Fast forward to October 2013. 23 races completed, 1 more to go. Though there may have been plenty of things to grumble about over the preceding 6 months, finishing the XTERRA Across America journey in Maui has not been one of them. During the 5 weeks between Nationals and Worlds, Brent trained like a madman and watched his diet down to counting the number of almonds he had for a snack (thanks, Cliff). He did not want to be the guy who came in last, just happy to be there. This was not to be a race to take it easy or just finish. This was it: the last race of a very long ride. Go hard or go home!
|The Ritz Carlton Kapalua|
While Brent was off doing his thing, I was able to roam the grounds of the race venue - The Ritz Carlton Kapalua (not too shabby!) - say 'hello' to many of the new friends we've made and soak up the atmosphere of the World Championship race. 23 countries were represented at this race - truly the best XTERRA competitors in the world. There was a certain energy that was unlike any of the previous races. It was the perfect combination of amp'ed up pre-race excitement and the laid-back calm (relief?) that comes from knowing that all the work is behind you - the rest is just fun. Listening to the athletes in the days before the race, you were just as likely to hear them talk about the moves they did for the XTERRA dance video, as how they were planning to manage the technical aspects of the bike course.
The main concern for all of the competitors was the heat. While the temperature in Maui is a predictable 83° most of the time, the forecast for race day was a blistering 91°. Race day dawned with the mercury steadily rising and the added bonuses of no trade winds, and a volcanic gaseous haze that hung in the air, completely hiding the view of the nearby islands. Be ready boys and girls...this is no joke!
Soon enough, the pre-race festivities were completed, the canon blew, and it was time for training and determination to take over. In the telling (and re-telling) of the race, Brent will say that his swim split was awful - but once he got to the bike, the race went really well. Managing nutrition and the heat were definitely the keys to success that day, and Brent had a handle on both. There was a feed zone about midway through the bike course where I was able to give him a new bottle of fuel, and his EPC coach, Cody Waite, gave him the best advice ever for managing the heat during the run: cut one leg from a pair of women's pantyhose, fill it with ice and drape it around your neck. It started out a little bulky, but lasted and kept him cool for nearly 30 minutes as he battled up the 3 mile climb to to half-way point of the run. He counted at least 10 guys in his age-group that he passed as he motored up the hill. One last time, he did the Blazeman roll across the finish line, placing in the top 40% of his age group. Among the top XTERRA athletes in the world? Certainly a finish to be proud of!
Having met so many people throughout this adventure, the post-race celebration was made all the more fun by being able to share it with friends. For lunch, we hit Kimo's for some big, juicy hamburgers with the Browns (Doug, Elaine & Roman - you might remember from our New Hampshire trip). The awards presentation was held at dinner and there was nothing better than seeing so many friends up on the podium (pictures included in the race album). After dinner was the traditional (infamous?) XTERRA Halloween party. Brent and I kept it tasteful as super-heroes...and we'll wrap that up by saying just that it is pretty funny to see what happens when world-class athletes let their hair down.
With the final race in a premier vacation spot, we took advantage by staying in Maui for a few days after the race - the calm after the storm. We've come a long way since an email in April 2012. XTERRA Across America has truly been the adventure of a lifetime, for both of us. In answer to the "Let me know how that works out for you...", I guess we can say that it worked out pretty well.