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Cabigon, Watson and Button: Xterra Standouts

While Xterra racing is relatively new in Canada, some of the world's best off road triathletes live here.

While Xterra racing is relatively new in Canada, some of the world’s best off road triathletes live here. Here are a few age group Xterra athletes who stand out and compete with the world’s top off road triathletes.

Mike Cabigon – Edmonton, Alberta

After six years of elite mountain bike racing, Mike Cabigon made an Ironman race his first triathlon. He went on to complete six Ironmans in six different countries in 2008 to raise money for cancer research. Despite his success racing ultraendurance triathlons, “your return on time for Ironman is too low. You can only race so many Ironmans in a year, but with Xterras you can race almost every other week, plus the training is so much more fun. I enjoy shorter more intense training. But, beware, the overall fatigue is similar [to what you’ll] feel when training for an Ironman”.

Even though he has a sixteen-month old daughter at home and is the president of Venture Capital Company, Mike is still ripping up the Xterra circuit in 2011. He was the third amateur overall at the West Regional Xterra Championship in Las Vegas. Last year he was Canada’s amateur champion and placed third overall in Canmore. Cabigon plans on racing the Xterra events in Canmore, Whistler and then the Xterra World Championship in Maui. Last year, just 10 weeks before Worlds, Mike broke his collarbone. “I added bar-ends to my mountain bike and misjudged my clearance when entering a trail,” he remembers. “I clipped a post and the rest is history.”

Thanks to the injury, Cabigon will be doubly motivated in Maui this year.

Beverly Watson – Priddis, Alberta

This former world skydiving champion has been racing Xterras since 2004. Since then Watson has racked up two world age group titles and several podium finishes.  But 2010 marked her most impressive season when she did what athletes half her age would not attempt. She completed the Ironman World Championship in 12 hours 24 minutes then, two weeks later, took the 55-59 age group Xterra title in Maui. It was Watson’s fifth Xterra Maui race and she is thrilled that there will be a new course in 2011.

“Xterra racing is something you can do indefinitely. Although, with age, I have lost some of my ambition, I still like to race hard and discover ways to get faster. I highly recommend taking a downhill mountain bike clinic to help gain more confidence and skill.”  Living in Priddis, just south west of Calgary, Beverly has quick access to intense trails. “After 15 years of triathlons and five Ironmans, I have gone back to my youthful mountain bike roots with Xterra and I am loving it! I never feel like I have to train, but rather, I want to train.”

Katie Button – Collingwood, Ontario

Training and racing out of Collingwood Ontario, this physiotherapist was the only age grouper present at the ITU Cross Championships in Spain in May, where she placed fourth in the 30 to 34 age group.

Inspired by a feature article on Christine Jeffrey and excited to learn that triathlon exists off road, Button entered the Canadian Xterra Championships in Whistler last September. Despite the technical bike course and grueling 12 km run, she qualified to represent Canada at the World Xterra Championship in Maui by placing third in her age group. According to Button, Maui was a “sufferfest,” adding that lava rock can be unforgiving on the skin. The experience was unforgettable, but she still wants to go back.

“Xterra racing connects more with nature and is about learning new skills. I much rather play in the trails than on concrete. You just need to get out there and try it.” Katie plans on racing the two Xterra duathlons at Hardwood Ski and Bike, the Eastern Xterra Championships in Quebec then onto Whistler again to complete for another chance at racing against the Worlds best in Maui.  Her advice to triathletes is to join a local mountain bike group and get off road!

Xterra in Canada:

Xterra Canada offers 10 off road races across Canada. Aug 28th is the Eastern Championships in Mont-Tremblant where four Maui slots are available. Whistler will repeat as Canada’s Xterra Championship on September 4th with a $10,000  prize purse for professionals and 35 age group slots for the Xterra world championship. For more information on Xterra events across Canada, go to xterracanada.ca.