3rd Pro Male
Sunday morning sitting at our local coffee shop here in Guam with a somewhat foggy memory of the events which transpired on Saturday 23rd March, currently with more questions than answers due to a great post race party but pretty sure it was one of the most epic days of 2013 thus far. It all started with a pretty mellow build up to the race, 5 weeks of high end racing has taken its toll and the motivation, inspiration and determination were found wanting at times. Our first attempt to pre-ride the bike course ended in tears with most of us having to carry our no longer functioning bikes due to the most savage mud/clay combination I have ever come across. We had gone out against better judgment and were now paying the price! Almost immediately after our arrival in Guam we were being warned by the locals of the infamous red dirt high up in the mountains. They told us that if it was raining there was no point in attempting to ride up there due to this red mud/clay combination which was able to completely immobilize a spotless bike in minutes. So after this initial false start, first of many I might add, we decided to get off our high horse and take note of the local knowledge. After a day of sunshine we went back to give it another crack and it just so happened that it was my birthday, to our great satisfaction the course was dry and both Dan and myself soaked up yet another awesome pre-riding experience spending nearly 3hours out on course completing 2 laps. Slept a lot easier that night due to the combination of a tired body but a mind at peace knowing that another podium position was on the cards!
So after a rocky start to the week race day finally arrived and I was ready to leave it all out on course with the knowledge that this would be the final race of the Asia Pacific Triple Crown. Slightly tired legs due to a little too much time spent out on course in the week trying to dial in every corner on the technical bike course was not ideal but with such amazing trails here in Guam it was hard calling an end to any pre-ride opportunity. For those who read my previous race report you will be well aware of my self-inflicted pre race time constraints on the morning of Xterra Saipan, I was determined not to make a similar mistake so 2hours before race start we pulled into the parking lot. Dan looking over at me in the pitch black dark with a puzzled look on his face as if to say... 'And now???' but I was happy to be there early, enough time to work through a solid warm up routine and at least have my goggles in place before the 10sec countdown began! Before we made our way down to the water's edge our homestay for the week Peter Lombard had a surprise for all the Xterra Warriors, we were all about to become participants in the first ever Xterra Harlem Shake. For those not aware of the Harlem Shake do yourselves a favour and take 5 minutes to youtube a few video's. This provided an extremely unique addition to my warm up routine but seemed to work great, everyone was relaxed and ready for a great day out at Xterra Guam!
After three weeks of racing week in and week out you would be sure I have my pre race routine down to a tee. Sadly this is not the case as somewhere between Dan's decision on time of departure on race morning and my unusually long toilet pit stop mid warm-up I found myself scrambling in transition with just 10minutes to go to race start. Before I continue let me just remind you that all this chaos lead to my first every podium finish in an Xterra World Tour event, method in the madness perhaps? As I scrambled my way down to the beach I couldn't help but soak up the breath taking view of the Pacific Ocean on yet another beautiful race morning. Over the past month we have been blessed with fantastic weather on race day and Xterra Saipan was no different, well to start with at least! Island weather can be rather temperamental at times. After one last sip I handed my bottle to our incredible homestay(Russ and Kanae) in Saipan, who have made our trip to the Island truly unforgettable, and joined my fellow Xterra athletes on the beach. As I pulled my cap on I lifted my head to the puzzled look on Dan's face, all he said was "body marking???" with question marks in both eyes. I paused for a second glanced back at the transition area and realised pretty quickly that ship had sailed. Thankfully we are on an Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and rules out here are more like guidelines so my lack of completing a rather basic pre race requirement went mostly unnoticed.
A voice from behind the crowed piped up, "we are going to start you in 10 seconds" which was promptly followed by "10...9...8..." My hopes of a quick warm up were dashed and getting my goggles on before the inevitable 1 was now proving to be a task in itself. With much satisfaction my goggles were now on and I had around 3 seconds to try and figure out which direction we were to be heading. The game plan quickly changed to just follow the man in front of you which worked out pretty well until the front pack of Ben Allen, Rory Downie and Dan Hugo got a small break and I was now leading the second group, serious false sense of security to those behind me! The entire way around the 750m lap the ground was nearly in reach and due to the cristal clear water it was extremely obvious just how well you were moving. The first two sides of the triangular shaped swim lap were terrific and I was soon to realise why, there was a pretty significant rip tide pulling which was fantastic while swimming with it but once we turned into it was rather worrying. Suddenly I was able to take much better notice of the sea life just beneath me as after another 3 strokes I was still in the same spot, to our relief as we neared the beach the current lost its strength and we were able to finish the lap strong. Lap 2 flew past with myself and Frenchman Olivier Marceau working well together, into T1 just over a minute to Dan and nearly two to Ben was a little worrying but with a bike course which played to my strengths I was still on track for a good result.
4th Pro Male
The phrase 'it is raining cats and dogs' comes to mind! Throw a few chickens and small children into the mix and you begin to get an idea of the obstacles we had to overcome out on course. The Philippine island of Cebu is a land divided, extreme poverty and extreme wealth are separated often times by just a concrete wall nothing more but both societies rich or poor are happy and content with the life they are leading. Just outside the walls of our 5 star beach front resort was a totally different world, congestion which I have never witnessed before the smell of fire and cooking drifts through the streets and the people of Cebu getting on with their simple but happy lives. Here is the link to a video Dan made on his Go Pro during our stay in Cebu... www.dghugo.com
Between finishing Xterra Grabouw and boarding the plane headed for the Philippines there was precious little time and arriving at CPT international Airport I was in a complete daze. Hopeful that all necessities had found their way into my luggage and praying that weight was within limits, oh how wrong was I! After much expense we finally arrived at our beautiful resort and after a quick tally up realized it was already Wednesday evening, two days to race day! PANIC! Thursday and Friday flew past with a combination of press conferences, Pre-rides and numerous attempts at finishing the hotel breakfast buffet which they had generously provided on the house. Dan single handedly nearly crippled the Cebu produce supply!