World Champs Collide in South Africa

Sebastian Kienle, the 2014 Ironman World Champ, is poised to take on Bradley Weiss, the 2017 XTERRA World Champ, at the 15th annual FedHealth XTERRA South Africa off-road triathlon Saturday at the Elgin-Grabouw Country Club in the Western Cape.

Kienle is no stranger to XTERRA, having done his first one in his home country of Germany in 2005. He won that race a year later and has been going off-road ever since. Two years ago, Kienle placed 16th at XTERRA Worlds, and in 2012 he won the “Double” award for posting the fastest combined times at the IM and XTERRA World Championship races.

As for his expectations on Saturday, Kienle joked, “Triathlon is my job, XTERRA is my hobby. I always try to keep things interesting and I would love to do more XTERRAs, but it is difficult to fit everything in. Hopefully I can challenge my good training partner, Bradley Weiss.”

Sebastian Kienle - XTERRA South AfricaWeiss, who won the XTERRA SA title in 2016 and was second to Richard Murray last year, said “this is by far my favorite race of the year. Being so close to Stellenbosch, it is basically a home town race, one that I hold very close to my heart. Being the World Champion has filled me with confidence, and I cannot wait to pull on the rainbow stripes and have a crack at winning back the XTERRA SA Championship title.”

The main event, the first of 35 majors on the 2018 XTERRA World Tour, combines a 1.5-kilometer swim, 26K mountain bike and 12K trail run.

Other elite men in the mix include Brice Daubord from France, and South Africans Hayley Preen, Michael Ferreira, Ruan Van Zyl, and Michael Lord.

Lord, who won junior XTERRA racers for years before going pro, is expected to give the leaders a chase.

“I enjoy XTERRA because it’s unpredictable, the routes are tough, and the vibe is lekker,” said Lord.

According to Ferreira, skill is required to race competitively at XTERRA. “I enjoy this area of racing where it is not just pure strength, but how well you can handle your bicycle or how you keep composure during the run. XTERRA is definitely not short of technical trails,” he explained.

For Van Zyl, this his first attempt at the championship distance. “XTERRA takes me to places that I’ve never been to before,” he said. “It also allows me to compete against some of the world’s best athletes. I have many XTERRA heroes, but my favorites are Dan Hugo, Bradley Weiss and Conrad Stoltz.”

Speaking of Stoltz, the XTERRA Hall of Famer and winningest XTERRA elite of all-time, will also jump into the mix…but just for fun this time around. His full-time jobs of building trails and being a Dad come first in his life now.

In the women’s race, Flora Duffy’s string of victories at XTERRA South Africa will end at four-in-a-row as the 4x XTERRA World Champ will not toe the line on Saturday.

“I am really sad to miss out, it feels very strange not to start my season with XTERRA South Africa,” said Duffy, who is also the reigning and two-time ITU World Triathlon Series Champion. “February was a little bumpier than I hoped for in terms of training, so I need to focus on my first WTS race of the year the following Friday in Abu Dhabi.”

With that, XTERRA South Africa will crown a new women’s champion, and Duffy is hedging her bet on Vicky Van der Merwe.

“I’d love to see Vicky challenge for the win,” exclaimed Duffy. “She is a friend and training partner of mine, and not to mention a great ambassador for the sport.”

To take the top step Van Der Merwe will need to contend with fellow countrywomen Natia Van Heerden and Haley Preen, as well as XTERRA veteran Carina Wasle, who has won this race twice before in 2009 and 2011.

The weekend gets underway tomorrow, Friday, with kids races for future XTERRA stars ages 6-to-15, continues with the main event and XTERRA 6&12-kilometer trail runs on Saturday, and concludes with the Sprint race on Sunday. Some 3,000 XTERRA Warriors are expected to take part in the weekend events.

“I love the community feel to the Fedhealth XTERRA South African Championship,” said Duffy, whose 2018 plans include defending her ITU and XTERRA World Championship crowns. “No other XTERRA offers such a variety of races throughout the weekend. The event caters for everybody – beginners, serious age groupers and professionals.”

Michael Meyer, the Managing Director of Stillwater Sports, is quick to agree.

