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XTERRA PROS EXCITED TO RACE

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By Patrick Lujan

XTERRA profressionals answer questions at the press conference Wednesday morning at the Sheraton. (photo by Jesse Castro)

XTERRA profressionals answer questions at the press conference Wednesday morning at the Sheraton. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Some of the fittest athletes in the world are on Guam this week.

The defending champions are back once again and they’ve brought along some of their professional friends to take part in the 9th XTERRA Guam this Saturday.

Australia’s Ben Allen and Switzerland’s Rebata Bucher love Guam and the unique off-road course so much that they’ve encourage others to join them this year, bringing the total of pros to 13 that will be participating. A press conference was held Wednesday afternoon to introduce the newcomers and returnees from the Philippines, Australia, Scotland, South Africa, Japan, Austria, Switzerland and England.

“It didn’t take much convincing the others to come,” said Allen, who’s making his second appearance on Guam and has been smoking the competition in the Triple Crown Asian Tour so far. Guam is the last leg of the Asian Tour with the Philippines and Saipan legs already completed. Allen has won the first two legs already.

“The races in Asia are probably the best in my career,” said the 28-year-old from North Wollongong, Australia. “It’s better than the Europe (Tour) or the America (Tour). The race here involves the whole community. As an athlete, I like that experience.”

Allen went on to say that the off trails that the normal tourist won’t see are one of the perks of participating in such XTERRA events.

Women’s champion Bucher is no stranger to the island, this being her fifth time competing on Guam. She’s also taken part in nine events in Saipan.

Ben Allen: defending men's champion from Australia

Ben Allen: defending men’s champion from Australia

She, too, brought along some pro friends to compete on Guam.

“Everytime I come back it’s a great experience and a little different,” said Bucher, a four-time European champion. She has won 29 XTERRA Championship races in her nine-year career. “Racing in a small field, you get to know each other more than racing in bigger races.”

The visiting professionals are used to events with 2000-3000 participants. This weekend’s race is expected to draw 150.

First-time pro Dan Hugo from South Africa can’t wait to get going and said social media has helped promote Guam’s event.

“Just (the pros) getting on social media, a couple thousand people now know where Guam is,” said the 2011 XTERRA South African champion.

The pros hope the recent rain settles down for a dryer route. If not, the clay-like trail may lead to a lot of bike-carrying.

“Everyone is going to struggle out there if it’s wet,” said Hugo, who did a pre-ride of the course on Tuesday.

Saturday’s event will start and end at the Port Authority Beach and will cover a 1.5K ocean swim, 31K mountain bike and 8.2K trail run that have athletes navigating through jungle rivers and down slippery waterfalls.

Rebata Dusher: defending women's champion from Switzerland

Rebata Bucher: defending women’s champion from Switzerland

“When I saw the picture of Ben sliding down a waterfall last year, I got hook,” said first-timer Rory Downie from Scotland.

 

2012 Pro Champions: Ben Allen, Renata Bucher

2012 Amateur Champions: Peter Lombard, Camren Kane

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Sports legend Joe Taitano used to run to school at JFK from his Yigo home and back. He continued this routine up to 1979 when he’d run from home to GW gym and back to practice for the South Pacific Games with the national basketball team. Guam went on to win its second straight SPG gold medal.

 

 

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