XTerra Samui Course Review – Thailand’s First Offroad Tri
by Vinnie Santana (AsiaTRI’s Contributor and Triathlon Coach at ironguides.net)
XTerra Samui was Thailand’s first XTerra event, the traditional off-road triathlon series that combines open water swimming, offroad MTB cycling and offroad running. The organizers AMA events also hosts several adventure races, trail runs, and road triathlons every year, mostly in Thailand, creating a perfect background for this type of race.
On the same day of the main event, there was also a Duathlon, a sprint distance triathlon, and two trail run races, 15km and 31km.
CANCELLED SWIM DUE TO SAFETY CONCERNS
A week before the event, a Russian child was stung by the very toxic box jellyfish and had a temporary cardiac arrest, luckily he was rescued on the spot and taken to the hospital. On the same weekend, several beaches in Phuket were shut down due to an abnormal numbers of jelly fish washed ashore by storm surf. Due to these vents, the local authorities advised the organizers to cancel the swim due to safety concerns. The race was adjusted to a duathlon format, with a run replacing the swim leg.
For next year’s event, the organizers are considering one or a combination of the following measures to avoid the same issue: different city in Thailand, different time of the year, multi-loop swim course after netting any potentially jellyfish out.
On the first year, XTerra Thailand’t didn’t offer any qualifying slots to the XTerra World Championships that is held annualy in Maui, Hawaii – but it will for next year’s as well as offer points to the local Asia Pacific Champs, along with other 2 XTerra events.
Even if Samui happens to become a trail run or a duathlon only next year, there will be a XTerra Triathlon and the course review below can still be useful as the new event may still comprise of mountain biking or trail running
The distances were 25k for the Standard distance and 18km for the sprint distance. Typically courses are considered too easy, as in non-technical or too challenging, but Samui was a good balance of both.
Technical enough to please hard core Mountain bikers, but also beginner friendly that allowed less skilled cyclists to enjoy the race without needing to push their bikes downhill or uphill too many times.
Athletes experienced a mix of single track, dirt roads, concrete roads, grass and all types of natural obstacles such as sand, river crossing, and loose rocks. After an initial long and steep climb, the course gave way to small hills, undulating or mostly false-flat.
The logistical component of the race was well taken care of, well-marked with several signages and colored ribbons indicating the way of each event, and enough aid stations to take care of hydration and off-road medical staff. There were two transitions and organizers took care of taking your bags to Transition 2 then bringing your bike back after the race to transition 1
Watch the interview of winners of both the Standard and Sprint races on their take about the course
The first run was 4.3km long for the standard/long distance race and 3.3km for the short race. It mixed a run through Bophut beach town and fishing village, coming back on the beach. All flat and very spectator friendly.
The second run started in the middle of the jungle and distances were 7km for the standard/long distance race and 4.5k for the short course event. It was a lot more technical, and hilly, forcing even some of the most experienced athletes to walk both up and downhill.
Overall, Samui was a great introduction to athletes that want to transition from traditional road triathlons to offroad racing. The island is also of one Thailand’s premiere destination tourist venue making it a perfect weekend get away.
RELATED: Best Photos of XTerra Samui Island, Thailand
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