hoffman finished 9th overall in 8:19:26, more than 30-minutes ahead of the next fastest elite men’s “doubler” Braden Currie, who came in at 8:50:05.

“I’m feeling good now, and just got back into a descent rhythm with my training,” said Hoffman.

“I would love to have a good performance and defend the double title from the past two years, and hopefully improve on my 7th place in Maui from last year.”

Last year, Hoffman finished 4th at Ironman Worlds in 8:13:00 and then 7th at XTERRA Worlds in 3:01:41 to win the double in a head-to-head battle against fellow Ironman and XTERRA great, Sebastian Kienle from Germany. Kienle was three minutes faster than Hoffman in Kona, where he finished second, but Hoffman was six minutes faster than Kienle in Maui. His combined time was 11:14:41, while Kienle combined for a 11:17:46.

“It’s almost the same amount of pain as Ironman, but packed into three hours instead of eight,” said Hoffman after last year’s XTERRA World Championship race. “It was crazy. It might as well have been an Ironman. It felt like some of those moments out there were slow-mo and a real grind. I was definitely calling on the Ironman strength that I had to get through that one.”

While Hoffman and Currie are the only two elite racers qualified to compete for the Double award this year, there are 17 amateur racers from all over the world taking on the challenge, including last year’s amateur men’s champion Pablo Ureta from Argentina. Ureta trails Philipp Widmann by 37-seconds going into Sunday’s race, and Kenji Takeya from Japan is another 12-minutes back.  For the women, Verena Eisenbarth has a near 20-minute advantage on Ashley Robota from Arizona.

Here’s a look at the 2017 Outrigger Resorts Double Participants:

Name Hometown Division IM Time
Ben Hoffman Boulder, CO, USA PRO / Elite 8:19:26
Braden Currie Wanaka, New Zealand PRO / Elite 8:50:05
Philipp Widmann Esslingen, Germany M30-34 9:39:15
Pablo Ureta Cordoba, Argentina M35-39 9:39:52
Kenji Takeya Misato, Japan M45-49 9:51:36
Marco Iseli Bern, Switzerland M35-39 10:21:04
Arnaud Bouvier Digne-les-Bains, France M50-54 10:22:38
Jose Reyes Puebla, Mexico M45-49 10:23:49
Verena Eisenbarth La roche sur Foron, France F30-34 10:39:32
Ashley Robota Tempe, AZ, USA F30-34 10:57:07
Yannick Antoine Rulles, Belgium M40-44 11:14:34
Uta Knape Ludwigshafen, Germany F40-44 11:25:38
Jodi Ruby La Verne, CA, USA F55-59 12:02:29
Brent Wong Aiea, HI, USA M35-39 12:27:13
Thierry Foulounoux Paris, France M60-64 12:29:06
Sean Dowling Honolulu, HI, USA M55-59 13:21:33
Jennifer Burtner Olympia, WA, USA F45-49 13:35:53
Guillermo Jaramillo Kailua-Kona, HI, USA M60-64 15:43:35
Mimmo Trudu Villacidro, Italy M50-54 15:43:49

More Than Just a Number

This weekend, some of the fittest off-road athletes in the world will be lining up on D.T. Fleming Beach in Maui for the XTERRA World Championship. They will speak Italian, French, Chinese, German, Arabic, and English. They will be tall and short; fair and dark; giddy and nervous. They are 14 and 80 and 42 and 25. In fact, the brightly colored crowd gathering at D.T. Fleming Beach may be the most diverse group of people you have ever seen.

They are so different, we tattoo them each with a different number to identify them. For the pros, the number will tell you what place they finished in 2016, and for amateurs, their number will tell you which age group they are in.

On Sunday, the athletes will be focused on place numbers, split times, and the seconds between each other. Yet, the trip to XTERRA World Championship is about much more than just numbers.

This is Alejandro Barrios’s (#781) first time at XTERRA Worlds since his first triathlon in 1989. He is flying from Mexico City to enjoy the adventure at Maui.

