This Sunday 23rd October at 9AM Maui time, Flora Duffy will be swapping her road bike for a mountain bike and road running for trail and beach running as she looks to be crowned XTerra World Champion for the third year in a row. Should Flora win it would cap off a remarkable year for her coming on the heels of her overall win in the ITU World Series and a her spectacular win at the Grand Final of that series in Cozumel, Mexico and her 8th place finish in the Olympics. Anything less than a win on Sunday however would be a disappointment for Flora as she has been virtually unbeatable for three years in XTerra racing and won last year’s championships from Scotland’s Lesley Paterson by exactly 5 minutes.
Flora has had a long hard season and in recent months has understandably been focused on ITU road racing but if she can carry the confidence and fitness into Sunday’s race few would bet against her. Her main rivals will be hoping that their longer XTerra season might have given them the edge going into the race. A key part of the race will be the swim. Flora is known as one of the fastest swimmers in triathlon and in XTerra her competitors have historically been much weaker swimmers allowing Flora to establish an important time and psychological advantage going into the bike. Last year after the swim she had a 3 minute 45 second lead over Scotland’s Lesley Paterson, a two time winner of these world championships and although Paterson, a former professional mountain biker, was able to claw back two minutes on the bike, Flora was three minutes quicker on the run. But XTerra can throw up alot of surprises including mechanical breakdowns and crashes ( Flora crashed last year) wich can dramatically change the race profile.
The XTERRA World Championship starts with a 1.5-kilometer rough water swim at D.T. Fleming Beach fronting the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. The mountain bike is one big 20-mile loop with 3,500-feet of climbing that goes up-and-down the lower slopes of the West Maui Mountains more than a dozen times, and the 6.5 mile run features a whole lot more climbing (1,200-feet) along dirt trails, through oleander forests, and into 60-foot high ironwood evergreens.
For more on the race go here