On Saturday 6 May 2017, the XTERRA World Tour will stop in Tahiti for six races, on two islands over two days. Athletes will experience an infusion of Polynesian culture ‘paired with a brand new course on the island of Moorea’. Last year, the XTERRA race was on the island of Tahiti, where the XTERRA Trail Runs will still take place. This year, XTERRA athletes will board a boat on Saturday morning and will be ferried from Tahiti to the island of Moorea to run on ‘an imaginative new course that will prove to be a test of technical skill, mental toughness, and physical endurance’.
“We are delighted to expand the scope of this year’s race to two islands, to showcase our tremendous culture and unique landscape,” said Race Director, Jean-Michel Monot. “We will have over 500 athletes from all over the world competing in the weekend events, including some of the best in the world.”
Leading the pack this year will be the reigning XTERRA World Champion Mauricio Mendez. Challenging him are on course will be 2016 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champion Ben Allen and his wife, 2017 XTERRA New Zealand Champ Jacqui Slack Allen. Also at the start will be 2017 XTERRA New Zealand Champ Sam Osborne, and Frenchman Christophe Betard, who placed 6th in XTERRA Reunion in April.
For the past two years, Tahiti – and the island of Moorea – were included in the Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Awards. In 2015, The Huffington Post called Moorea ‘The Most Beautiful Island You’ve Never Heard Of’ – alluding to how far away this paradise is. Travelers first must land in Papa’ete, Tahiti, and then travel by ferry to Moorea, which is 12 miles away.
The Tahitian islands were formed by volcanoes and have the steep cliffs, lagoons and white sand beaches athletes might expect. However, the XTERRA team note that ‘beneath this extravagant beauty is an XTERRA course that has brought the pros to tears.’ Josiah Middaugh, the 2016 XTERRA Tahiti and 2015 XTERRA World Champ reportedly called the terrain “diabolical”.
XTERRA Technical Director and Hall of Famer Nico Lebrun, who placed third in last year’s race, said, “We were all happy just to finish the bike safe, and happy to start the run, but that is only because we didn’t know what was in store for us.” Although this year’s course is new, Lebrun expects it to be ‘just as beautiful and challenging as in previous years’.
XTERRA Tahiti is the 15th of 38 events in which amateur athletes around the world can qualify for the 22nd annual XTERRA World Championship in Maui on 29 October 2017. XTERRA Tahiti offers 26 qualifying spots and US$7,500 in prize money to the top six elite men and women.
XTERRA Tahiti will host a fun triathlon on Saturday after the race; and on Sunday, there will also be a 42 km Trail Run across the island of Tahiti through the Papenoo Valley as well as a Run & Bike. After the race, athletes will be served a light meal, and massages will be offered with the proceeds going to charity.