World Champs to Take on XTERRA Guam Off-Road Event
By Gabriel F. Lombard • For Pacific Daily News
Saturday is go-time for the Xterra Guam Off-Road Triathlon.
The largest triathlon event hosted on Guam starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at the Port Authority Beach and continues to draw elite athletes from around the globe that blends a unique test of athletic versatility, endurance and heart.
Local competitors and fans alike will get a chance to see what the best of the best are made of, as two-time defending Xterra World champion, Julie Dibens, Renata Bucher, Sam Gardner and Jim McConnel all return for another go at the locally organized off-road adventure.
"It is a privilege to witness this caliber of athlete on Guam," race director and president of the Guam Triathlon Federation Eric Tydingco said Wednesday at a press conference at the Hyatt Regency Guam. "We are glad to have them here."
Starting and ending at the Port Authority Beach, the course has changed slightly from years past. The first stage of the event includes a 1-kilometer swim off the coast of Piti. Once completed, competitors will then jump on their off-road mountain bicycles and make their way up a treacherous 31-km bike ride to Mt. Alutom -- overcoming rivers and waterfalls while they are at it. An 8.2-km run finishes the series off as competitors will use whatever is left of their reserves for a race to the finish line at Port Authority Beach.
"The depths of the rivers they'll be going through are anywhere from ankle to waist deep -- that kind of equalizes things a little bit," Tydingco said. "The red dirt is also very unique to Guam, and is something that the competitors will have to deal with."
The professional triathletes are glad to be in Guam for the race, as it serves as a welcomed "vacation" from the cold winters in their respective hometowns.
"It's great we don't even have to use wet suits," Gardner said of the tropical climate change.
Swimming through Guam's warm waters is a pleasure for these professionals, as much of their winter training is completed in indoor pools, which lacks the natural ebb and flow that open water swimming gives them.
"The course this year will favor strong swimmers -- and they won't have to worry about jellyfish this time around," Tydingco said of smooth waters protected by the reef off of the Piti coast.
"Last year was tough because the water was very choppy. That really makes the swim much more difficult," Dibens added.
The Xterra Guam race also serves as a great tune up to events held later in the year, and many of the competitors use this to gauge what weaknesses they need to work on to hopefully be peaking by the Xterra World championship on October 25th.
Bucher, a powerhouse on the bike, hopes to improve her swimming time, as it is the weakest of her three events.
While on Guam these professionals will be training anywhere from two to four hours per day, off-setting their training with hard and easy workouts. They also will be training together.
"We all help each other out, but not too much," defending champion Dibens coyly added as she glanced over at Bucher.
"We're looking forward to a great race in Guam and are fortunate to be here again competing," Gardner said.
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