« Our plan for 2018 is to host the largest and most exciting Fedhealth XTERRA Grabouw yet,” he said. « Our route building team has been working on a few exciting elements that are guaranteed to be a highlight for entrants and spectators alike. Entrants can look forward to experiencing a world class course that is challenging, yet enjoyable and scenic. All entrants will also stand the chance to quality for the XTERRA World Championship that will take place later in 2018. Although XTERRA Grabouw is known to attract an impressive elite field, the event places a strong focus on family enjoyment. Outdoor enthusiasts of all ages are in for a treat. Together with Fedhealth’s unwavering support we look forward to hosting a memorable experience like no other in 2018.”

Also of note this year at XTERRA South Africa is the water crisis caused by years of drought. As a result, Meyer and the XTERRA organizing team have committed to protecting the municipal drinking water by putting several initiatives in place to ensure they do not use any water from the city grid. Competitors will be required to bring their own water. There will be no free running water, the much-lauded shower trailers will not be available, and neither will the bike wash station. Learn more on the steps XTERRA has taken to be water wise and protect where they play at stillwatersports.com.

All-Time XTERRA South Africa elite champions:

Year Men/Women

2004 Conrad Stoltz/Megan Hall

2005 Conrad Stoltz/Mari Rabie

2006 Conrad Stoltz/Michelle Lombardi

2007 Conrad Stoltz/Michelle Lombardi

2008 Dan Hugo/Eszter Erdelyi

2009 Lieuwe Boonstra/Felix Schumann/Carina Wasle

2010 Dan Hugo/Mari Rabie

2011 Dan Hugo/Carina Wasle

2012 Conrad Stoltz/Carla Van Huyssteen

2013 Richard Murray/Carla Van Huyssteen

2014 Dan Hugo/Flora Duffy

2015 Stuart Marais/Flora Duffy

2016 Bradley Weiss/Flora Duffy

2017 Richard Murray/Flora Duffy

Twitter: @xterraoffroad / @XTERRASA

Instagram: @xterraoffroad / @xterrasa

Facebook: XTERRAPlanet / XTERRA South Africa

Willie Nelson and XTERRA, May 19-20

The XTERRA Oak Mountain off-road triathlon and trail running races just got a bonus, Willie Nelson!

That’s right, THE Willie Nelson is playing alongside Alison Krauss at the Oak Mountain amphitheater (which is just outside the park where all the hotels are) on Saturday night, May 19th.

That means three things:

First, get your hotel room now before the rates go any higher. The XTERRA athlete rate at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Pelham (260 Cahaba Valley Road) is $99/night except Saturday night which is $130 plus tax. Call them direct and ask for the XTERRA rate at 205-987-8888 or book online here.

Next, get your tickets to see Willie tomorrow before it sells out. Tickets go on-sale Friday, Feb. 23, at 10am CST.

Lastly, get your XTERRA entry on early-bird prices. Entry fees start at $30 for the Oak Mountain « Xticer » beginner off-road triathlon, $55 for the XTERRA Sprint race ($70 for Sprint teams), and $85 for the championship distance ($110 for teams). For the runs, it’s just $20 for the 5km, $30 for the 10km, and $40 for the XTERRA Oak Mountain 20K.

Follow the links for details:
May 19, 2018 – XTERRA Oak Mountain Championship, Sprint & Xticer
May 20, 2018 – XTERRA Oak Mountain 5/10/20km Trail Runs

Join us for a rocking time in Shelby County this May!

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XTERRA Travel… To the Trails End Hotel

Imagine a hotel designed with the XTERRA racer in mind, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Trails End Hotel in Grabouw, South Africa.

Designed by Pieter Silberbauer and Johannes Matthewson, the hotel was created specifically for those with a passion for adventure. After spending more than two decades in the house building business, Silberbauer – a mountain biker– saw that their factory could be turned into a “bike hotel” like the ones he loved to stay at in Holland and Japan.

The pair was joined by Dr. Chad Gordon, an XTERRA enthusiast as well as XTERRA World Champ Brad Weiss’ chiropractor, and the adventurists’ dream hotel was born.

It’s no surprise The Trails End hotel attracts some of the best athletes in the world. Weiss is a frequent visitor, and just last year he joined Gordon on a three-day stage race and they stayed at Trails End.

“I really love Trails End,” said Weiss. “It’s the perfect getaway for any outdoor enthusiast and caters to all your needs.”

