I received an email at the beginning of April that appeared a bit too good to be true. The offer of racing in Tahiti with complimentary flights was a little surreal but one I was happy to accept! I had spotted spectacular images last year from a off road triathlon traversing Tahiti, this was the race in which I would compete in it’s inaugural race under the Xterra brand.
Matt decided that he needed to come as well and we made our way to Tahiti a week before. Friendly French athletes and their encore made for a enjoyable lead-up which included a trip to Moorea to swim with sharks and rays (hmm… Steve Irwin…) but we survived and were ready to go come race day.
The swim was warm but unfortunately fairly choppy and without the crystal clear waters Tahiti is known for. However having a local mariachi band floating on a pontoon serenading us as we swam made up for it.
4wd tracks were our path over the island. Some rough and some so steep that only concrete could hold them to the hills. The bike started gently from the coast but got rougher and steeper as we made our way up a valley towards the centre of the island where peaks climbed almost vertically on either side and waterfalls cascaded down. Hills and I have a good relationship so I was looking forward a hard bike, but this was something else. To give some idea of the incline, the first 11km took 35min while the next 6km took 50min of battling to conquer their gradient (think Baldwin street in Dunedin and then multiply). Drummers marked the highest point of the bike as we started our descent to the other side of the island. Brutally steep down with blind corners made for a pretty exciting downhill, with a few amazing dams to ride over as the valley flattened.
I hadn’t given much thought to the run as in my mind completing the bike was going to be the challenge. I probably should have. Dozens of river crossings, mud, pinchy climbs, rough and rooty bush tracks… a brutal 10km on tired legs but a fantastic and beautiful course. To finish this amazing race a tahitian performing group welcomed us over the finish line.
Overall an amazing, tough race held in spectacular surroundings with generous hosts. Racing seems to be a pretty good opening to exploring new places!
More info from the race is HERE