With the Asia-Pacific series done and dusted following the inaugural Xterra Kunming (mainland China) late last month, NSW off-road racing royalty, Ben and Jacqui Allen (née Slack), closed out the season third respectively on the overall regional ladder.
Bolstered by a sensational swim start, which saw the British native-turned-Wollongong resident first out of the water, Jacqui Allen was able to remain in contention to finish fourth just over a minute off the podium behind third-place finisher Lizzie Orchard (NZL).
In total, Allen’s 75 points kept her on the overall five-race series podium with 240 points behind China race winner Fabiola Corona (MEX) with 244, and overall series winner Carina Wasle (AUT) with 247.
“Xterra China did not disappoint,” Allen told Triathlon NSW. “I had a solid race finishing fourth. Great swim, faded towards the end of the bike and ran within myself to hold on to my position meaning a third-place in the Xterra Asia-Pacific Tour. It was a tough day out there but what a fantastic course.
"Things are looking good and starting to shape up just in time for Xterra World Champs at the end of October.”
Like Jacqui, Australian fellow Hills Tri Club member Ben Allen also found himself first out of the 1.5-kilometre lake swim with a blistering time of 19 minutes 42 seconds with Frenchmen Brice Daubord and Maxim Chane, as well as eventual race winner Ruben Ruzafa (ESP), just seconds behind.
Disaster struck 4km into the 30km mountain bike ride when his derailleur snapped and got stuck in his rear wheel. But Ben Allen bravely soldiered on to finish 4 hours 30 minutes later to finish the race while pushing his bike toward the final two-lap 10km trail run.
“Tried to make it into a single-speed but the wheel was too destroyed to ride,” he posted on Facebook following the race. “Totally heartbreaking, but I wasn’t going to quit that easy, I thought to myself if Damien Rider can run a marathon carrying a mattress I can run 36km, 26km pushing my bike and a 10km Trail Run to finish.”
However, the 34-year-old New South Welshman (Wollongong) still managed to collect 34 points on the last-place result and finish third in the series, tied on 165 points with New Zealander Sam Osborne.
“For me my season and finishing third in the Asia-Pacific Tour has been a rocky one,” admitted the 18-time Xterra champion. “I had a few unlucky things go my way and to be honest I didn’t really get the chance to challenge for the title.
“I was lucky to finish third and walk away with something for my dedication and determination,” he continued before turning the discussion to the Xterra World Championships in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii on October 28. “Live to fight another day and that day is Maui in a few weeks. Back into training and focusing on being in the best physical and mental state to perform at my best.”
Daubord claimed the overall series win with 247 points, followed by countryman Chane at 207.
Featuring a star-studded elite field fighting for their share of $100,000 in prize purse, Xterra Worlds is the pinnacle or off-road triathlon (or cross triathlon). Jacqui Allen will look to improve on a career-best fifth in 2012, with three top 10 results also adorning her palmarés. While Ben Allen is a three-time bronze medallist (2014-15, 2017).
“Xterra Worlds is the toughest race. I’m all in and ready for the hurt locker,” Ben Allen told TNSW. "Plan is to concentrate on the process and delivering a performance I know I’m capable of.
“I’ve been praying to the Xterra gods and fingers crossed luck is on my side. I’ve got a big support team coming to cheer me on and that will get me fired up and ready for war!”
Following Xterra Worlds, the Allens will turn their attention toward Australia’s TreX Series hosted by In2Adventure, starting with the Queensland State Championships — TreX Redlands (October 26) — before racing the Victorian State Champs (Trex Goldfields), which also serves as a 2020 Age-Group ITU World Championships qualifying race — on November 23.
REMINDER: Only two months to go to the Goldfields MultiSport Festival, which features a half-marathon, 11k- and 5k running events, plus triathlon and kids races. Get In 2 it here: http://ow.ly/q99d50wwdHc
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