What can I say, Maui is one of the most amazing places I have been and this is one of the most brutal events I have done!
The event is based around the Carlton Ritz in Kapalula, Maui which is a beautiful backdrop.
I arrived in Maui the weekend before the event in the midst of Hurricane Ana. By Monday morning the rain had cleared and everything looked so perfect I knew it would be a good trip. Out the front of our villa was surf beach and a short walk the other way was a beautiful sandy beach with coral, abundance of tropical fish and turtles.
Leading up to the even I went for a swim at the DT Flemmings Beach, the race swim location and there sizeable surf dumping on the beach. Xterra really like to make the whole event a challenge. I was actually quite excited about a surf swim. I did feel sorry for the couple who were also planning on doing a swim set but they looked seriously scared at the prospect of having to swim out through the surf break.
Run training was the same. Running along the coastal track and up into the pineapple fields is picturesque but tough! Melbourne winter does not prepare you for Maui heat and humidity.
Wednesday was the first day the mountain bike course opened. Everyone was keen to get out and see the course. It is mostly single track and most of that goes up! After about half an hour of climbing it started to cloud over and spit rain, a welcomed relief from the heat and sun. Within another half hour we were out on Razor Ridge in a tropical downpour! The decent back down had become a river. We were eventually diverted off the course as they were shutting it as it had just become too wet. It was even impossible to push your bike out as the fine dust turned to gluey mud and so much collected on your tires that the wheels wouldn’t even spin without hitting the frame. Yes it was an adventure even before the race begun!
Some last minute bike repairs and a change to more suited tyres for the muddy conditions I ready to race.
Race day was a perfect Hawaiian day, the warmest and sunniest day the whole time I was there. There was some small swell at the beach which added a bit more fun. I even managed to catch a wave back into the beach.
The swim course is 1.6km ‘M’ shape which means you do two loops and come back into the beach for a short run in-between the two loops. All pros started together, followed by Age Group men 2 minutes after and Age Group females 2 minutes behind them. I had a solid swim coming out in the top 10 pro females. Then it’s straight up hill run to transition and then out onto the bike to start climbing! Amazingly the course had nearly totally dried out! It was a nice and unexpected surprise as two days before we couldn’t climb some of the steeper sections without the rear wheel just spinning in the mud. I was constantly getting passed by the Age Group men the whole way through the bike but one of the great things about off-road racing is how friendly people are even when you may be a bit slower through a single track section. I really struggled with the heat and humidity on the bike (and run), I just wasn’t used to it. Also I would change my training leading in if I did this event again to just do lots of hill repeats. The last few miles of the bike course was my favourite as it was fun flowing single track.
Then it was back to transition to start the run. The first 3 miles of the run course is the same as the bike course, up! Near the top I took a jell and combined with the downhill I found a second wind and managed to pass back a girl from the Netherlands who had passed me on the uphill. There were some fun, flowing sections through single track with some logs and other little obstacles. The end of the run is along the beach where we swam and I was spent and this hurt!
I was very happy to see the finishing chute and even got a ‘high five’ running up the chute from my training partner, Mack Clarkson. Massive congrats to him for being the fastest Australian age group male home and a podium in his Age Group.
Xterra Maui is one tough event but a great event and challenge! I recommend if you get the chance to go to take it!