Record-breaking fifth XTERRA World Championship for Flora Duffy
Repeat of 2017 as Bradley Weiss adds second title
A year spent mostly recovering from injury for two-time ITU Triathlon World Champion, Flora Duffy, ended on a high on Sunday with a fifth title at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui. A dominating performance, a gun-to-tape win saw her set the fastest splits across all three discipline to relegate Great Britain’s Lesley Paterson, the defending champion, into second place.
Paterson added to her impressive history of success at the XTERRA World Champs. A three-time winner herself, that was her eighth finish in the top two positions at the race since 2009:
- Gold (2011, 2012, 2018)
- Silver (2009, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019)
The Men’s Elite Champion two years ago, Bradley Weiss dropped to the Silver medal last year, but returned to claim another victory and the winners $20,000 first prize cheque.
Here is the full race report and imagery courtesy of Trey Garman at XTERRA Media.
Weiss, Duffy win XTERRA World Championship
Bradley Weiss from South Africa and Flora Duffy from Bermuda captured the 24th XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon elite titles on a beautiful day at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on Maui’s northwest coast on Sunday morning.
It’s the second title in three years for Weiss, who won it in 2017 and was second last year, and the unprecedented fifth XTERRA World Championship crown for Duffy, who won four straight from 2014-2017 before sitting out last year due to injury. Both earned $20,000 for their respective victories, their share of the $100,000 elite purse.
More than 600 endurance athletes from 42 countries and 42 U.S. states competed in the event, which started with a one-mile rough water swim at D.T. Fleming Beach, continued with a grueling two-lap 20-mile mountain bike ride that traversed the West Maui Mountains, and finished with a 6.5-mile trail run through forest trails and beach sand. There was nearly 4,000 feet of combined climbing on the technical bike and run courses, which were dry all week before a heavy downpour on race morning made the early riding slick and challenging.
Impressive Weiss takes second XTERRA title
“Typical Maui,” said Weiss after the race. “When I went down to transition this morning, I didn’t even look at the sky because the weather was perfect all week. Then true to form, the heavens opened. The course was dry and fast all week, but that rain added a slick layer on top.”
The morning rain served up a traditional Hawaiian blessing on the day then quickly gave way to bright sunshine and super-fast racing among the best off-roaders on the planet, including six past world champions and a wealth of young, talented competitors from more than 40 countries.
Sam Osborne from New Zealand was first out of the water, followed closely by the amazing Flora Duffy of Bermuda, Maxim Chane of France, and Weiss.
“I had a really good swim,” said Weiss. “My swimming has come on nicely and now I’m much more confident and calmer on race day. Today, I made sure I was in control and stayed in front.”
Once on the bike, Brad and Sam took to the front and three-time XTERRA World Champ Ruben Ruzafa from Spain joined them soon after. It was on the uphills where Weiss was making his mark.
“I couldn’t believe how strong I felt on the climbs,” said Weiss, who was in the lead after the first lap 10-miles into the course with Ruzafa right on his wheel, Osborne five seconds back, Arthur Serrieres 28-seconds behind in fourth and Cedric Fleureton in fifth one-minute back.
True to form, Ruzafa posted the fastest bike split for the seventh straight year and caught the pair.
“I made a few mistakes at the end of the first lap and had a few bobbles and Sam and Ruben closed the gap that quickly,” said Weiss. “That’s how this race is. You make a few mistakes and lose your rhythm, and the other guy is on you. When Sam and Ruben and I started the second lap together, my game plan changed. I decided that I needed to ride with these guys and get to the top while conserving as much energy as possible. Ruben was pushing really hard on the downhill, but the problem with this type of slick course is that there is a fine line between going hard and making mistakes.”
Ruzafa, who is one of the best technical mountain bikers in the world, had three crashes on the course.
“Finally, I realised I had to save some energy for the run,” said Ruzafa, who was pushing hard on the descents to close the gaps Weiss created on the way up.