“I start doing triathlons when my daughter was born, I what to be healthy to enjoy her more. Last week she give me the news that she is pregnant so now I will have a grandson to be heathy for.”

For Patrick McDonald (#846), the XTERRA World Championship is about second chances. Seven years ago, while training for XTERRA Worlds, Patrick broke his neck in four places.

“I never thought I’d ride again, but this will be my sixth XTERRA World Championship in a row since the accident.”

Steve Simontacchi (#823), a lawyer in the Bay Area, is competing in the XTERRA World Championship with his sister and has been training by riding up to the top of Mt. Tamalpais once a week.

For April Graham (#172), coming to the XTERRA World Championship is a way to reclaim her body, mind, and spirit after four years of medical school and a new baby.

“I am in my final year of juggling school, training, work, and having a toddler,” said April. “I knew that I would need a good XTERRA to bring back some semblance of myself. I want to be my authentic and best self so I can be fully present with my family and my patients.”

Michael Hernando (#378), from the Philippines, believes in the healing power of XTERRA. “Qualifying for the XTERRA World Championship is already a goal achieved. Let’s honor the sport, let’s honor the event, let’s honor the name, honor the paradise, and enjoy every bit of racing!”

Mark Craig (#623), a vegan athlete and general practitioner, wants to demonstrate that we don’t need to harm animals or the environment in order to be a great athlete.

“XTERRA, for me, is a beautiful adventure, a beautiful trip, and an example to show the children: when one wants, one can,” said Lucille Gervaise (#137), who qualified for Worlds at both XTERRA France and XTERRA Belgium. “I am a mom of two children and I am an osteopath. I have little time for me, but I’m motivated to prove that one can have surpass limits, despite a family and professional life.”

Jacobus Verster (#859) from South Africa believes that XTERRA is a natural high. “I want to cross the finish line and I want a photo to prove it!”

Louisa and Steve Webber (#240 and #777) from New Zealand are racing together, as a couple.

“Since last racing in 2007 with my partner – now husband – we got married, had two children, and I have nursed Steve back from two serious injuries in 2009 and 2014,” said Louisa. “To me, XTERRA is exhilaration. I want to go beyond my limits.”

While tattoos and finishing times are important, XTERRA is much more than just numbers. Despite their differences, the athletes at the XTERRA World Championship have the same goal – to go so far beyond the numbers that they transcend their limits, and arrive at that place where they are all one tribe.


More Than Just a Number – Ed Ignacio

Ed Ignacio (#652), a former Honolulu police officer, comes from a long line of Hawaii police officers and public servants. About ten years ago, the FBI sent him to Washington, D.C. to work, and Ignacio visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, which is the nation’s monument to law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty.

The Memorial features two curving, 304-foot-long blue-gray marble walls carved with the names of more than 21,000 officers who have been killed in the line of duty throughout U.S. history, dating back to the first known death in 1791. Unlike many other memorials in Washington, DC, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is ever-changing: new names of fallen officers are added to the monument each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week.

« When I went back home, I learned that Hawaii was the only state without a memorial honoring fallen officers, » said Igancio, who is now an FBI Honolulu Division Supervisory Special Agent. « All of the family members and kapuna and friends who wanted to honor Hawaii’s fallen officers had to travel all the way to D.C. to do that. »

Ignacio knew he wanted to do something to change that but he wasn’t sure what. As an FBI agent, he can’t ask for money.

Then, in 2012, when Ignacio was competing in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, he met Rob Verhelst, aka « Fireman Rob. » In 2001, when Verhelst was a 23-year old firefighter, he traveled from Madison, Wisconsin to spend eight days at Ground Zero working Search, Rescue and Recovery at the World Trade Center. Since then, he’s finished many Ironman races, completing the marathon segment in full firefighter’s gear.

