As expected Flora Duffy’s 2017 schedule is aimed primarily at defending her International Triathlon Union World Series title, her World Series Grand Final title and her XTerra World Championships title. However, there is one surprise race in the schedule, the Sea Otter Mountain Bike XC on the 22nd of April at the now legendary Sea Otter Classic cycling and outdoor sports festival.
The festival was established in 1991 and attracts some 10,000 amateur and professional athletes and around 70,000 fans as well as over 450 vendors at the largest bike expo in North America. Cycling is central to the 4 days of events with world class professionals and amateurs competing in road and mountain bike races in the traditional US cycling season opener. The cross country race is the first in the North American Cross Country Mountain Bike Series and has very strong professional mens and womens fields.
So why has Flora chosen to enter this race ? She revealed to me today that she is hoping to double up in the triathlon and women’s mountain bike events at the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be held in Gold Coast Australia in April of next year. Flora’s announcement also explains why she competed today in the first race in the South African Mountain Bike Series at Grabouw. (At press time results were not available but Flora, who is just returning to training, was not in the first 5 women and admitted not yet being in shape to be competitive against pure mountain bikers).
The rest of Flora’s schedule holds no major surprises although she has chosen to enter one of the most iconic races on the triathlon calendar, the Escape from Alcatraz in San Francisco. The race in its current format was established in 1983 and is unusual in that it starts with the athletes jumping from a ferry into the ocean off the infamous Alcatraz Island. It then incorporates a 1.8km swim to the mainland, a .08km run to the swim/bike transition,an 18 mile bike that includes riding across the Golden Gate Bridge and a tough 8 mile cross country run that includes a 400 step climb up from Baker Beach. The event is in many ways unique and the tough course and non drafting bike leg will certainly suit Flora. Over the years the race has always attracted a select but strong professional field.
Altogether it promises to be an exciting year for Flora who after her fantastic results in 2016 will have the eyes of the triathlon world on her and a big target on her back !
Here is Flora’s current planned schedule (WTS = World Triathlon Series)
Xterra South Africa TBD (sometime at the end of Feb)
3-4th WTS Abu Dhabi.
8-9th WTS Gold Coast 22nd- Sea Otter Mountain Bike XC
13-14th WTS Yokohama
10/11 Escape from Alcatraz
15-16th WTS Hamburg 28th- WTS Edmonton
5-6th WTS Montreal
10/11th Beijing International Triathlon 14-17th WTS Grand Final. Rotterdam
Xterra World Championships TBD Island House Triathlon TBD