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ITU World Champion Flora Duffy has won her second world title of 2016, the Xterra World Championships in Kapalua, Hawaii. This was Duffy’s third Xterra World Championship title in a row, equalling Julie Dibens record of three straight wins from 2007-09.
Always the favourite Duffy led from the outset and posted the fastest swim, bike, and run times to take the win in 3:14:59, more than 10-minutes ahead of runner-up Lesley Paterson from Scotland. Fellow Brit Jacqui Slack came 7th.
“The 3-peat is really cool. It’s actually probably even cooler with the fact that I also won the ITU World Championship and then to back it up with this, wow, it’s really a year I could not have asked for. And to tie Julie’s record of three in a row, it’s not easy to do, so many things can go wrong out there. You really need a bit of luck, to prepare meticulously.”
Duffy took part in her first Xterra triathlon back in 2013 and credits the off-road series with helping her success on the ITU circuit.
“The first Xterra I did in 2013 in Beaver Creek, I swore I was never going to do one again,” she explained. “Thankfully I did, and it sort of led me to finding myself in triathlon. Here you are racing against yourself, you have to do everything to get through the race, so I’ve kind of taken that to the road side of life. I’m going to race my own race and shape the race to suit my strengths. I think Xterra has really aided my success on the road.”
Together the 20-mile mountain bike, which traversed the West Maui Mountains, and the run had more than 4,000-feet of climbing, and wet conditions turned a fairly technical course into a “matter of survival” said competitor after competitor.
Duffy herself didn’t escape unscathed herself: “It was really tough out there,” she said. “I crashed on the bike, went over the handlebars and flying into the bushes. My gears weren’t working, and all the while Lesley was back there charging hard behind me.”
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21-year-old Mauricio Mendez, who posted the fastest run of the day with 0:42:06, won the men’s race, after overtaking the leader Ruben Ruzafa from Spain with one-mile left in the run.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Mendez, the first pro from Mexico to win an Xterra World title. “I’ve looked up to these guys for so long and now to be up here with them is very special. I’m just happy, really happy.”
“My first Xterra was in 2010 in Mexico, in the junior kids race, and I won it, and I remember Dan Hugo was first place at the time and thinking wow, this is amazing, I want to be like him,” said Mendez. “And I just got into it and from that day I dreamed about being the world champion. I don’t know, I feel like I am still sleeping.”
Both Mendez and Duffy earned $20,000 USD for their respective victories. The total purse was $100,000, and the event was filmed for international television distribution.