Sponsored by Nissan's SUV of the same name, this unique competition – like a Polynesian drink - perfectly blends the multi-sport demands of triathlon with the beauty and ruggedness of the great outdoors. Simultaneously introducing triathletes to the rigors of mountain biking while making lead anchors of pro mountain bikers in the water, the XTERRA seems to have it all including a stellar field of entrants.
Begun in 1996 and, thanks to Nissan's sponsorship last year, expanded to a 10-race series across America, the XTERRA is our idea of a triathlon. Featuring an open water ocean swim, grueling mountain bike leg and finally an ankle-twisting trail run, this is a great modern interpretation of a normally staid and (IMHO) geeky sport. Scouts from potential international venues are here as well, promising a bright future to this hybrid competition.
The field, as we said, is as powerful as it is mixed. Led by '98 champion and mountain bike god Ned Overend, the men's field also includes mountain bike pros Andreas Hestler and Kurt Stockton both married to female entrants. On the women's side Mrs. Hestler, a.k.a. Lesley Tomlinson, goes up against teammate Shari Kain and it is rumored a returning Tammy Jacques.
Thirty-something other men and 21 women join the mountain bikers, making for some serious heat. Current Ironman women's champ Lori Bowden is here with husband (and '98 Ironman champ) Peter Reid. Other tri-honchos include legend Scott Tinley, points-leader Michael Tobin, and Wendy Ingraham.
They're all here to finish off the new U.S. series and contest a $50,000 purse at this championship event. Come Sunday the men and women will race together on the same course, negotiating three legs in the hot tropical sun. The first leg is a 1.5 km ocean swim from the beach of the Outrigger host hotel. Back on the beach, competitors transition to mountain bikes for a 30km ride over lava rocks and steep hills. They finally transition to an 11km trail run, ending back where they started.
Check back for full results and photos Monday, and watch for an XTERRA event coming to your area next year. We think you'll say "wow."
Ari Cheren, ignoring the SPF and saying "oh me oh mai-tai" to anyone