“Look,” said Osborne, “I’m not sure today’s conditions on the fast tires we all had favoured the good bike handlers. Ruben proper launched himself and I hit a tree mid-air trying to cut a corner. I think I burned a few matches doing that, and when Brad attacked on the first climb, I didn’t have the legs to go with him.”
Coming out of the bike to run transition, Weiss and Ruzafa began the run together, with Ruzafa displaying some quick leg speed.
“Finally, I was happy today with my run,” said Ruzafa. “It wasn’t enough to be a world champion, but I have to know I did well.”
At about the four-kilometre mark, Weiss made his move, but he couldn’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet.
Behind him, with Sam Osborne, was 25-year old Arthur Serrieres, who won this year’s XTERRA European Tour with victories at XTERRA Greece, Czech Republic, and Denmark. He has been running incredibly fast this season, and Weiss knew that he had to keep pushing if he was going to hold onto his lead.
“I knew Arthur was coming on strong,” said Weiss. “I hadn’t pushed as hard as I had to push on today’s run in a long time. I just told myself, ‘Keep digging, keep digging, there’s only 20 minutes left.’”
Coming off the bikes, Serrieres was fourth behind Weiss, Ruzafa, and Osborne.
“It took some time to catch Sam, because he runs really strong off the front,” said Serrieres. “On the first kilometre, I was not so good, but I kept getting better.”
Serrieres pulled away from Osborne at kilometre three and then caught Ruzafa before the eight-kilometre mark. Serrieres posted the fastest run split of the day, just four seconds faster than California’s Chad Hall, who finished 13th overall.
Meanwhile, just ahead, on the beach, Weiss had flashbacks to his win in 2017.
“I didn’t know I would ever win again, so today’s win today was incredibly wonderful,” he said. “It’s such a unique race and special race and something that so many athletes put time and effort into and that makes it all the more sweet to win, knowing that everyone arrives here in the best shape on race day. You have to make it count. I couldn’t be happier.”
2019 XTERRA World Champion! What a day… what a course… what a race!!! Massive shout out to all who completed this epic challenge. Hope you all had as much fun out there as I did! Mahalo ❤️ pic.twitter.com/njzzdgWxX6
— Bradley Weiss (@BSWeiss_Tri) October 28, 2019
Serrieres finished second overall with a time of 2:34:56 and was thrilled with his day.
“On the bike course, I couldn’t catch the leaders, and I told myself, ‘Come on Arthur, save some energy for the run and maybe you can finish fourth. That would be a great performance.’ To finish second with today’s competition, I think I am entering another dimension. Next year, I really want to be an XTERRA World Champ.”
Ruzafa was third in 2:35:26, his sixth top three finish over the last seven years (he was 4th last year), Osborne came in fourth and Cedric Fleureton from France was fifth for the second time in three years.
Josiah Middaugh came in sixth and was the top American for the ninth straight year and 12th time overall.
Also impressive was last year’s top amateur, Czech Republic’s Karel Dusek, who finished seventh in 2:42:38.
Dominant Duffy makes it five
In the women’s race it was Duffy all day long with the fastest swim, bike, and run times to take the tape in 2:49:23. With the win Duffy becomes the first elite – male or female – to win a 5th XTERRA World Championship, and she’s now won her last 12 XTERRA races and 17 of 20 since 2013.
She had the fastest swim by over a minute, the fastest bike split by almost six minutes and the fastest run time by about three minutes. This is especially impressive given that she spent most of this year focusing on getting healthy after suffering a tear in her post-tibial tendon, which attaches the bones in her calf muscle to the bones on the inside of her foot.
“Getting healthy has been the main thing this year,” said Duffy, after the race. “So it’s great to win the XTERRA World title in a year that has otherwise been quite disappointing. This is a huge, lovely highlight to end my year with.”
Duffy came out of the water with the elite men’s leaders and was third overall heading into the swim to bike transition.
“I felt pretty good coming out of the water and tried not to extend myself too much,” she said. “On the bike, I knew I had to make the most of that first, three-mile climb because after that, the course gets technical, and that’s not really my strength.”
Despite the slick conditions, Duffy opened up a significant lead before the bike the run transition.
