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XTerra Albay: Ben Allen and Jacqui Slack, talk about off-road triathlon racing

Ben Allen and Jacqui Slack both finished in 2nd place at XTerra Albay, Philippines this past Sunday, AsiaTRI managed to catch up with them to talk about the race, their plans for the future and what makes XTerra racing so special

Ben, we learned you had a crash in Albay and that impacted the rest of your day, how exactly did your day go? What were the main challenges of the day?

Ben Allen: Good swim gave me a lead heading onto the bike, rode within my current capabilities, misjudge a rock garden at high speed, totally wiping myself out injuring the right side of my body, taking off skin and breaking a section of my handle bars. So very lucky to ride away and continue racing. I was in a position to challenge for the win, but the Xterra gods had other plans for me now, survive and get to the finish line as best I could.

The run was extremely painful, I felt like I was hoping around the entire 10km, battered and bloody, I had to keep fighting. Luckily for me I had a solid lead from the next competitor, and I was able to hold onto my second place.

Races like this you almost want to forget, because you think you had a bad race. But you never forget a race in the Philippines, win, loose or DNF. The Philippines and especially Sunrise events have the whole package. Memories that will last you a lifetime.

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How many times have you raced in the Philippines now and how do you compare the course and the race here with other events around the world?

B.A: I think I have raced about 14 times in the Philippines, both on and off road triathlons. The races in the Philippines provide each and every competitor with a unique experience you only encounter when you participate in one of their races. It’s life changing, one that takes you out of your comfort zone and rewards you with a satisfaction of accomplishment.

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The people, venues and kind hospitality is first class, above and beyond what is expected at a race. The Philippines delivers world-class races every time and even take it to that next level always trying to improve and get better.

Some races around the world that I have raced at seem content with how it has been run in the past and are afraid to change. But, change is good and new idea’s inspires competitors to relive the race and experience it in a different way.

Any advice for athletes that may want to race Albay next year? What are some of the most specific training sessions they can do?

B.A: Albay is challenging, that’s no secret. Some people I have talked too are afraid to step out side their comfort zone. But its not until you step out side your comfort zone, that you really feel alive.

Fear, pain and nervous are all signs you encounter, but its these feelings that make you a stronger person in life and in your racing. Some important training sessions to help in your quest for Off-Road glory, MTB hill reps 4-8mins repeat 3-5 times, two trail running sessions 30-45mins and one open water swim in a group 1-2km long a week.

 

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Jacqui, can you tell us about your background in the sport and your next goals?

Jacqui Slack: I grew up as a swimmer in the UK and at the age of 14 my swim career was over due to a serious back injury. Through the age of 16 – 21 I keep myself reasonably fit by going to the gym. At the age of 21 I went to support some friends in a local triathlon, i’d never heard of triathlon before but as soon as I saw what it was I was hooked and entered my first road triathlon, I won my age group and finished 3rd overall, every year I trained more and competed in more races until I eventually had the push from my coach to race elite.

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I’ve never looked back and since meeting my fiancé 5 years ago we made Xterra triathlon our life and we love it. I still have dreams to win a world championship medal and that’s my goal this year at the ITU world cross triathlon champs at Lake Crakenback Australia.

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You were very competitive in traditional road triathlons but recently shifted your focus to off-road races, what attracts you so much for the XTerra events compared to traditional road races?

J.S: The people are incredible everyone faces similar challenges through out race and we all have a mutual respect for each other. We get to race and be involved with age groupers therefore the atmosphere is always buzzing and everyone has a story to tell.

We get to travel to the most stunning locations off the beaten track whilst being at one with mother nature what more could you ask for.

Can you describe a typical training week? How does the training for an off-road race differs from traditional road tri-training?

J.S: The training is really quite similar consisting of 4/5 swim, bike, run sessions weekly, however we would do more strength work, drills and plyometcs to ensure we are ready for those steeps hills and obstacles. Technique is also very important so we spend time focussing on our MTB and trail running skills.

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