« I asked him why he was doing that, » said Ignacio. « He told me he was raising money and awareness for the firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11. I told him, ‘Hey, Brah, I’m going to borrow your idea.' »

Ignacio contacted the Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation (HLEMF) and told them that he could bring awareness to their cause and direct donations their way. Since then, Igancio has been competing in Ironman events and donning SWAT gear and a kevlar helmet to raise awareness for Hawaii’s fallen officers.

Ignacio’s SWAT gear weighs 45-50 pounds, so he doesn’t wear the gear in the swim or bike portion of the event.

« I want to honor the race and the other competitors, » said Ignacio. « I respect the fact that all those people worked hard to get there and I don’t want to be in the way. I want to be a competitor. I’m just doing my race for a cause. »

In his races, Ignacio hands out cards with the HLEMF information and talks to people about why he is racing in such heavy and uncomfortable gear. For his efforts, he was awarded the US Attorney General Award in July for outstanding community service.

On Sunday, Ignacio is going to race in the XTERRA World Championship in Maui. For this challenging, off-road competition, Ignacio is going to wear a « Murph » vest, named in honor of Lt. Michael Murphy, a fallen U.S. Navy Seal and Special Forces operative.

« I knew I needed to have more mobility for my arms on the XTERRA course and the Murph vest is a bit better for that, » said Ignacio. « And I get to honor another comrade when I wear it. »

Ignacio, who works out of the Honolulu office, has raised over $700,000 for the Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation. Today, there is a memorial for Hawaii’s fallen officers on Punchbowl Street in Honolulu, thanks to Ignacio’s efforts.

Ignacio has competed in over 30 races with his vest on. He continues to raise money for the upkeep of the memorial as well as to provide a scholarship fund for the families of fallen officers.

« Even though I’ve trained a lot, I’m still nervous for my first XTERRA because it’s something new, » he said. « But ultimately, I’m doing this for a cause and I’m going to cross the finish line with a smile on my face. »

More Than Just a Number – Juan Pablo Juares

This year, Juan Pablo Juares (#656) was the top athlete in the 45-49 age group in the XTERRA Pan Am Tour Standings. He won his age group at XTERRA Brazil and XTERRA Argentina and was runner up at XTERRA Chile. Given that Juares didn’t even own a mountain bike until two years ago, even he is surprised by his success.

This weekend, Juares is going to celebrate his year by competing in the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, where he is going for another spot on the podium. We caught up to this self-described “street triathlete” to learn more about his transition to off-road racing.

Q. How did you learn about XTERRA?
A. To be precise, in March 2015, a friend asked me to accompany him to Brazil to run a triathlon. I immediately said yes, but I did not know it was an XTERRA, even when he told me to buy a mountain bike. I just said yes and went.

Q. How did you do in your first race? What did you think of the experience? 
A. As expected, it was lousy. I had a very bad time, especially on the mountain bike.

That year I made two promises. The first was that I would return to Ilhabella for XTERRA Brazil in 2017. The second promise I made was that I would train to get on the podium in some XTERRA races on the Pan-American circuit in 2017.

Q. Tell us about 2017.
A. My first XTERRA of this year was XTERRA Argentina, where I did not expect to get on the podium because I had competed in this race the year before and it had not gone well. But as the mind is stronger than the body, to my surprise, I won my age group.

The following week was XTERRA Chile, and I was very tired. But I was also very happy because I finished second in my age group and fulfilled one of my promises.

Q. What happened when you returned to XTERRA Brazil this year? 
A. I was very strategic and I prepared very well technically in the mountain bike, because I knew the route and knew that it was quite technical. Once I made the journey of the water, I looked forward to the mountain bike.

And so it was happening!

I only fell once, then on the trail run that is my forte, I ran with everything I had. I hoped to be able to get on the podium too, and once I crossed the finish, I shouted to my friends who were from Chile. To my biggest surprise, they told me that I had won my category. I really could not believe it. I was too happy, because with the second place in my home country Chile, and the first place in XTERRA Argentina and XTERRA Brazil, I was first in the ranking on the XTERRA Pan Am Tour. I found out last month, that after Utah, I was still the first in the ranking, so this year has been very good.

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