“During the run, I tried not to allow myself to say, ‘I’m going to win this,’ because this is XTERRA and anything can happen. However, once I got off the beach and headed towards the finish, it was a great feeling to know that I was going to win. It was stressful coming into XTERRA this year, because no one has ever won five XTERRA World titles. It’s a great feeling to be the first person to do that.”
Three-time and 2018 XTERRA World Champ, Lesley Paterson, also had a fantastic race despite a hamstring injury. She was out of the water quickly and dominated the bike and run in her usual fashion.
“I had a great swim and am super chuffed about that,” said Paterson. “I really went for it on the swim and I got into second pretty quick on the bike, but Flora was in a league of her own. She’s on fire.”
Once Paterson hit second place, she held onto it for the rest of the race and crossed the finish line in 3:03:36.
“I really did enjoy myself out there,” she said, “Because of my hamstrings, the run wasn’t pleasurable, but that’s OK. I have the off-season to heal them up.”
Paterson has earned her reputation of being one of the toughest competitors in the sport. In the 2017 XTERRA World Championship, Paterson finished fifth, despite competing with a broken pelvis. Like Duffy, she came back even stronger and won last year’s race by over ten minutes. She has now finished in the top two at eight XTERRA World Championship races since 2009.
While Duffy and Paterson held onto their positions, the race for third was a tight one between American Suzie Snyder, Czech Republic’s Helena Karaskova Erbenova, New Zealand’s Lizzie Orchard, and France’s Morgane Riou.
“In the water, I thought I might not survive the swim,” said Karaskova Erbenova, “But then I finally touched the feet of Morgane Riou and we swam like in Europe. But on the bike, I couldn’t catch any corners and was over-braking on all of them. I was OK on the uphills, so I tried to maintain my tempo and pass one girl at a time.”
Karaskova Erbenova was fifth at the bike to run transition. Snyder was in third, Orchard in fourth, and Riou was in sixth.
On the run, the women changed things up. First, Karaskova Erbenova passed Snyder and Orchard and moved into third place, which she held until the finish.
“I was working hard,” said Karaskova Erbenova, “Because Morgane Riou was coming very fast from the back.”
“At T2 I was in sixth, about two minutes from the other girls” said Riou, who hasn’t been able to run for about eight weeks because of an injury. “I was happy to see Lizzie and Suzie on top of the climb on the run and pushed hard to pass them on the descent. After that, I just gave it everything.”
In that same time, Orchard moved passed Snyder and held onto fifth place.
Helena Karaskova Erbenova was third in 3:04:38. Her last major performance was a fifth-place finish at XTERRA Worlds in 2016, and her podium finish this year was made even more sweet as this will be Karaskova Erbenova’s last race as an elite.
“I’m retiring after today, and this is the greatest celebration I can imagine,” she said.
First person to win 5 Xterra world titles!? Kind of can’t believe it!
An achievement I never thought I would accomplish in my career. So fun where sport can take you. A proud moment for Bermuda 🇧🇲 Thank you to everyone who helped me get to the start line happy & healthy. pic.twitter.com/9nL5CY3Cx9
— Flora Duffy (@floraduffy) October 28, 2019
XTERRA World Championship, Maui – Sunday 27th October 2019
1.5km / 31km / 10.5km
1st – Bradley Weiss (RSA) – 2:33:40
2nd – Arthur Serrieres (FRA) – 2:34:55
3rd – Ruben Ruzafa (ESP) – 2:35:24
4th – Sam Osborne (NZL) – 2:37:03
5th – Cedric Fleureton (FRA) – 2:37:26
1st – Flora Duffy (BER) – 2:49:24
2nd – Lesley Paterson (GBR) – 3:03:36
3rd – Helena Kraskova Erbenova (CZE) – 3:04:38
4th – Morgane Riou (FRA) – 3:05:23
5th – Lizzie Orchard (NZL) – 3:05:33
GREAT BRITAIN AGE-GROUP PODIUM RESULTS
3rd – Caroline Higgins – F25-29 – 3:34:28
1st – Simon Taylor – M55-59 – 3:19:06