All of the races were really well organized and tough as nails. I entered in the Pro division and was surprised with a great result at the series opening at Xterra Italy, Sardinia, by running myself into a podium position, finishing 3rd.(thanks to my Inov8 Xtalon 190's) And this got the ball rolling. Very excited and motivated I set my goal at finishing the series at least top 5 in the Pro category.
I again realized that the bike leg was the deciding factor in Xterra racing. It makes you or brakes you. And then being able to run off a really tough bike is an added bonus, if the damage has not been too great, you might run off a few competitors. And that was my game plan. The Pro ladies are amazing mountain bikers, but I am a better swimmer and runner than most and had to work with what I've got. So, swim to get a minute or two ahead, try not to lose too much ground on the bike and damage control on the run.
Xterra France was next up and was a killer. I had a bit of bad luck, denting my rim in the first few km of the race and had a tire that refused to seal again. After 2 C02 bombs and lots of praying I was on the move but the damage was done, I had lost a lot of time and the course was brutal. Rain had turned the course into a slippery messy forest with the long, steep slippery single track climbs and fast descends. The bike course alone took me 2h50 to complete and I was in 6th position, running hard i managed to reel in one Pro and finished 5th.
I had a few weeks to recover and reset from France, racing the local Duathlon series, the Momentum/IFlex Duathlon on and off road races. But my next stop Xterra Germany was once again a great motivational race. There were one or two new faces to the starting line, but I had a great swim, solid bike (also long climbs) and good run to secure a 4th place at the race, which doubled as the European Championships. Really happy with my race and motivated for a great final, I didn't return to South Africa but stayed on with a great family in Switzerland. I trained, ate and slept like a pro. Training on your own in a strange environment is tricky and looking back now I might have done a few things differently. But that said, I had amazing training ground, lots of hills to play in and a beautiful lake to swim in.
The week before the final, I was feeling good and relaxed and ready to race, but race day I was flat and tired and the race was tougher that it should have been. It was an afternoon start, something I still need to get used to and from the moment the gun went I was not feeling great. Struggled to get a rhythm on the swim, struggled to get power and flow on the bike and the run, well let’s say it was the closest I have come to cramping with both legs. I finished in 7th position, not thrilled but keeping in mind that Renate Bucher, the runner up in the series was only in 5th I didn't do too badly. Over all with all the local and international races I had raced, a season that had stretched from October 2010 with the BSG/Energade series, the Sasol Cross tri series, the local Xterra Series, the Teavigo Duathlon Series, and the European Xterra Series, I might have just pushed it a bit far and was getting ready for a break.
I finished 4th overall in the European Xterra Series, and I am really satisfied and couldn’t go have asked for a better start. I gained lots of racing experience, knowledge of what it’s going to take to get to the top, things you can't experience until you go and race internationally.
So hopefully following the footsteps of the great athletes that have gone before me, Michelle Lombardi, Conrad the caveman, and Dan Hugo, I will grow on this experience and go back next year stronger body and mind!