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Bradley Weiss (RSA) and Flora Duffy (BER) captured the 22nd XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon elite titles on a warm, sunny day in Kapalua, Maui.
It’s the first XTERRA world title for Weiss, and the fourth in a row for Duffy. With the win, Duffy joins XTERRA Hall of Famer Conrad Stoltz as the only other elite to win four titles, she is the first female to four, and is the only elite to win four straight.
Both Weiss and Duffy each earned $20,000 for their respective victories. The total purse was $100,000 and the event was filmed for live viewing as well as international distribution.
More than 800 endurance athletes from 52 countries competed in the event, which started with a one-mile rough water swim at D.T. Fleming Beach, continued with a 20-mile mountain bike ride that traversed the West Maui Mountains, and finished with a tough 6.5-mile trail run in the hot sun.
There was more than 4,000-feet of combined climbing on the technical bike and run courses, which were in excellent condition despite pouring rain on Monday and Tuesday earlier this week.
For Weiss, the day started with a magical swim.
“I didn’t lose any time on the swim which was unbelievable,” said Weiss, who has always been a strong biker and runner, but came out of the water more than two-minutes behind the swim leaders last year. “I don’t know how I did it. I just felt so comfortable in the water. I actually caught a wave at the end and caught up and got past the group. When I stood up on the sand and saw Ben and Flora and the whole group I just thought, ‘what’s going on?’”
It’s often been said that you can lose an XTERRA race on the swim but you can’t win it, but Weiss thinks he might have proven the theory wrong.
“One hundred percent I won the race on the swim,” said Weiss, perhaps half in jest. “It’s been letting me down all these years. When I stood up out of the water and saw Mauricio and Ben, I thought, ‘Game on, here we go.’ And I think mentally I won the race there. I was just so, so confident.”
Weiss finished in 2:32:10 and was a humble champion in his first victory after three attempts on the Maui course.
“The Maui gods definitely looked after me this year,” said Weiss at the awards ceremony. “I’m so happy to be here standing on the top of the podium. Well done to the guys standing around me. They brought out the best in me and I had to dig deep a few times and try to get a bit of belief going. Even when I was winning, I didn’t think I deserved to be there, but I’m super proud and super grateful.”
After Weiss surprised himself with a great swim, he took a chance and charged hard from the beginning of the bike course.
“I got on the bike and I knew Ruben and Josiah would be coming,” said Weiss. “And I knew I had to put a gap on Mauricio. He’s proven time and time again that he’s putting the fastest run splits in.”
On the bike course, Ruben Ruzafa, a tremendously skilled mountain biker, caught up to Weiss just before the second water station, but Ruzafa never had more than 30 seconds on his competitor.
“Once Ruben caught me, I thought, ‘hang in there as long as you can,’” said Weiss. “I made a little mistake on the last bit of single track and Ruben got away.”
On the mountain bike ride, Weiss and Ruzafa swapped the first and second spots. Francisco “Paco” Serrano, who won ITU Cross Tri Worlds a few months ago, held tight to third place during the bike.
Weiss caught up to Ruzafa about one-mile into the run and put a charge into it, ultimately finishing down the chute with his arms outstretched, sharing high fives with the crowd.
Mauricio Mendez, the 2016 XTERRA world champ, was the eventual runner-up. He was expected to be racing from the front, but he was in fourth place off the bike. He then posted the fastest run split, covering the 6.5-mile course in 39:49 to Weiss’ 41:40 and Ruzafa’s 43:41.
“Today was a really tough race,” said Mendez, who finished the course in 2:33:24. “I was fighting the whole time in the swim. On the bike I tried to do my own race but I was struggling. On the run I knew I had a chance. When I caught Paco, I thought, ‘This is it, I got third place.’ Then when I saw Ruben, I thought, ‘I can do this. I need to put my head down and see what happens.’”
Ruzafa had the fastest bike split and was the first rider into T2 here in Kapalua for the fifth-straight year, but got caught by Weiss early on the run and got reeled in by Mendez just before the last stretch of sand before the finish and ended up in third place.
Today was all about Flora Duffy. She led the swim, the bike, and the run for the women by a remarkable distance. By mile 15 on the bike, Duffy had an almost six-minute lead on eventual runner up Barbara Riveros from Chile.
“I did my first XTERRA World Championship in 2013, and I can vividly remember almost falling over running on that beach down there,” said Duffy. “So, to be here today after winning four in a row is pretty unbelievable and pretty crazy to think about where I started. It’s a very special day for me, and what made it even cooler was that Bradley Weiss —Bad Brad I like to call him—won his first world title. We’ve done a lot of training together over the years. He helped me in my final prep to Rotterdam and I would like to think I helped him today.”
The 2017 XTERRA Chile champion Barbara Riveros was in second place for most of the race after a solid swim. She finished in 2:56:11, about eight minutes behind Duffy. Laura Philipp was third in 2:57:24.
“On the bike, Flora was on another level, we all know that,” said Riveros, a three-time Olympian, who missed the last two years at Maui because of injury. “I’m very happy to be at the finish in one piece and I’m happy to be back. I definitely need to spend more time on the mountain bike to get to the next level.”
As for Philipp, who won XTERRA France earlier this year in her first off-road race, she sat in third most all day.
“It was tough from the beginning, but I was surprised I was fourth out of the water which was good for me,” said Philipp. “I’ll definitely be back. The race was beautiful. I didn’t have to worry about traffic. I was 100 percent concentrated.”
Ben Hoffman won the Outrigger Resorts Double award for the third straight year. The honor is given annually to those who post the fastest combined times in both the Ironman World Championship and the XTERRA World Championship.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t improve on my 7th place finish from last year, but winning the double is the silver lining and I’m excited to say I’m the best in both worlds,” said Hoffman, who finished 12th in 2:47:08. His Ironman Kona time was 8:19:26, and his combined time was 11:06:34.
Braden Currie was second in the challenge, with a combined time of 11:29:09. He placed 7th in today’s XTERRA with a time of 2:39:03.
The top amateur man was Philipp Widmann from Germany with a combined time of 12:50:29. He nudged out last year’s double champ Pablo Ureta from Argentina, whose combined time was 12:51:18, by just 50-seconds. Verena Eisenbarth won the women’s amateur double in 14:15:41.
Read the complete recap at Xterraplanet.com.
2017 XTERRA World Championship
Maui, Hawaii – Oct. 29, 2017
1-mile swim, 20-mile mountain bike, 6.5-mile trail run
1. Bradley Weiss (RSA) 2:32:09
2. Mauricio Mendez (MEX) 2:33:24
3. Ruben Ruzafa (ESP) 2:33:45
4. Francisco Serrano (MEX) 2:34:29
5. Cedric Fleureton (FRA) 2:34:50
6. Sam Osborne (NZL) 2:36:22
7. Braden Currie (NZL) 2:39:03
8. Josiah Middaugh (USA) 2:39:32
9. Brice Daubord (FRA) 2:41:36
10. Rom Akerson (CRC) 2:42:23
1. Flora Duffy (BER) 2:47:47
2. Barbara Riveros (CHI) 2:56:11
3. Laura Philipp (GER) 2:57:24
4. Brigitta Poor (HUN) 3:02:36
5. Lesley Paterson (SCO) 3:06:01
6. Suzie Snyder (USA) 3:06:27
7. Elizabeth Orchard (NZL) 3:06:40
8. Helena Karaskova (CZE) 3:08:22
9. Carina Wasle (AUT) 3:11:34
10. Emma Garrard (USA) 3:12:45