Xterra is a type of offroad triathlon that involves 1.5km of swimming, 30km of offroad mountain biking and 10km of offroad running. Malta’s first Xterra triathlon team – Alan Borg, Natalino Farrugia and Lara Buttigieg – hit the Xterra Italy race in the picturesque Lago di Scanno in Abruzzo. The novices were led by the experienced Danica Bonello Spiteri, who competed within the professional (elite) category. The rest of the team competed in the age group category.
The team had been training for six months, but upon arriving on the race course, the inclinations and gradients of the bike and run surpassed all expectations. Race day started with a 1.5km lake swim. Danica Bonello Spiteri led the women’s pro category by exiting from the water first and starting with a lead on the bike section. Out on the mountain bike route, each of the athletes raced cautiously – not starting too fast whilst being careful on the technical side. In fact both Alan Borg and Danica Bonello Spiteri sustained falls off the mountain bike in the technical downhills. The bike section had a 10km continuous uphill with temperatures reaching a maximum of 38°C. After climbing the hill, which in effect is a ski slope in winter, there was a 5km ski slope treacherous downhill with 180 degree bends within it. However each of them rose to the occasion and cautiously rode down despite a few minor scrapes and grazes en route. The mountain bike was followed by a tough run, which included a running through steep village hills, running up steps, and at the 4km mark, running (or rather walking) up another ski slope.
All four athletes completed the race with Bonello Spiteri placing sixth in the professional (elite) women’s category (4hrs 01min), Alan Borg 19th (4hrs 22 min) and Natalino Farrugia 40th (5hrs 01min) in their respective age group categories. Lara Buttigieg was the highlight of the day as she won her age group category (20-24 years) by completing the event in 5hrs 17min. This earned her a qualification spot to the prestigious Xterra World Championships to be held in Maui, Hawaii this October. Maui is where Xterra orginated. Up till now only Danica Bonello Spiteri was the only Maltese athlete to ever qualify for Maui and actually go race there, in 2014.
The team thanks the Malta Triathlon Federation for its support to enable participation in this race, as well as People & Skin led by Dr. Joanna Delia for the kind support throughout season 2016.
Xterra Malta is the first in the European Xterra Race Series and set in the beautiful nature reserve of Majjistral in springtime on April 2, 2017.
© 2016 – VIDA Magazine