Specifically, the mountain bike and adventure hotel has 16 fully-serviced rooms which sleep from two to six guests depending on whether you are traveling with your significant other or your entire team. And not only is there a room for you, but there is also a special room to park your mountain bike and trail shoes, so you can literally jump out of bed and hit the trails.

Additionally, the hotel offers yoga and Pilates classes, bike training and workshops, healthy, organic breakfasts, a kid-friendly rock climbing wall, and an indoor pool, allowing you to meet both your training and vacation goals.

“A few weeks ago, Greg Minnaar, the three-time Downhill World Champ stayed with us,” said Silberbauer. “He chatted to our guests, who were all avid mountain bikers, and we all had a wonderful evening getting to hear about his adventures. We’ve also had Olympic bronze-medal winner Christoph Sauser, and Swiss mountain bikers Konny Looser and Ariane Luthi. What always strikes me is how humble the top athletes are. We’ve watched them transform kids’ lives by taking an interest, signing a shirt, offering tips.”

Silberbauer added that top South African trail runners – Meg Mackenzie and Landie Greyling – stay at Trails End, and America swimmers, Lexie Kelly and Ashley Twitchell were recent guests when they swam the Cape Mile, which is the same body of water that athletes will swim in during XTERRA South Africa this weekend.

“We also had South Africa’s famous cartoonist, Jonathan Shapiro and his wife stay,” added Silberbauer. “’Zapiro’ almost single-handedly brought down our previous president after lampooning him with his cartoons a few years ago. When he and his wife stayed, we all had a really nice cycle together in the morning.”

Silberbauer, Matthewson, and Gordon are incredibly excited about what lies ahead for Trails End. But this week, they are excited about XTERRA South Africa, which will take place near their doorstep.

“XTERRA has been part of my life since I finished school,” said Gordon. “I have been on a journey all over the world with sport as my vehicle and what a fancy ride it has been. It’s a ride that turns heads, gets you places, opens up conversation and gives you the opportunity to meet the most amazing people.”

For more information on Trails End, visit http://www.trailsend.bike.

For more on XTERRA South Africa, http://www.stillwatersports.com.


The XTERRA Life of Michael Drackert

On several Fridays a year, Michael Drackert leaves his Kansas City engineering firm, heads home and loads up his van. He drives for hours before pulling into a parking lot to sleep. In the morning, he wakes up, hits the road again, and finally stops in the middle of the woods.

If you haven’t guessed, Drackert is an XTERRA Warrior.

“I show up to work on Monday and I’ll have scrapes and bruises on my leg from where I crashed on my mountain bike,” said Drackert, 34. “But no one at work has any idea about what I did over the last 48 hours. That I drove to Michigan and did this intense, epic race, and slept in a Wal-Mart parking lot and drove home. It’s amazing how much you can cram into life from Friday after work until Monday back at the desk.”

For the last year, Drackert has been gunning for Maui. At the beginning of the 2017 season, he sat down with his wife and planned out the races he thought he needed to compete in to be the XTERRA South Central Regional Champ and earn a qualifying spot at the XTERRA World Championship.

“With off-road racing, a lot of planning gets thrown out the door,” admitted Drackert. “It’s like what Mike Tyson said – ‘Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.’ That’s what I love about the sport – the unpredictability. The need to adapt.”

Last year Drackert narrowly missed qualifying for Maui, but he’s undaunted and back at it again this year.

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Middaugh Coaching Corner – No Time Like the Present

Presented by Suunto

Triathletes are always looking for top secret training that will help them get fast and fit quickly. As soon as the new year hits we start to plan out their season and our training. We often set lofty goals. However, we’ve all felt the panic when things don’t go as planned for a plethora of reasons. Maybe you simply get a late start and feel behind, you’re dealing with a nagging injury, a hectic job, busy family or some other unforeseen time sucker. We’ve put together a few reminders that might help you stay focused and keep some perspective on the journey that is this year’s triathlon season.

Get started today

“I’m going to start swimming next month or when it warms up.” I’ve heard this said so many times. In fact, I’ve said it myself…this week. However, there is no time like the present. Get your training started. Maybe this means starting small with 1-2 easy sessions in each discipline, but that’s a whole lot better than nothing. It will also make it easier to step up to more intense sessions when you are fully ready. The longer you wait, the less time you have.

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