Osborne, Wasle win XTERRA Saipan
Sam Osborne from New Zealand and Carina Wasle of Austria captured the 16th annual XTERRA Saipan Championship crowns on a windy, yet beautiful Saturday morning in the Northern Marianas.
The win is Osborne’s second major victory on the XTERRA World Tour (he won Sweden, 2015) and it’s the 14th big win in Wasle’s storied 13-year career.
In the men’s race 4x Saipan Champ Ben Allen and Osborne were the first two out of the water, clocking 1.5km swim times of 19:17 and 19:18, respectively. Olympian Yuichi Hosoda was about 30-seconds back with Kieran McPherson close behind, while Brodie Gardner and Bradley Weiss were more than one-minute off the leaders pace.
“It was windy this morning and there was quite a bit of current in the water. I just stayed on Benny’s feet through the swim and we started to climb that hill together on the bike,” said Osborne. “I was able to pull away a little on the bike and towards the top it was Bradley Weiss behind me. I saw him coming and knew I had to have a good descent to keep some space between us because Bradley can run.”
Weiss posted the fastest bike split of the day (1:24:50) and entered the bike-to-run transition about 1:30 behind Osborne, who went on to post the fastest run of the day (50:15) to take the win.
“I was running scared the whole time. I saw what Bradley did in South Africa and know what he is capable of. That run is hard, a lot of jumping and changing direction,” said Osborne, the vice-champion of the XTERRA European Tour who finished 2nd at six of the 10 XTERRA races he competed in last year. “I’m so happy to finally get the win, it’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve had so many podiums, it’s great to finally break through.”
Osborne was also in awe of the island itself, saying “It is an amazing place. It seems so untouched, so beautiful. That’s what I really enjoy about this sport is the places. I might never have discovered Saipan if not for XTERRA, and I’m so happy I did. This place is great, the people are warm and so welcoming and the course is pure adventure. I’ve had a blast.”
The Kiwi will now head back to his hometown in Rotorua for XTERRA New Zealand on April 8, then continue his quest to steal the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour title from Allen with stops in the Philippines and Malaysia… “and maybe Tahiti too, I saw that Mauricio is headed there and I might just have to give him a run for his money in Moorea.”
In the women’s race it was Wasle from wire-to-wire with the fastest swim, bike, and run splits that added up to a winning time of 3:18:54. She jumped out to an early lead, transitioning from the swim to the bike about 40-seconds ahead of Mieko Carey, and never looked back.
“I had an amazing race today,” said Wasle, who has now won two in a row and three of the last four XTERRA Saipan titles. “I was ahead the whole race, and was able to get in a good rhythm on the uphills, then on the downhills I was clean with no crashes or flats.”
The overcast and windy conditions also played to Wasle’s advantage. “It was relatively cool here in Saipan today with the clouds and even a little breeze.”
Wasle credits her annual warm weather training in South Africa as the key to her success today, saying “I had a really good training camp and I feel good, I feel fit. I worked a lot on my swim and it payed off.”
The pint-sized Austrian will head back to Europe for the season-opener at XTERRA Malta on April 2nd, then try to defend her title at XTERRA Reunion on April 16 before getting back to the Asia-Pacific Tour stops in the Philippines and Malaysia.
XTERRA Saipan was the first of seven races on this year’s XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour. Next up is XTERRA Thailand on April 1 in Phuket, followed by XTERRA New Zealand on April 8, XTERRA Cebu (Philippines) on April 23, the $25,000 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Langkawi, Malaysia on April 29, XTERRA Tahiti on May 6, and the finale at XTERRA Japan in Hokkaido on September 2. Every race counts for points and the tour titles go to the pros and amateurs in each division who collect the most points by the end of the season. Learn more about the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour here.