Flora Duffy won a record 5th XTERRA World Championship and Bradley Weiss of South Africa won his 2nd men’s title at the premier off road triathlon on the rugged tropical trails on the hills above Kapalua, Maui.
Weiss, who won this race in 2017 and was second last year, and Duffy, a two time ITU Olympic distance World Champion who won this race four straight times from 2014-2017 before sitting out last year due to injury, took home $20,000 each for their victories.
More than 600 endurance athlete from 42 countries and 42 United States, competed in the event which began with a one-mile rough water swim at D.T. Fleming Beach, followed by a two lap 20-mile mountain bike ride through the West Maui mountains, and finished with a 5.5-mile trail run through forests and a thick beach sand. The mountain bike and run trails combined nearly 4,000 feet of climbing on the technically demanding trials that were dry all week before a downpour on race morning made riding slick and challenging.
Although she was worried that she might not retain her dominating form because of her long rehabilitation from injuries and time off from competition, Duffy had the fastest swim (21:19), bike (1:38:45), and run (47:52) splits. Duffy completed her triumph in 2:49:24 with a 14 minutes 12 seconds margin of victory over three-time XTERRA World champion Lesley Paterson, born in Scotland and a longtime San Diego resident.
With her victory, Duffy became the first elite - male or female - to win a 5th XTERRA World Championship, surpassing Conrad Stoltz of South Africa who won 4 XTERRA Worlds in a storied career. Duffy has now won her last 12 XTERRA races and 17 of 20 since 2013.
The win cast a pleasant end to a year of injury and uncertainty for Duffy. “Getting healthy has been the main thing this year,” Duffy told XTERRA media. “So it’s great to win the XTERRA World title in a year that has otherwise been quite disappointing. This is a huge, lovely highlight to end my year with.”
Duffy came out of the water with the elite men’s leaders and was third overall heading into the swim to bike transition. “I felt pretty good coming out of the water and tried not to extend myself too much,” she said. “On the bike, I knew I had to make the most of that first, three-mile climb because after that, the course gets technical, and that’s not really my strength.”
Duffy negotiated the technical and slippery course with careful dispatch. “During the run, I tried not to allow myself to say, ‘I’m going to win this,’ because this is XTERRA and anything can happen. However, once I got off the beach and headed towards the finish, it was a great feeling. It was stressful coming into XTERRA this year, because no one has ever won five XTERRA World titles.”
Paterson, last year’s XTERRA Maui winner and a three-time champion, also played her cards carefully as she was coming off a hamstring injury. “I had a great swim and am super chuffed about that,” Paterson told XTERRA media. “I really went for it on the swim and I got into second pretty quick on the bike, but Flora was in a league of her own. She’s on fire.”
Paterson had good reason to be careful on the slickery trails as she competed with a broken pelvis in 2017 and finished 5th. Last year she came back strong and won by over 10 minutes.
“I really did enjoy myself out there,” Paterson told XTERRA media. “Because of my hamstrings, the run wasn’t pleasurable, but that’s OK. I have the off-season to heal them up.”
While Duffy and Paterson held the top two positions throughout the race, Helena Erbenova of the Czech Republic, Morgane Riou of France, Lizzy Orchard of New Zealand and Suzie Snyder of the U.S. had a hard fought duel for the final spot on the podium.
Erbenova rose to the bronze with a women’s 3rd-fastest 50:45 run which brought her to the finish 1:02 behind Paterson, 46 seconds ahead of Riou, 56 seconds ahead of Orchard and 1:22 ahead of Snyder. Erbenova’s last major finish was 5th place at XTERRA Worlds in 2016 and said her podium, finish was particularly sweet as this will be her last race as an elite. “I’m retiring after today, and this is the greatest celebration I can imagine,” she told XTERRA media.
“Typical Maui,” said Weiss after the race. “When I went down to transition this morning, I didn’t even look at the sky because the weather was perfect all week. Then true to form, the heavens opened. The course was dry and fast all week, but that rain added a slick layer on top.”
Sam Osborne of New Zealand led the swim in 21:14, followed closely by Duffy, Maxim Chane of France and Weiss, 8 seconds after the leader.
Once on the bike, Weiss and Osborne took to the front, soon to be joined by three-time XTERRA World Champion Ruben Ruzafa of Spain, a former pro mountain biker,
Feeling strong, Weiss made his early mark on the three-mile uphill. “I couldn’t believe how strong I felt on the climbs,” said Weiss, who was in the lead after the first lap 10-miles into the course with Ruzafa right on his wheel, Osborne five seconds back, Arthur Serrieres 28-seconds behind in fourth and Cedric Fleureton in fifth one-minute back. As usual, Ruzafa posted the fastest bike split for the seventh year (1:27:45) and caught Weiss and Osborne.
“I made a few mistakes at the end of the first lap and had a few bobbles and Sam and Ruben closed the gap quickly,” said Weiss. “That’s how this race is. You make a few mistakes and lose your rhythm, and the other guy is on you. When Sam and Ruben and I started the second lap together, my game plan changed. I decided that I needed to ride with these guys and get to the top while conserving as much energy as possible. Ruben was pushing really hard on the downhill, but the problem with this type of slick course is that there is a fine line between going hard and making mistakes.”
