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Course Talk: Xterra World Championship

Here's an inside look at the annual race that features a swim and an off-road bike and run.

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2013 marked the 18th edition of the prestigious Xterra World Championship on Maui, the birthplace of off-road triathlon. A true bucket-list race imbued with the gracious Hawaiian culture, this event affords a rare opportunity to soak in some of Kapalua’s most stunning scenery on the otherwise-private trails of Maui Land & Pineapple Company’s 22,000-acre ranch.


The 1.5-kilometer swim at D.T. Fleming Beach fronting the host hotel — the luxurious Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua — features a wave start, which was introduced at the 2012 race. Sizeable surf can sometimes present an added challenge to this beautiful rough-water swim. Leave the wetsuit at home — ocean temperature in October averages a bathtub-like 79 degrees Fahrenheit.


The bike course is a single, 18.8-mile loop with 3,100 feet of climbing that traverses the lower slopes of the West Maui Mountains. Last year several technical single- and double-track sections replaced jeep roads. “The new stuff has tight, twisting, sharp corners, space just wide enough for your handlebars, places if you don’t get it right you’ll hit your shoulder on a tree,” says Xterra managing director Dave Nicholas.


The 10K course is classic Xterra: “Obstacles are everywhere, including a technical, steep downhill into a gully where racers will have to jump over and duck under fallen trees, navigate a rocky dry creek, head through thick elephant grass, up a short rope-assisted scramble and along a narrow single-track trail with switchbacks that drop all the way down to the beach,” explains Nicholas. “The final test of skill and endurance is a calf-busting 250-meter sandy beach run.”

RELATED: 2013 Xterra Worlds In Photos

Weather Report

Maui weather in late October is typically mild and dry, with temperatures cooling down from the summer highs and trade winds fading a bit. Outside the occasional “cold front” (low 80s to high 70s), average temperatures range from 69 degrees Fahrenheit for the low and 88 degrees for the high.

Local Wrench

West Maui Cycles ( in Lahaina is the closest full-service bike shop and offers everything from bike repairs, rentals and parts to cycling apparel, including its popular Maui Brewing Company jersey.


Amateurs must earn a slot by qualifying as one of the top finishers in their age groups at an Xterra Championship event (there are also two local qualifying races at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu), or enter through the lottery. A limited number of slots may be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis in January.

By The Numbers

88: Average high temp in October
18.8: Length of bike loop (in miles)
3,100: Elevation gain on bike course (in feet)

RELATED: 2013 Xterra Mountain Championships In Photos

Key Workout

Xterra pro Cody Waite shares his favorite midweek training session, to be done 3–4 days before race day. This brick workout includes some race-pace efforts to keep you feeling fit and fast, but the overall volume is kept low to allow for minimal fatigue.

60–90 minutes:
20–30-minute warm-up, 4x[2:00 at race power/effort, 2:00–3:00 easy], 20–30 minutes moderate effort.

20–35 minutes:
3-minute warm-up, 4x[1:00 race pace/effort, 2:00 easy], 5:00–15:00 easy.

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