We speak to Dave ‘the Big Kahuna’ Nicholas, founder of the Xterra World Championship, about last weekend’s event, which athletes surprised him most, and preparations for next year’s European Tour.
220: How did the Xterra World Championship went this year?
Dave: It went very well. There are always a few last minute problems like the bike sweep taking down the run arrows rather than the bike arrows so literally the first three miles of run were unmarked!
But we caught it and fixed it before the first runner appeared. No big injuries, the surf was down for the swim, the wind picked up as the race progressed and all was good.
A bit yes. Ruben is a known quantity and Nicky is fast, but while I said she needed to be considered I did not have her on the top step.
More surprising was Flora Duffy – it took everything Lesley had to pass her in the last hundred meters.
But Maui always has surprises. Sometimes the athletes who don’t expect to podium come in with less anxiety and being loose makes them fast.
I was really happy to see our young guns do so well. Asa Shaw did not have the fitness of 2012 this season, but told me a week or so out that he had taken time to be ready for Maui.
Ben Allen is a superstar that just has had horrible luck at Maui and it all came good for him this year.
I had looked to Helena Erbenova to do a bit better, but after speaking with her, she had an off day just as Lesley did.
How did this year’s event compare to previous years?
The changes in the course got a lot of attention. Conrad Stoltz wrote late last week that he did not think the course was fit for the World Championship.
We talked it over in our pro meeting during the week and explained a lot of how things work for this course.
We aren’t dealing with a park or area that hosts mountain biking every day of the year, but a great land owner who wants to support sport.
We go up into the mountains only a few times a year to cut back the trails which get overgrown quickly.
Remember this is Hawaii and the tropics, and in some cases the grass has grown chest high! I recall a few years ago at our first course we had to sit on the hood of a 4WD truck to find the trails.
What is your favourite moment of the day?
Always when the last person is out of the water and on their bike and there are no bikes left in transition. The swim is what worries me the most and we pay strict attention to safety.
Lots of guards, short two-lap swims where the athlete is never more than a few hundred meters away from shore. That’s when I can relax a bit.
What are you going to do now the event is over?
Hah – the Halloween costume party is such a monster that goes until all hours of the morning that the first thing I do is take an Advil and drink a lot of water.
We’ll take down the compound, transition, pack it all in an ocean container and ship everything back to Honolulu, so the fun doesn’t really start until Tuesday.
Every organiser knows you’ve got a lot of work to put things back to normal at the race site.
For the rest of the week I will maybe get in a round of golf, start thinking about what was right and wrong with the entire season and jot it down.
We’re going to be in 26 countries next year including new events in Ireland, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
While that is fabulous, it is going to require a re-write of the rules for the European Tour Championship, and a hard look into the schedule. All assisted by a tasty lager or two.