In the early days of off-road triathlon, a stellar mountain bike split and a respectable run could be enough to propel you onto the podium at most races. But similar to your dignity in a too-tiny Speedo, that’s gone. From the top pros to the back-of-the-pack amateurs, the athletes at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, Hawaii, keep getting faster, stronger, more talented, and more well-rounded every year. Along with an ever-improving course, you can expect the battles in the rough open-water swim, on the picturesque narrow ridgelines high above the sea, and on the sharp, punchy trails to be more outstanding than ever.
Male Podium Contenders
Age 29, South Africa
Strength: Balanced Attack
Being the reigning XTERRA world champion means that he’ll have a giant target on his back, but so far this year Weiss hasn’t cracked under the pressure—evidenced by wins at XTERRA South Africa and the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship. Unquestionably laser focused, his season has been building to this day with the goal of starting the next South African win streak.
Age 23, Mexico
Strength: Foot Speed
After losing his title to Weiss last October, his mission in 2018 has been to refocus and restructure his training. Much of this season has been built around road tri, but his win at XTERRA Tahiti gave indication that he still has dirt in his veins.
Age 34, Span
Strength: Uber Biker
Ruzafa regained his ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship title back in July, not long after dominating XTERRA France. He also picked up wins at XTERRA Portugal and XTERRA Czech Republic, so he’ll undoubtedly be fired up to try to claim the top spot—especially after leading off the bike last year, only to be run down by Weiss and Mendez and settling for third.
Female Podium Contenders
Note: The women’s field will see a new champion due to the injury of four-time XTERRA world champion Flora Duffy. The withdrawal of the queen of Maui opens the door for one of these other strong athletes.
Age 38, Scotland
With two second-place nishes and a fifth during the last three years in Maui, Paterson has been close to the top spot, but never quite able to challenge Duffy. After a battle with Lyme disease that has felt like several lifetimes, Paterson may have finally contained it enough to return to her former athletic greatness of 2011 and 2012. This year, she fought her way to her second ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship title and the XTERRA Pan American Championship in Ogden, Utah.
Age 29, Hungary
After placing fourth last year in Maui, then solidly dominating the first half of the XTERRA European Tour, Poor is gunning for the podium this time. Over the past two years she has steadily improved in all three disciplines and has finally mastered the Hawaiian heat.
Age 27, New Zealand
Though he has been racing XTERRA for several years, Osborne really stepped up his game this season with a win at XTERRA Albay and the overall title in the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour. He had a career-best finish at ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships in July, taking silver.
Age 24, France
Similar to Osborne, Forissier has been on the scene for a handful of years, but 2018 has been his best so far. Wins in Greece and Switzerland, as well as a second-place finish in France, put him in the top of the European Tour. Expect to see a top-10 finish from the Frenchman.
Age 22, Australia
After her freshman year in the pro field last year, she has upped her game in 2018. Slater won the Asia-Pacific Tour and defended her title as U23 champion at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships. She may not claim a podium spot this round, but you can count on seeing her name in the top 10 for years to come.
Age 29, Great Britain
With a second-place finish at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships and her first major XTERRA win in Greece, Walters is showing that she has what it takes to mix it up with the best. She has numerous top-five finishes on all types of courses across Europe, so the challenges of Maui will be right up her alley.
Josiah Middaugh (Age 40, United States)
Francisco Serrano (Age 38, Mexico)
Braden Currie (Age 32, New Zealand)
World champions, Olympians, national champions, and multiple-time XTERRA world champions are only some of the words that could be used to describe these three men. When it comes to filling out the podium in Hawaii, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of them standing on it.
Carina Wasle (Age 37, Austria)
Helena Karaskova (Age 39, Czech Republic)
Fabiola Corona (Age 38, Mexico)
All three women have topped the podium multiple times this season at various Pan Am Tour, European Tour, and Asia-Pacific Tour races, but all three have struggled to bring that type of performance to Hawaii in the past. If they put together the right race on the day, any one of these women could find their way onto the podium.
XTERRA World Championship Course Highlights
After 15 years at the thorny, rocky Ulupalukua Ranch on Maui’s brutally hot south shore, XTERRA’s world championship was relocated to the greener, cooler land of Maui’s north-facing shore in Kapalua in 2011. The nearly man-made bike course is described as a “tropical roller-coaster ride through pineapple fields and forests.”