New Zealand’s Sam Osborne admitted passing out a couple times at the finish line in his previous races, but in last Saturday’s 2017 XTERRA Saipan, there were no signs of fainting as it even appeared he could do one more round of the challenging course.
Osborne breezed past 14 other pros, timing in at 2:34:28 in the 1.5-kilometer swim, 30K bike, and 12K run trail to win his first rodeo in XTERRA’s Crown Jewel.
“It feels great to come here for the first time and win the race against some of the best in the world,” said Osborne, who in an interview with XTERRA World last year disclosed that he collapsed in couple of races after cutting the tape.
Last Saturday, he crossed the finish line smiling and not fainting or even panting, as he raised his hands in celebration of his triumph in the very competitive men’s division pro field.
“It was a beautiful race day weather out there. Just perfect for me as I surprisingly have a relatively easier time in the bike and run courses,” said the 26-year-old triathlete, who reached the finish line so relaxed that he had lots of time posing for pictures with spectators and spent a little at the recovery tent.
Osborne and the more than 60 triathletes were greeted by the blowing wind and strong current in the waters off the Micro Beach for the swim leg, while they did the bike and run parts of the race under the overcast sky—no rain as earlier forecasted and in sheer contrast of the brutal heat that tortured the participants in the 2017 Ironman 70.3 Saipan.
The Kiwi was second in the swim leg as he and four-time XTERRA Saipan champion Ben Allen of Austalia walked and hopped the last few parts of the swim leg because of the choppy waters. Swimmers rushed into the current heading to the course, but found it more difficult going out of it and back to the shore and into the water for the second lap as strong winds were blowing westward. Osborne timed in at 19:18 in the swim leg, just a second behind Allen.
Then just into the first climb in the bike leg (Navy Hill area), the 2015 NZL Triathlon National Championships winner slipped past Allen. Osborn went on to submit 1:24:55 in the bike leg and reached the bike-run transition about four minutes ahead of Allen (1:29:08) and two against South Africa and XTERRA Saipan veteran Bradley Weiss (1:24:50).
“I was able to catch up with Sam on Mt. Tapochao, but once he came down and started going through the technical part of the course, I lost him,” said Weiss, who despite another runner-up finish was happy he completed the race.
“I came here with a bit of an injury (wrist) so I was a little cautious because the season has just started. I thought I am OK going into the run leg, but I slipped on my way down to one of the ravines and lost a few more minutes to Sam,” added Weiss, who after having the best time in the bike fell behind Osborne in the run leg.
The Kiwi had a blistering time of 50:15 in the run leg against Weiss and Allen’s 56:35 and 54:51, respectively. Weiss ended up about eight minutes behind Osborne after crossing the finish line at 2:42:18, while Allen’s total time was listed at 2:43.16 as he completed the Top 3.
“I still feel happy that I make it to the podium. It was one good race and despite my limited preparations, I made it in one piece,” said Allen, who managed to keep the course record (2:31:05/2012) despite Osborne’s outstanding XTERRA Saipan debut.
Meanwhile, last year’s champion Brodie Gardner had a tough luck in his failed attempt to defend the men’s pro crown.
Gardner (2:55:58) dropped to eighth place this year as he lost precious minutes in the bike leg when a big nail got stuck into his tires on his way to an uphill road in Navy Hill.
“I knew there was something wrong with my bike so I had to go down and checked it,” said a frustrated Gardner, who was more than two minutes behind Osborne and Allen after the swim leg (20:28) and gave away more minutes in the bike leg after posting 1:37:00. He was with three more pros when he reached the bike-run transition area.
“It was hard getting into your rhythm when you are bunched up with several bikers,” said Gardner, who later suffered from cramps halfway through the run leg that he still completed under one hour (57:43). “The racing Gods are simply not with me today.”
Wasle gets third title
In the women’s race, Carina Wasle got her third XTERRA Saipan title and second in a row after winning her one-on-one showdown against Mieko Carey.
Wasle led right from the get-go for the very convincing victory, as she made it to the finish line at the 3:18: 54 mark, nearly 16 minutes ahead of Carey (3:34:29).
“The weather made it easier for me to finish this race,” said Wasle, who was way ahead of her lone rival that she had time to glide as she entered the finish line loop.
The Austrian completed the swim leg in 23:51 for nearly a two-minute lead over Carey (24:39). Wasle then gained more cushion in the bike leg after submitting 1:48:44 against Carey’s 1:55:15. Then in the run leg—her favorite—the three-time XTERRA Saipan champion pulled away, posting 1:06:10 versus Carey’s 1:14:35.
SOURCE: SAIPAN TRIBUNE By Roselyn Monroyo