Sure enough, Ruzafa pushed his technical expertise hard and consequently crashed three times on the descents. “Finally, I realized I had to save some energy for the run,” said Ruzafa.
Osborne also suffered on the slick surface. “Look,” said Osborne, “I’m not sure today’s conditions on the fast tires we all had favored the good bike handlers. Ruben proper launched himself and I hit a tree mid-air trying to cut a corner. I think I burned a few matches doing that, and when Brad attacked on the first climb, I didn’t have the legs to go with him.”
At the 4 kilometer point of the run, Weiss made a move which was not answered by Osborne and Ruzafa. But along came Arthur Serrieres, a 25-year-old newcomer who dominated the XTERRA European Tour with a sizzling run.
“I knew Arthur was coming on strong,” said Weiss. “I hadn’t pushed as hard as I had to push on today’s run in a long time. I just told myself, ‘Keep digging, keep digging, there’s only 20 minutes left.’”
Coming off the bikes, Serrieres was fourth behind Weiss, Ruzafa, and Osborne. “It took some time to catch Sam, because he runs really strong off the front,” Serrieres told XTERRA media. “On the first kilometer, I was not so good, but I kept getting better.”
Serrieres pulled away from Osborne at kilometer three and then caught Ruzafa before the eight-kilometer mark. Serrieres posted the fastest run split of the day (42:01).
Serrieres was thrilled with his runner-up finish. “On the bike course, I couldn’t catch the leaders, and I told myself, ‘Come on Arthur, save some energy for the run and maybe you can finish fourth. That would be a great performance.’ To finish second with today’s competition, I think I am entering another dimension. Next year, I really want to be an XTERRA World Champ.”
Weiss was pleasantly shocked by his second XTERRA World Championship win. “I didn’t know I would ever win again, so today’s win today was incredibly wonderful,” he told XTERRA media. “It’s such a unique race and special race and something that so many athletes put time and effort into and that makes it all the more sweet to win.”
XTERRA World Championship
Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii
October 27, 2019
S 1 mi. / B 20 mi. / R 6.5 mi.
1. Flora Duffy (BER) 2:49:24 S 21:19 T1 00:47 B 1:38:45 T2 00:44 R 47:52
2. Lesley Paterson (GBR) 3:03:36 S 24:55 T1 00:54 B 1:44:17 T2 00:49 R 52:42
3. Helena Erbenova (CZE) 3:04:38 S 27:51 T1 1:06 B 1:44:16 T2 00:41 R 50:45
4. Morgane Riou (FRA) 3:05:24 S 27:53 T1 00:53 B 1:45:17 T2 00:49 R 50:33
5. Lizzy Orchard (NZL) 3:05:34 S 25:27 T1 1:01 B 1:46:22 T2 00:48 R 51:58
6. Suzie Snyder (USA) 3:06:01 S 24:54 T1 00:56 B 1:46:31 T2 00:51 R 52:51
7. Alizee Paties (FRA) 3:10:56 S 27:17 T1 00:54 B 1:46:51 T2 00:43 R 55:14
8. Penny Slater (AUS) 3:11:54 S 24:47 T1 1:02 B 1:49:55 T2 00:42 R 55:31
9. Jindriska Zemanova (CZE) 3:15:21 S 27:48 T1 1:30 B 1:48:30 T2 1:04 R 56:31
10. Samantha Kingsford (NZL) 3:15:48 S 24:13 T1 00:58 B 1:50:04 T2 00:35 R 1:00:01
1. Bradley Weiss (RSA) 2:33:42 S 21:22 T1 00:44 B 1:28:44 T2 00:41 R 42:12
2. Arthur Serrieres (FRA) 2:34:56 S 22:17 T1 00:43 B 1:29:20 T2 00:37 R 42:01
3. Ruben Ruzafa (ESP) 2:35:26 S 22:15 T1 00:50 B1:27:45 T2 00:37 R 44:00
4. Sam Osborne (NZL) 2:47:04 S 21:14 T1 00:40 B 1:30:19 T2 00:31 R 44:23
5. Cedric Fleuerton (FRA) 2:37:28 S 22:18 T1 00:45 B 1:30:35 T2 00:38 R 43:13
6. Josiah Middaugh (USA) 2:40:38 S 23:34 T1 00:56 B 1:30:36 T2 00:39 R 44:55
7. Karel Dusek (CZE) 2:42:38 S 22:09 T1 1:01 B 1:34:24 T2 00:51 R 44:16
8. Karsten Madsen (CAN) 2:43:41 S 21:49 T1 00:40 B 1:34:32 T2 00:38 R 46:03
9. Maxime Chane (FRA) 2:43:56 S 21:19 T1 00:36 B 1:32:56 T2 00:40 R 48:28
10. Karel Zadák (CZE) 2:44:04 S 24:13 T1 1:08 B 1:33:03 T2 00:51 R 44:51