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How to watch the Xterra World Champs

Everything you need to know about the biggest off-road triathlon on the planet, taking place on Sunday 5 December

“If it wasn’t unpredictable, it wouldn’t’ be Xterra,” exclaimed 15-time Xterra world championship participant and three-time women’s elite winner, Melanie McQuaid from Canada.

Indeed, the saying that ‘Mother Nature is your toughest competitor’ has been Xterra’s mantra since the sports’ inception in 1996 on the island of Maui.

The wild unpredictability is what lures athletes to the challenge, and the 25th edition of the Xterra World Championship off-road triathlon this Sunday 5 December, 2021, at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua in Maui is living up to it this week. The weather, trail conditions, surf conditions, even the start list is day-to-day. Here’s all you need to know:

What’s the course?

It’s a 1.5km rough water swim, followed by a 32km mountain bike and a 10km trail run through pineapple fields and forests.

Big rain is in the forecast, big waves too, and the Maui County lifeguards – a collection of the best watermen on earth – are watching conditions at D.T. Fleming Beach closely. While the Maui swim has never been cancelled due to surf, monster waves are another story altogether, and if the ocean safety team doesn’t think it can protect life, the swim is off.

As for the trails, 2015 Xterra World Champion Josiah Middaugh summed it up yesterday, posting, “The course changes by the hour. Yesterday tacky and great, today a bit too sloppy. We either need more rain or less rain…”

Who to watch in the men’s race

Reigning and two-time men’s elite champion Bradley Weiss from South Africa was unable to travel to the US this week due to the covid-related travel ban put in place on Monday. His good mate, Sam Osborne from New Zealand, who has been as fast as any man over the past two years, wasn’t lucky enough to win the lottery to secure a quarantine spot upon return to Auckland and is also out.

A whole lot of Maui first-timers are coming to shake things up, and with the lack of international racing over the pandemic it’s hard to tell how everyone will stack up.

“There are more unknowns this year than ever, since it’s been two years since that last World Championship,” said Middaugh. “That means some young racers have had time to develop and some racers have had time to slack off. There have been less head-to-head matchups so it is tough to know how strong guys are in each discipline. The Europeans have had several competitions and established somewhat of a pecking order, but it is still hard to know how they match up against the rest of the field. Then you throw a couple Olympians into the mix and four past world champions and it gets really exciting.”

Elite Men

*Bib # – Name NAT

2 – Arthur Serrieres FRA

3 – Ruben Ruzafa ESP

5 – Josiah Middaugh USA

6 – Karel Dusek CZE

7 – Maxim Chane FRA

8 – Xavier Dafflon SUI

9 – Geert Lauryssen BEL

10 – Rom Akerson CRC

11 – Branden Rakita USA

12 – Taylor Charlton AUS

14 – Andy Lee GBR

15 – Samuel Jud SUI

16 – Florian Bogge GER

17 – Sebastien Carabin BEL

18 – Brice Daubord FRA

19 – Austin Hindman USA

20 – Eric Lagerstrom USA

21 – Mauricio Mendez MEX

22 – Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen DEN

23 – Keller Norland USA

24 – Edward Oingerang GUM

25 – Irving Perez MEX

27 – Seth Rider USA

28 – Hans Ryham USA

29 – Francisco Serrano MEX

30 – Drew Shellenberger USA

31 – Darr Smith USA

33 – Jimmy Sosinski USA

34 – Brian Summers USA

35 – Hayden Wilde NZL

Who to watch in the women’s race

In the women’s elite race, all eyes are on five-time Xterra world champion and reigning Olympic and World Triathlon champion Flora Duffy, but remember the theme this week is anything can happen.

“I’ve got no expectations, just appreciation that I’m still competitive this late in my career so why not go and compete,” said three-time Xterra world champ and two-time ITU cross tri world champ, Melanie McQuaid.

“I’m sure the level (not even counting Flora) is really high so no idea how I am going to stack up. It’s a fact-finding mission for me to see the new course and see the level of competition both at a pro and AG level. I coach athletes that aspire to the podium in these races (and have two racing this year) so being in Maui keeps me in touch with how the sport is evolving. You don’t know what you don’t know… so I’m going to toe the line to go and learn something.”

Elite Women

*Bib# – Name NAT

51 – Flora Duffy BER

52 – Suzie Snyder USA

53 – Alizee Paties FRA

55 – Carina Wasle AUT

56 – Amanda Felder USA

57 – Katie Button CAN

61 – Loanne Duvoisin SUI

62 – Michelle Flipo MEX

64 – Melanie McQuaid CAN

65 – Irena Ossola USA

66 – Eleonora Peroncini ITA

67 – Chelsea Raymond CAN

68 – Brandi Swicegood USA

*Bib numbers based on finishing position at 2019 World Championship, then alpha

How to watch

See how it all shakes out this Sunday, starting at 8am Hawaii time, via one of these:

Instagram

Live Timing

Facebook Highlight video on Sunday night

Profile image of Liz Barrett Liz Barrett 220 Deputy Editor

About

220 deputy editor Liz Barrett started work on the magazine in 2007 as staff writer. Since then, she’s reported live from almost every major triathlon across the globe, including the Ironman World Championships, 70.3 Worlds, six ITU Worlds, Challenge Roth, the 2014 and 2022 Commonwealths, the London Olympics and the Rio Paralympics, to name but a few. Name a pro and chances are she’ll have interviewed them, so, unsurprisingly, she’s our go-to pro-athlete expert on the team. When not covering races, you’ll find her whipping words into finely-crafted shape for both the magazine and website.