Julie Dibens was certainly being acknowledged as capable of getting a result at the XTERRA World Championships in Maui, but we doubt that they quite expected the dominating performance that she delivered on her debut. Her swimming strength was always going to be a problem for the other girls and she left the water a clear minute in front of Sibylle Matter (FRA) and two minutes up on defending Champion and three-time winner, Melanie McQuaid (CAN). Julie's lead was reduced to around a minute as McQuaid put in a big early effort over the first four miles of the bike but then Julie responded and opened the lead back up to 1:24 by T2. Bear in mind that, unlike most of the others chasing her, Julie had never been on the XTERRA bike course before - something that makes her achievement even more remarkable.
Once out on the run Julie continued to open her lead on McQuaid while the 2004 Champion, Jamie Whitmore (USA), began her charge through the field to try to get back into contention after exiting the swim some four minutes down and then working her way back up to sixth spot at T2. At the end of the race Julie had opened a gap on McQuaid to a staggering 8:28 with the fastest run of the day while Whitmore managed to work her way through the field to take third place.
"I think I pretty much had the perfect race, it was awesome! I had a good swim, and knew I had to have that lead coming out. Then I got out on the bike and put my head down, didn't look back, didn't ask for splits, just concentrated on what I was doing," said Dibens.
"Julie was really strong and I don't want to take anything away from her race because she's awesome and I look forward to another chance to do battle with her, but I didn't have the kind of race that really made it much of a battle and that's disappointing," said McQuaid.
In the men's race Conrad Stoltz (RSA) became the first man to take three XTERRA Championships, he previously won in 2001 and 2001, when he beat Olivier Marceau (SUI) by just over a minute. Stoltz went from tenth out of the water to first on the bike by the notorious Heartbreak Hill section at mile four, followed 20 seconds back by Marceau, then Cedric Fleureton (FRA), Bevan Docherty (NZL) and Eneko Llanos (ESP).
Six miles and more than 1,000 feet of climbing later (there's 3,000 total feet of climbing on the bike) Marceau had taken over the lead with Stoltz now 20 seconds back. Two minutes behind were Llanos, Docherty, and Felix Schumann (GER) who had moved into 5th. For the next mile the field was tasked with climbing roughly 600 feet to Ned's Peak, the highest point on the course at 1,400 feet.
What goes up, must come down and a sharp right hand turn at the Peak sends riders down the Plunge, a furious downhill and site of some of the most gnarly crashes in XTERRA history. This is the spot on the course where Stoltz was anticipating making his move, but Marceau held position and remained in the lead at mile 15.5. "I thought I could get away from him on the downhill but his technical skills have improved and I didn't catch him until right at transition," said Stoltz.
Stoltz and Marceau rode shoulder-to-shoulder into T2 and went stride-for-stride into the 6.9 mile trail run until the first big climb when Stoltz started to pull away. "We've been racing against each other for 11 years and I've never run faster and he's always been a superior athlete, especially running," said Stoltz. "At the 2000 Olympic games we were in the lead coming off the bike together and he ran two minutes faster, so I just thought I'd try to hang in there and see what happens. Then on the climbs I couldn't believe it, he started slacking off and I though he was playing games with me. I concentrated, stuck to my pace and he dropped off. I was really blown away. I would have never fancied running away from Olivier, and even the other strong runners because this field is classy." It turned out Marceau wasn't playing cat-and-mouse, he simply didn't have enough left in the tank to respond when Stoltz took off.
Marceau finished 1:11 behind Stoltz and in the runner-up spot for the third time; he was 19 seconds behind Hamish Carter last year and was also second in 2004. Perhaps the most remarkable feat of the afternoon happened on the bike course behind the two frontrunners as Brian Smith (USA) picked off more than 100 riders to move into the third position. Smith was 113th out of the water and moved up to third place by virtue of the fastest bike split, a blazing 1:30:51.
Tri247 contributor Sam Gardner came in a respectable 14th while Jim McConnel was unable to finish after problems on the bike. Unfortunately the age group results don't contain any nationalities but we think that there's at least one Silver in there, please let us know of any more. A full set of results is available here and there are some great photos on the XTERRA website: www.xterraplanet.com
||Conrad Stoltz (RSA) 2:40:54
||Jilue Dibens (GBR) 3:01:24
||Olivier Marceau (SUI) 2:42:05
||Melanie McQuaid (CAN) 3:09:52
||Brian Smith (USA) 2:42:35
||Jamie Whitmore (USA) 3:11:37
At the Jekyll & Hyde Park Duathlon, the autumnal weather didn't put the athletes off as over 150 competitors turned up to race. In the men's race the runaway winner was Lee Calderon (Tri Anglia) in 1:13:28, a minute up on Matt Hawcroft while in the women's race first place went to Lucy Bowen (Thames Turbo) in 1:23:05 ahead of Libby Cameron (Met Police). Full results are here.
The Charnwood Aquathlon in Loughborough saw former GB International, Andy Tarry (2XU TFN), take first place in 0:20:20 ahead of Daniel Winters and in the women's race Lisa Dargavel had a comfortable victory in 0:27:34 over second place finisher Alison Shepherd. Nice to see a certain Mr D Bellinham racing again with a 0:30:00, obviously his Instant Interview comments about his favourite racing distances were somewhat inaccurate! Full results are here.
At the Coed Y Brenin off-road Duathlon the team of Adam and William Haynes were the first across the line in 1:39:09 with the first individual male, Paul Robinson, coming in second. The first woman was Pilar Near (Eryri Harriers) in 2:08:30. Full results are here.
The Kendal Duathlon was won by Richard Hunt in 0:59:24 and Donna Edmunsdon Booker in 1:1102. Full results are here.
Anyone looking ahead to plan some events for next year might be interested to know that the Students Partnership Worldwide have once again proved that they can get permission to run a triathlon in Hyde Park - just like the big boys with their World Cup event! So, if you fancy an early-season race round the same circuit take a look at SPW's new event website: www.spwtriathlon.com