A world-class, international field featuring more than 20 elite triathletes from 10 countries are on the start list for the inaugural XTERRA China off-road triathlon to be held at the OCT Yangzong Lake Resort in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, this Sunday, September 22, 2019.
As the grand finale of the 2019 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour, the event offers $25,000 USD ($36,000 AUD) in prize money for the race plus $10,000 in tour bonuses to the top elite performers in the series, as well as 51 qualifying slots into the XTERRA World Championship for amateurs.
Headlining the men’s race is three-time XTERRA World Champion and four-time ITU Cross Tri World Champion, Ruben Ruzafa from Spain.
XTERRA veteran Ben Allen (Hills Tri Club) from Australia, who captured many of his 18 career XTERRA wins in Asia, is a really strong swimmer and can set the tone early, and on a good day, stay up front the whole way.
“So far my year has been developing and the form is slowly coming together,” said Allen. “I’m 100% healthy and ready to race. The goal is to execute my game plan to the best of my ability, and doing so will result in a podium position.”
Other contenders include two-time adventure racing world champ Jacky Boisset from France, pro mountain biker David Escolar from Spain, Alex Roberts from New Zealand – who finished third at XTERRA Japan on Sunday – and a trio of elites from Taiwan all ranked in the top seven of the Tour standings to include Yen-Ching Chiang (3rd), Yuan Keng Hsu (5th), and Chung-Yi Lin (7th).
The women’s elite race features the top four women in the Asia-Pacific Tour rankings fighting for the race and the tour title, plus a handful of wildcards that could steal the show.
Australia’s Penny Slater (Canberra Bilbys Triathlon Club) won the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race in Kenting back in March and the APAC Tour title last year as well. She has 167 points, two more than her coach, Jacqui Allen, and with a win in Kunming she could secure the tour title for the second year in a row.
“It’s been a long year with a lot of travel but I’m really excited to race in China on what I’m sure will be a tough course,” said Slater. “I’m not sure how I will go with the altitude but I’m excited for that added extra element which I’m sure will shake things up. In terms of a strategy for the race, I think it will be about saving energy especially with the altitude and to not go into the red zone for too long. My goal is to have another good performance and get experience racing in different conditions. Of course, I would always love to contend for a podium.”
The week after finishing second to Slater in Kenting, Jacqui Allen (Hills Tri Club) got the better of her at XTERRA New Zealand, which she won for the third straight year. Allen also finished ahead of Slater at the XTERRA European Championship (where she was 4th) and XTERRA Germany (5th) last month.
“My year has been fantastic, heading back to Europe after a 2.5-year hiatus reminded me what racing used to be like when I first started in XTERRA,” said Jacqui Allen, who was a firefighter in England before she began chasing XTERRA races around the world. “It was special to catch up with my family and put more race experience into the bank, and also important for me to race against the European girls so I could be more prepared for this race and XTERRA Worlds at the end of October.”
Allen, alongside her husband Ben, has been quite the explorer with XTERRA over the years, traveling to all the stops on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour.
“Super excited for this adventure and to visit a new location and race a new XTERRA course,” said Allen. “For us having another race in the region is a real plus. Since racing in Czech my training has been limited due to a minor shoulder injury, however, I am in a great place mentally. There is an opportunity to win the Asia-Pacific Tour with a good showing, but my focus is always on performing my best on the day. China is at altitude and this is something I need to be mindful of.”
XTERRA APAC Tour Rank – Name, NAT
Men: Rank – Name, NAT
2 - Brice Daubord, FRA
3 - Yen-Ching Chiang, TWN
4 - Ben Allen, AUS
5 - Yuan Keng Hsu, TWN
6 - Maxim Chane, FRA
7 - Chung-Yi Lin, TWN
12 - Kieran McPherson, NZL
18 - Alex Roberts, NZL
NR - Jacky Boisset, FRA
NR - David Escolar, ESP
NR - Ruben Ruzafa, ESP
Women: Rank – Name, NAT
1 - Penny Slater, AUS
2 - Jacqui Allen, GBR
3 - Carina Wasle, AUT
4 - Fabiola Corona, MEX
7 - Leela Hancox, AUS
NR - Myriam Guillot-Boisset, FRA
NR - Kate Bramley, AUS
NR - Johandri Leicester, RSA
NR - Elizabeth Orchard, NZL
NR - Leti Tang, CHN