Dan Hugo rode to an easy victory at last year’s Richmond race. Credit: XTERRA
A week from tomorrow, hundreds of triathletes from around the U.S. and the world will descend on Brown’s Island for the XTERRA East Championship, the elite off-road triathlon that, in one version or another, has been taking place in Richmond since 1999. As in years past, professionals and amateurs will navigate a one-kilometer swim in the James, a 20-mile mountain bike leg through the James River and Forest Hill parks and a seven-mile trail run. There is a $15,000 prize purse for the pros who make it to Richmond, the third of five stops in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series.
There will be more on the line for many racers, though, because this year’s event will double as the USA Triathlon Off-Road National Championship. That means the top American professionals and each amateur in his/her age group will qualify for the 2015 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship.
“That means racers who win their division (in Richmond) will be named USAT Off-Road National Champ, XTERRA East Champ, and earn qualifying spots to both the 2014 XTERRA World Championship AND the 2015 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship,” said Trey Garman, XTERRA’s vice president for marketing and media relations. “Big Haul! Expect a strong field in Richmond this year.”
Garman and his XTERRA colleagues have also come up with a cool twist on the usual media day festivities that precede the races. On Thursday, June 12, instead of sitting in front of microphones, a group of XTERRA pros will face-off in a pre-race shoot-out to showcase their talents, the City of Richmond, and the innovation of presenting sponsor Luck Stone.
This “shootout” is the first-of its kind event where fifteen of the fastest professional XTERRA triathletes in the world will split into five, three-person relay teams to take on each other in a micro-sized XTERRA featuring a short swim in the James River, a mountain bike ride over the footbridge and through the pump track on Belle Isle, and a run past the colorful murals along the Canal Walk before finishing on Brown’s Island. The fastest team should conquer the challenge in about 15 minutes.
Joe Mahoney of the Times-Dispatch captured this image of XTERRA pro Craig Evans taking a header into Reedy Creek last year.
Luck Stone, presenting sponsors of the event, will equip each team with a GPS tracking device and stream all the action live in high-definition at www.luckstone.com so viewers from around the world can get an up-close look — including an over head one, using an unmanned aerial vehicle — at world-class athletes juxtaposed against the coolest urban XTERRA venue ever.
“We are extremely excited to showcase a little bit of Richmond and a whole lot of our sports’ biggest stars,” said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas. “While the distances are but a fraction of what these men and women will be up against on Sunday, to see them work their way around downtown like human race cars will be something to behold and is sure to get everyone fired-up for race day.”
Each team of three pros will have a local Honorary Captain, and I’ll be out there representing RichmondOutside.com as the captain of team “BermudAfrica,” composed of Flora Duffy, a Bermuda native, and Dan Hugo and Brad Weiss, both natives of South Africa. It should be a lot of fun, and you can catch all the action at www.luckstone.com. Of course, here at RichmondOutside.com, we’ll have plenty of XTERRA coverage throughout the week, so make sure you keep checking back.