Germany’s Jan Frodeno is the latest in a series of world-class athletes to announce their heading off-road to the world of XTERRA.
The men’s triathlon gold medalist at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing recently announced he will join more than 70 other professionals at the 16th annual XTERRA World Championship in Maui on 23 October 2011.
"I’m really excited to try the XTERRA format, realizing though, that there are some specialists who are at the top of their game. It will be hard to beat them, as I’m more focused on having fun right now and have only been training when I feel like it," said Frodeno from Kona, where he was watching the Ironman World Championship festivities.
"This could be the first time in years that I haven’t lived according to a schedule but rather gone for the odd spin on the bike, some ocean swims and a jog on the golf course. I’ve done enough not to be last, but probably not enough to push the guys all the way to the line."
Frodeno, who spent his youth in Cape Town and uses Stellenbosch, South Africa, as his off-season base – is no stranger to XTERRA nor two of it’s biggest stars in Conrad Stoltz and Dan Hugo.
"He went mountain biking with us over this past summer and I can tell you his skill level will not be holding him back at all," said Hugo, who nearly won the XTERRA USA Championship two weeks ago in Utah. "The last time an Olympic Champion raced Maui he won it (Hamish Carter in 2006) and Frodeno is a very rounded athlete and for certain a crown contender."
Hugo also said to keep an eye on another newcomer, Ivan Rana – a two-time Olympian from Spain that was 5th in Beijing and 5th in the inaugural tri Olympic event in Sydney in 2000.
"Rana is a contender too, if not even more so. His cycling might be strong than Frodeno’s."
Other endurance sport icons who have recently discovered the dirty side of triathlon in hopes of having some fun and contending for titles include 7-time Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong and two-time Ironman Hawaii World Champion Tim DeBoom, who both raced at the XTERRA USA Championship in Utah on Sept. 24.
Armstrong placed 5th, while DeBoom was 14th in a stacked pro field. Both are expected to toe the line in Maui, although Armstrong has yet to confirm his participation.
The beauty of this year’s race is that it will be contested on a brand new course at Kapalua Resort on the northwest coast where Maui Land & Pineapple Company’s 22,000 acre backyard stretches from the mountains to the sea.
The race combines a 1.5-kilometer roughwater swim at D.T. Fleming Beach, a 30-kilometer mountain bike on the lower slopes of the West Maui Mountains, and a 10-kilometer trail run.
The capacity field of 650 competitors from 28 countries and 42 U.S. States represents the best off-road, multisport athletes on the planet. It is a "winner take all" race, with one of the richest pro purses in multisport at $100,000, and it will be filmed for a nationally broadcast TV show.