Last year was a historic one for Cross Triathlon, after four years of continental championships ITU hosted its first world titles in Extremadura, Spain. Over 400 athletes competed across the elite, junior, age-group and paratriathlon categories in the swim, mountain bike and cross country run discipline. This year, the sport takes another step forward as ITU partners with XTERRA for the second edition for the 2012 Shelby County ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships and XTERRA Southeast Championships.
Canada’s Melanie McQuaid and South Africa’s Conrad Stoltz are both back to defend the inaugural ITU Cross Triathlon titles they won in Spain last year, but both will be tested with strong Elite Men’s and Elite Women’s fields.
About the race:
It is the second ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships in history, after last year’s debut in Extremadura, Spain. This year the venue is Oak Mountain State Park. As Alabama’s largest park, Oak Mountain provides nearly 10,000 acres of pine-studded ridges and lush green hardwood bottoms. Located in the southernmost part of the Appalachian Chain, it boasts a trail praised by competitors as one of the most fun, fast, scenic and difficult with credit attributed to the work of Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers (BUMP) along with Alabama’s DCNR State Park Division, Shelby County and the City of Pelham. BUMP has spent more than 100,000 hours in design and construction of new trails over the past 20 years. The elite athletes will compete over a 1.5km swim, 30km mountain bike and 10km trail run.
Elite Women – Saturday 19 May – 14:00 (UTC/GMT -5) Click here for time in your area
Elite Men – Saturday 19 May – 16:00 (UTC/GMT -5)
Live text coverage from Shelby County at @triathlonlive on Twitter.
TOTAL PRIZE MONEY: $20,000 USD (equal for men & women)
Swim – Two-lap, 1.5km swim. Taking place in the clear waters of Double Oak Lake, the course is two 750-metre laps with a short beach run between loops and back into transition.
Bike – Three-lap, 31km mountain bike leg, that passes through the main athlete village and around scenic Double Oak Lake.
Run – Two-lap, 10km run of scenic trail with one major climb Click here for the course map.
STORIES TO WATCH FOR: Elite Women’s Race – Canada’s Melanie McQuaid took out the first ITU Cross Triathlon world title in Spain last year, and will return to defend her title in Pelham as will the two other women who finished on the podium with her in Extremadura, the USA’s Shonny Vanlandingham and Emma Garrard. However it’s a tough field to pick a favourite, with McQuaid, Vanlandingham, Switzerland’s Renata Bucher and Great Britain’s Lesley Paterson all have good form on the course in Shelby County. Last year, McQuaid bettered Vanlandingham and Bucher in the podium 1-2-3, but in 2010 it was Vanlandingham who beat McQuaid to the title as Paterson claimed bronze. McQuaid won in 2009, with Paterson collecting silver, while Vanlandingham won in 2008, where Paterson – last year’s Xterra World Champion, finished third. Adding to the competition is that Bucher and Paterson had to have a photo to decide who won in Las Vegas just last week. The race is Vanlandingham’s first in her return from a knee injury. Others to watch include Canada’s Danelle Kabush and Austria’s Carina Wasle, in a field that includes athletes from eight different nations.
Elite Men’s Race – Inaugural ITU Cross Triathlon World Champion Conrad Stoltz is also back to defend his title, on a course he has plenty of positive history. Stoltz has had an emotional two weeks, winning Xterra Las Vegas for his father, Gert, who passed away the week before and then returning to South Africa for his funeral. But he starts as favourite this weekend, Stoltz has won each edition of the race in Pelham since 2007, and said earlier this year that it’s one of his all time favourites. However, Stoltz might not have it all his own way this weekend, with a strong field line up including USA’s Josiah Middaugh, who finished second to Stoltz from 2009 to 2011. Others to watch include the USA’s Cody Waite, Branden Rakita and Craig Evans, Great Britain’s Richard Stannard and Australia’s Christopher Legh. The field includes athletes from 10 different nations, including representatives from Egypt, Venezuela and Slovakia.
PAST ITU CROSS TRIATHLON WORLD CHAMPIONS:
2011 Melanie McQuaid (CAN) Conrad Stoltz (RSA)