Monday, November 7, 2016

2016 XTERRA Maui Offroad Triathlon World Championship Race Report

Race Date: October 23rd, 2016

Race Details: 
1500m Swim
~32K Off-road Mountain Bike
~10.5K Off-road Trail Run

I qualified for this race at the Xterra Mine over Matter triathlon which was actually my first off-road triathlon.   The family and I headed to Maui a week before on October 15th.   After a really long travel day, we eventually made it to our condo in the NW corner of Maui, just south of the race site.

There were a number of other athletes from the Southern Ontario area also racing, as well as my training buddy from Kitchener, Steve Good who was also staying close by.   We did a number of training sessions in the week leading up to the race, including an awesome road ride around West Maui.   If we're friends on Facebook, you can check it out HERE.   

The one thing that was happening prior to the race on a regular basis was RAIN.   It wasn't a major vacation sucking rain, as it was really spotty, but it pretty much rained several times a day, sometimes hard, in the 3 or 4 days prior to the race.   This would ultimately play a huge factor on race day!

Race morning arrived and it was a pretty low key with lot's of time to get to the race site for the 9am start.   We were always waking up stupid early the whole week, so getting to the race site around 7am was no problem.   Race morning was pretty nice with sunshine and light winds.   Despite the low winds, the waves at DT Fleming were still kicking up, and as promised, we got a rough water ocean swim!!

At around 9:06am, after the male and females pros, as well as the 39 and under males, our age group was off!   The first 75m or so of the swim was the hardest, just getting out past the wave breaks.   Once past those, it was just a lot of up and down to the first buoy, which was only about 375m out, as the swim was two out and backs of 750m with a 50m beach run in between.   I was actually able to stick pretty close to Steve the whole way and came out of the water only a few seconds back which was a nice change to the way we have raced this summer (he's always way ahead!!).  

The best pics of the whole event can be seen on the 
XTERRA Maui Facebook page   There are two galleries, check them out!

My wife was able to catch a cool video of Steve and I coming out of the water with some epic waves.   Check it out here -  DT Fleming swim exit

I finished the swim with a time of 28 minutes and a bit.   Compare this to the Parry Sound Xterra with the same format and distance, which was about 4 minutes faster, goes to show how much more challenging it was.

XTERRA Maui Swim - Strava Link

It was a long run up a long hill to the transition zone.  By the time we hit transition, I was with Steve and then we got to our bikes and got ready for the epic ride ahead.

Once onto the bike and about 500m in, I noticed I still had my swim skin down around my waist.   What a f*cking idiot I thought to myself.   I stopped, laid my bike down and proceeded in taking it off, as I didn't want to a) overheat with it still on, and b) destroy it in all the mud we were going to encounter.   Once I got it off, I stuffed it into my tri shorts for the rest of the ride.   Stopped on the side of the bike course dealing with this likely cost me about 90 seconds and about 50 positions on the bike, which was the worst part.

The next two hours can pretty much be summed up like this:
  • Ride for a bit;
  • Stop, either for other riders or because I can't ride my bike on this hilly, muddy course;
  • Try to ride;
  • Stop to clean the mud out of my bike frame
  • Try to ride;
  • Stop and fix my shoe which broke when somebody ran into me;
  • Try to ride
  • Walk with my bike with others;
  • Try to ride;
  • Stop and carry my bike up this stupid hill because it's easier than pushing it because the rear tire won't turn anymore;
  • Try to ride;
  • Stop and clean the mud out of my bike frame...repeat repeat repeat.
The ride was simply a gong show adventure.   Scott Tinley, former world champ at this race summarized everything really well HERE

I would say that in the first two hours of the bike, I walked or carried my bike way more than I rode it, like 70%.   It sucked, but we were all in it together!!

I eventually reached the top, spent a bunch of time trying to clean my bike so I could ride it, then started the descent.   By this time, it seemed to really thin out and I wasn't dealing with many other athletes.   The last 60 minutes seemed to go by fast, even though it didn't really.   My bike constantly seemed like it was going to fall apart anytime I tried to put out any power.   I only had access to my rear derailleur as my front was no longer working.   I eventually made it back to transition with a very disappointing bike time of over 3 hours.   My Strava file only has 2:53, but that was the moving time.   I spent at least 12 minutes not moving at all on the bike course.

Once back in transition, my left shoe was so full of mud, I couldn't even get it unlocked so I had to sit down and just "yank" it off.   I got my run stuff on and was off.

The first 5K of the trail run is pretty much all up hill.   Needless to say, it was hot, hard and pretty slow.   Despite how poorly the race was going for me, I actually kept a positive attitude on the run and just kept plugging along.   Not one person passed me on the run, and I likely passed about 50 people, so that was motivating.   After 5K, we got to run back down to the beach.   There definitely were some technical spots where we were jumping over or going under branches.

At around 8 or 9K, there was one really hard hill left on a paved road.   This part was tough, but eventually I made my way past this and ran downhill all the way to DT Fleming beach where we had a a few hundred meters to run on the beach...which was also pretty tough and slow.   I eventually made it to the finish line, and was happy this adventure was over.   Up to that point, I really had no idea what my overall time was, as I just wasn't looking at my watch, but was surprised to see around 4:37 or so.   Before the rain, my estimated finish time was maybe around between 3 hours and 3:15, so yah, didn't quite accomplish that!

So overall, it was an epic day and in a weird kind of way, pretty fun.   I'd like to definitely try this one again and hope for better conditions, as I really wasn't able to test the fitness during this race due to the conditions.   People say the bike was HARD, but in reality, it wasn't hard at all.   It was just SLOW.   It would have been much harder to be able to ride and push hard on the climbs.

After the race, myself and the family chilled and did some great sight seeing on the island including a trip up Haleakala, which is 10,000' above sea level.   I actually rode my mountain bike down the mountain 2000m before connecting with the family again.   It was pretty awesome.

Thanks for following along on the many races this year.   Not sure what the plan is for next year other than the Boston marathon in April and the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee in September.   We'll figure that out soon enough I guess.   Here are a few more race day pictures!   Later,