Ben Allen from Australia and Jacqui Slack of Great Britain won the 14th annual XTERRA Saipan Championship race in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on Saturday. It's the fourth year in a row Allen won the title, matching Olivier Marceau's streak from 2004-07. For Slack, it's her second Saipan victory in three years. Both led from wire-to-wire in wet conditions that made the already difficult jungle bike and run courses all the more treacherous.
"Some of the worst conditions I've ever raced in. The rain didn't let up and it made for super slippery conditions," explained Allen.
Allen, one of the sports best swimmers, used those skills to bridge an early one-minute gap over Bradley Weiss and backed it up with the fastest bike and run splits of the day to win in convincing fashion with a time of 2:40:25, more than six-minutes ahead of Weiss.
"The climbs on the bike where the only place to really push because you had to be so careful on the descents not to crash. The descents were going to be make or break your day so if you could ride within your own ability and stay upright you were in for a good day."
For Weiss, who was forced to take some time off from training leading into this race because of a troublesome iliotibial band (IT band), the results are satisfying.
"Obviously I am far from my best shape now but was still very excited for my trip out to the Islands. My hopes are to finish well in the XTERRA Asian Tour and take some momentum into the U.S. Tour," said Weiss.
"All being said I am optimistic for the future and feel confident this injury is finally behind me. It's been a frustrating few months but the future looks bright and for that I am excited."
Former XTERRA Japan Champ Takahiro Ogasawara finished in third, followed by Markus Benesch of Austria and Aleksandr Dorovskikh from Russia.
2015 XTERRA Saipan Championship Results:
Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands - March 28, 2015
|Pro Men Results||Time||
|Pro Women Results||Time|
|Ben Allen (AUS)||2:40:25||
|Jacqui Slack (GBR)||3:02:01|
|Brad Weiss (RSA)||2:46:45||
|Carina Wasle (AUT)||3:07:33|
|Takahiro Ogasawara (JPN)||2:48:19||
|Mieko Carey (JPN)||3:20:45|
|Markus Benesch (AUT)||2:52:24||
|Renata Bucher (SUI)||3:22:11|
|Aleksandr Dorovskikh (RUS)||2:55:51||
|Daz Parker (GBR)||3:36:40|
In the women's race Slack embraced the intimidating conditions right from the start. She was first elite woman out of the water, had the best bike split, and sailed into the finish with a winning time of 3:02:01, more than five minutes ahead of last year's winner Carina Wasle of Austria.
"I thrive on the more challenging conditions," said Slack. "I love the added dimension the rain throws in, and always seem to perform well when it's slick and muddy. My biggest challenge was myself today. I knew I was coming into the race fit but I was more concerned about being recovered from a 100k MTB race I did last weekend in Melbourne."
Mieko Carey, who was introduced to the sport here in Saipan more than a decade ago, finished in third. Seven-time XTERRA Saipan Champ Renata Bucher placed fourth, and Daz Parker was fifth.
The XTERRA Saipan Championship was the second of five races in the 2015 XTERRA Asian Tour that will crown series champions at the season finale in Langkawi, Malaysia this May.
With his runner-up performance today coupled with his Philippines win, Weiss now has 190 points followed by Allen with 182 (he was third in the Philippines). In the women's chase Slack also has 190 points, following her runner-up performance to Flora Duffy in the Philippines with a win today.
Photo Credits: Mark James