This year, the highlight of the XTERRA European Tour will be the weekend of August 3-4 when Prachatice in the Czech Republic hosts the XTERRA European Championship race and a new fan-friendly short track event.
The 11th stop on the 14-event XTERRA European Tour will dish out US$30,000 in prize money and 51 qualifying spots into XTERRA Worlds in Maui for amateurs. The organisers add that the elite field will be of the highest calibre.
All the action will be shown live online and on Czech television.
The main event features a point-to-point race format that begins with a 1500m swim in the warm waters of Kristanovicky Lake and continues with a challenging 35km point-to-point mountain bike through Sumava National Park. The bike features a mix of single-track, fast fire roads and steep descents and ascents, and a new climb this year around 27K in to take the total ascent up to 1650m.
“The first part of the course is very steep, but all the climbs are rideable,” explained Race Organizer Michal Pilousek. “In addition to the new climb we have added another new section at around the 5K mark, where we found some technical downhill around old castle ruins. We also found some nice tracks in a nature reserve near the Blanice River that feature a very narrow trail through the trees with some logs to jump over and a fjord.”
Pilousek added that the second part of the course is flatter with the opportunity to experience views before beginning the descent back down to Prachatice and through the streets of the old town all the way to the city centre of Prachatice.
Finally, the 10.5km run course will take place both in the city streets as well as the forest. It finishes next to the Statue of Justice on the Great Square of Prachatice, adding another measure of old European tradition.
“We have added something really special to the run this year,” added Pilousek. “Athletes will run over the old 16th century town walls to the internal old town park before entering the great square in Prachatice via the old gate built in 1527.”
Also new this year, the XTERRA European Championship will also debut a new XTERRA short track format. This race is a chance for the top 20 men and top 15 women from the XTERRA European Championship race on Saturday to test their skills the following day on a short, fast, and dynamic course.
The short track race on Sunday, August 4th will consist of a 400m swim, which will take place in Kristanovicky Lake. The 14km bike course consists of three, 3.5km laps of a steep route full of obstacles. The run is a short 4km and will consist of three, 1.3km laps.
Not only is this format new for athletes, but spectators will have an ‘up-close and personal experience of XTERRA’. The top male and female athletes will earn an additional US$5,000 in prize money. This year’s purse of US$25,000 for the top seven men and women combined with the money from the XTERRA short track provides a total purse of US$30,000.
Prachatice, the home of XTERRA Czech, is located in the south of the Czech Republic, 30km from Austria and Germany. The city is also an easy drive from Prague, Munich, and Linz airports. The organisers add that the cobblestone streets of the city centre in Pachatice make it a perfect venue for the XTERRA European Championship because of its ability to accommodate several hundred athletes and thousands of fans who will come to watch the race.
Additionally, the event will include a 5K trail run, a kids duathlon, an XTERRA Sprint (300m swim, 14K bike, 5K run), and relays. The organizers will also put up a big screen TV in the main square to broadcast live coverage of the events.
XTERRA Czech was the site of the first-ever XTERRA European Championship in 2004; and 2019 marks the first year the race returns to its roots. It’s the oldest XTERRA in Europe still on the schedule and began under the leadership of Michael Pilousek Sr.
Today, his son, a former XTERRA elite, is continuing his father’s tradition.
“It’s fitting that the European Championship returns to XTERRA Czech where it had its origin,” said Nico Lebrun, XTERRA Europe Director. “XTERRA Czech is the ultimate mix of wild racing in the woods of Sumava National Park and riding through the historical Renaissance city of Prachatice, which makes it wonderful for both athletes and spectators.”
XTERRA made its debut in the Czech Republic among the castles of Hluboka nad Vltavou in 2002, moved to Spindleruv Mlyn in 2009, and then was held in the historic city of Prachatice in 2011 where it remained through 2015. After a two-year hiatus, the Pilousek family brought XTERRA back to Prachatice in 2018.