220 Triathlon take on XTERRA
The crew at 220 dusted off the trail shoes and whipped out their MTB’s for their first ever off-road triathlon at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships. There were some thrills, but mostly spills
We all know how the weather has been treating NSW this week, but fortunately for us, last Saturday the sun was out, the temperature was crisp and the trails were that perfect mix of mud and sweat you hope for during an XTERRA. 220 Triathlon editor Steve Wilson and his two mates Andy Jackson and Steve Kaless along with 220 whiz-kid photographer Trent van der Jagt took to the road down to Jervis Bay to take on their first ever XTERRA (and first time back on a MTB in nearly a decade) to prove that triathletes can take a detour from the bitumen and live to tell another day.
The day kicked off with an early morning coffee, an inspection of just how muddy the course would be (very) and some quick photos for photographic evidence that the team actually showed up. Andy, the star athlete of the team quickly realised his skinny, treadless tyres didn’t resemble everyone else’s bulky MTB ones and began having visions of ice skating through the muddy torn up MTB leg, but nothing could deter the crew now.
With gear packed up, nervous toilet breaks out of the way and snug wetsuits zipped up, the boys strolled confidently and with a spring in their step into the ocean, pumped for their 1.5km ocean swim. Hundreds of athletes, pros (including Courtney Atkinson and Ben Allen) and amateurs tore into Callala Beach. Andy confidently in the middle of the pack, Steve Kaless chugging along like the work horse that he is and Steve Wilson being ferried back into the shore half way through the swim (three weeks layed up in bed and a case of conjunctivitis before race day may have played a part in this).
Wetsuits were peeled off and swapped for MTB’s as the crew took to the course feeling a little rusty and more than a little worn out after the swim. Andy’s wheels did pose a problem, but through natural cycling skills and determination, he held his own along the 35km bike leg. Kaless and Wilson on the other hand had a few more problems along the way pushing them closer to the back of the pack. After a few falls, scrapes, flat tyres and taking a wrong turn, Kaless unfortunately didn’t make the cut off as he came off the ride, leaving Wilson to carry the torch and soldier on.
On the trail run leg, an old injury reared its head for Andy which slowed him down, but he still finished with an impressive time leaving Steve Wilson to finish strong closer to the back of the pack. After sharing a warm, sweaty, manly finisher hug, Steve Wilson and Andy quickly realised that everything was being packed up yet Steve Kaless was no where in sight. A quick chat with some officials revealed that Kaless had in fact turned in his chip after he didn’t make the cut off after the bike leg. A few moments of worry were quickly replaced by heroic cheers as Kaless came striding in, dodging the volunteers clearing out the finishing line. Like any true athlete would have, Kaless had taken it upon himself to finish the run unofficially on his own so that the post-race beers would be well deserved.
With enough injuries and scrapes to last the race season the crew had conquered their first XTERRA. Sure, they weren’t going to the World Championships in Hawaii anytime soon, but there’s always next year.
For more on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships, keep your eyes peeled for 220 Triathlon Australia/NZ #31, hitting newsstands in a few weeks time.
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