Mauricio Mendez, 21, from Mexico City, Mexico and Flora Duffy, 29, from Devonshire, Bermuda captured the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon elite titles on a wild, windy and muddy day in Kapalua, Maui.
In the men’s race Mendez posted the fastest run split of the day (42:06) and passed three-time XTERRA world champion Ruben Ruzafa from Spain with one mile left in the run to take the tape in 2:49:38.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Mendez, the first pro from Mexico to win an XTERRA World title. “I’ve looked up to these guys for so long and now to be up here with them is very special. I’m just happy, really happy.”
In the women’s race, Flora Duffy led from start to finish and posted the fastest swim, bike and run times to take the win in 3:14:59, more than 10 minutes ahead of runner-up Lesley Paterson from Scotland. It’s Duffy’s third XTERRA World Championship win in a row, tying Julie Dibens record of three straight from 2007-09.
“It was really tough out there,” said Duffy. “I crashed on the bike, went over the handlebars and flying into the bushes. My gears weren’t working, and all the while Lesley was back there charging hard behind me. The three-peat it really cool. It’s actually probably even cooler with the fact that I also won the ITU World Championship and then to back it up with this, wow, it’s really a year I could not have asked for. And to tie Julie’s record of three in a row, it’s not easy to do, so many things can go wrong out there. You really need a bit of luck, to prepare meticulously.”
Both Mendez and Duffy earned $20,000 USD for their respective victories. The total purse was $100,000, and the event was filmed for international television distribution.
More than 800 endurance athletes from 46 countries participated in the event, which started in the rough waters of the Pacific Ocean at D.T. Fleming Beach, continued with a 20-mile mountain bike that traversed the West Maui Mountains, and finished with a grueling 6.5-mile trail run.
There was more than 4,000-feet of combined climbing on the bike and run courses, and the mud from recent rains turned a fairly technical course into a “matter of survival” said competitor after competitor. For Mendez and Duffy, due to the rough conditions in the water and on the trails, their winning times were the slowest in the history of XTERRA Worlds.
Read the recaps from XTERRA below:
So a 21-year-old (his birthday was on Thursday) won the 21st annual XTERRA World Championship.
Mauricio Mendez, affectionately known as “Mau,” started swimming when he was six, doing triathlons when he was 10, he did his first XTERRA when he was 14, won the overall amateur XTERRA World Championship when he was 18, went pro at 19, won his first pro race this summer at XTERRA Italy, and now he’s the XTERRA world champ.
“My first XTERRA was in 2010 in Mexico, in the junior kids race, and I won it, and I remember Dan Hugo was first place at the time and thinking wow, this is amazing, I want to be like him,” said Mendez. “And I just got into it and from that day I dreamed about being the world champion. I don’t know, I feel like I am still sleeping.”
Mendez was third out of the water, worked hard with Leo Chacon on the bike to catch Courtney Atkinson at mile three, then he caught Ben Allen at about mile six and those two were together for the rest of the bike. Ruben Ruzafa caught them at about that same time and rode away, coming into transition with more than two minutes.
Mendez, who had the fastest run last year by more than one-minute over Middaugh, had the fastest this year by just 41-seconds over Braden Currie but it was 3:41 faster than Ruzafa.
Ben Allen came off the bike in third and stayed there. It’s the third time in four years Allen has finished 3rd here at XTERRA Worlds. Currie and Middaugh came off the bike together at T2, both caught Leonardo Chacon, with Currie finishing fourth and Middaugh in fifth (and top American for the ninth time and fifth time in a row).
Just a few weeks removed from upsetting Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen to win the ITU Grand Final in Cozumel and ITU World Triathlon Series title, Duffy put her name in the record books with her third straight XTERRA crown.
It didn’t come easy.
“Just before the first bike feed on the steep section I flipped over my bars into the trees just like I’ve done before here, and I was super lucky, again. My bike is a little banged up, but I got back on and I was like ‘dodged another bullet Flora.’ My gears stopped working. I was stuck in easy for most of it, and I was like, you’re done. Spinning, spinning. Not a good thing when you have Lesley behind you.”
Duffy, who finished seventh in her first XTERRA and said she’d never do another, says she’s happy that she did.
“The first XTERRA I did in 2013 in Beaver Creek, I swore I was never going to do one again,” she explained. “Thankfully I did, and it sort of led me to finding myself in triathlon. Here you are racing against yourself, you have to do everything to get through the race, so I’ve kind of taken that to the road side of life. I’m going to race my own race and shape the race to suit my strengths. I think XTERRA has really aided my success on the road.”
For Paterson, the day started with a bit of a worry…
“I was trying to keep calm and collected. I was given out that advice, so I thought I better start listening to myself, but there were a few moments like “Are you f%#* kidding me?,” said Paterson, the two-time XTERRA world champion who finished as the runner-up for the third time in four years. “I was not calm before or during the swim. Nothing would have helped with that. I had a pretty big panic attack through that, it was awful. You’re standing at the edge seeing these big waves and you think “Oh my God,” you know. And it was brutal, really brutal.”
For Suzie Snyder, who finished in third and top American, it was the culmination of her best year as an elite.
“I kind of can’t believe this whole year,” she said. “It just feels awesome to know I worked really hard for it and I think coming back from the crash last year made me a lot tougher mentally as well as physically. I’ve worked really hard and I’m just proud of myself for pushing through a lot of the hard times. It’s awesome.”
Myriam Guillot-Boisset finished fourth for the second straight year, and Helena Erbenova finished 5th for the second time in three years.
Outrigger Resorts Double
Colorado’s Ben Hoffman (pictured) won the Outrigger Resorts Double for the second straight year today. He was 4th overall in Kona and 7th in Maui. Sebastian Kienle went about three minutes faster in Kona, but Hoffman was about six minutes faster here in Maui for a combined time of 11:14:41.
“It’s almost the same amount of pain as Ironman, but packed into three hours instead of eight,” said Hoffman. “I mean, it was crazy. It might as well have been an Ironman. It felt like some of those moments out there were slow-mo and a real grind. I was definitely calling on the Ironman strength that I had to get through that one.”
Pablo Ureta from Cordoba, Argentina won the men’s amateur double (9:37:49 IM + 3:38:13 XTERRA = 13:16:02) and Virginia Sellars from Vernon, B.C., Canada won the women’s amateur double (11:34:44 IM + 4:50:12 = 16:24:56).
2016 XTERRA World Championships
Oct. 23, 2016 – Maui, Hawaii
1. Mauricio Mendez (MEX) 2:49:39
2. Ruben Ruzafa (ESP) 2:51:03
3. Ben Allen (AUS) 2:53:50
4. Braden Currie (NZL) 2:55:49
5. Josiah Middaugh (USA) 2:57:07
1. Flora Duffy (BER) 3:15:00
2. Lesley Paterson (SCO) 3:25:02
3. Suzie Snyder (USA) 3:29:04
4. Myriam Guillot-Boisset (FRA) 3:30:52
5. Helena Erbenova (CZE) 3:32:55