XTERRA’S Crown Jewel … Saipan

April 3rd, 2014

XTERRA’S Crown Jewel … Saipan

Stop No. 5 of the Asia-Pacific Tour takes XTERRA to the beautiful island of Saipan in the Northern Marianas – the sports original exotic destination. “There’s no place like it,” said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas. “This is a hallmark race and the allure of this island is really not possible to describe – but the pull is here.”

Honolulu, HI (April 3, 2014) – Bring on the Crown Jewel! Stop No. 5 of the Asia-Pacific Tour takes XTERRA to the beautiful island of Saipan in the Northern Marianas – the sports original exotic destination.

“There’s no place like it,” said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas.  “This is a hallmark race and the allure of this island is really not possible to describe – but the pull is here.”

XTERRA first ventured to Saipan in 2002, and 13-years later is still taking racers through caves where Japanese soldiers hid and fought from during the Battle of Saipan in 1944.

Some of the sports’ best all-time stories originated in Saipan, from an exploding neighbor island volcano that painted the sky black with ash during the middle of the day to the tsunami threat following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake that played tricks with the ocean currents.

“The impact it had on Saipan was a pushing and pulling current typical of the phenomena,” explained Nicholas.  “Just before the race, swimmers came in asking the course be changed from counter clockwise to clockwise as there was a big current.  We changed the direction but it was not just a simple current but the after-effects of the tsunami.  As swimmers hit the outside buoy, the current changed to pushing in and everyone nearly stopped!  Then the current sucked the water away from the beach and many were walking.”

Saipan is where XTERRA Hall-of-Famer Jamie “J-Dawg” Whitmore got her career kick-started in 2002.  It’s where Aussie Jason “Chalks” Chalker became a living-legend with an extraordinaire string of epic crashes.  Three-time Olympian Olivier Marceau made using Saipan as a base-camp for early season training and racing a popular decision.   Renata Bucher has a long-standing love-affair with the island and its people, saying it’s “not an XTERRA season without a stay in Saipan.”

Triathlete Magazine called it one of the ‘World’s Best” races in 2011.  Richard “Doc” Wall saved a man’s life in the middle of the race one year.  New York Times bestselling author Marty Dugard wrote about his adventures at XTERRA Saipan in his book, To Be A Runner.

At XTERRA Saipan, the race starts on the same beach where Marines launched their attack in ’44, then the bike course traverses nearly every inch of the island where the battles took place. At the American Memorial Park Museum, many who visit watch a heart-wrenching video on how it all went down, and then walk somberly through the interactive displays.

There are a lot of reasons to love Saipan – the people, history, and adventurous course are a few, however, the most recurring comment you’ll hear when talking to alumni, “it’s so much fun.”

A worthy international elite field is in Saipan to experience that fun along with Saturday’s championship event, highlighted by Dan Hugo and Ben Allen for the men; Renata Bucher and Jacqui Slack for the women.

Hugo has been on fire in 2014, winning all three majors he raced at – South Africa (Feb. 23), Philippines (March 15), and Guam (March 29).  Allen is fresh off a W at his home country race – the XTERRA Great Ocean Road off-road tri in Australia – and won this race each of the last two years.

Other contenders for the men include 4x Saipan Champ Olivier Marceau representing Switzerland, South Africans Bradley Weiss (2nd in Guam) and Nico Sterk (4th in Guam), Kiwis Olly Shaw (3rd in Guam) and Mark Leishman, Markus Benesch from Austria, Michal Bucek from Slovakia, and Charlie Epperson from the U.S.

In the women’s race Bucher is shooting for her 8th Saipan title in 10 years but will have to contend with defending champ Jacqui Slack from Great Britain – who just won in Australia last weekend, along with Carina Wasle from Austria and former Saipan resident Mieko Carey.

Read what some of the pros had to say in this preview from Roselyn Monroyo of the Saipan Tribune.

Year Men Women
2002 Mike Vine Jamie Whitmore
2003 Jason Chalker Jamie Whitmore
2004 Olivier Marceau Jamie Whitmore
2005 Olivier Marceau Renata Bucher
2006 Olivier Marceau Renata Bucher
2007 Olivier Marceau Renata Bucher
2008 Andrew Noble Renata Bucher
2009 Sam Gardner Renata Bucher
2010 Sam Gardner Renata Bucher
2011 Sam Gardner Shonny Vanlandingham
2012 Ben Allen Renata Bucher
2013 Ben Allen Jacqui Slack


  • Ben Allen (AUS) 2012-13
  • Jude Baker (Guam) 2003
  • Renata Bucher (Switzerland) 2005-13
  • Jens Buder (GER) 2012
  • Mieko Carey (Japan) 2008-13
  • Jason Chalker (Australia) 2002-05, 2010
  • Paul Chetwynd (Canada) 2011
  • Caroline Colonna (USA) 2011
  • Fabiola Corona (Mexico) 2006
  • Ryan DeCook (USA) 2006
  • Julie Dibens (United Kingdom) 2007-09
  • Rory Downie (Great Britain)
  • Anke Erlank (South Africa) 2002
  • Denilson Freitas (Brazil) 2011
  • Hideo Fukui (Japan) 2002, 2005
  • Sam Gardner (United Kingdom) 2007, 2009-11, 13
  • Dominic Gillen (USA) 2004
  • David Henestrosa (Spain) 2004
  • Michael Hiscott (Great Britain) 2010
  • Misaki Hosoya (Japan) 2003, 2004
  • Haruna Hosoya (Japan) 2003
  • Dan Hugo (South Africa) 2013
  • Noiaki Ito (Japan) 2006
  • Uli Katzer (Austria) 2009
  • Will Kelsay (USA) 2012
  • Cedric Lassonde (FRA) 2012
  • Arland Macasieb (Philippines) 2009
  • Gary Mandy (South Africa) 2002
  • Olivier Marceau (France) 2004-07, 2012-13 S
  • ibylle Matter (Switzerland) 2007
  • Jim McConnel (Great Britain) 2009
  • Josiah Middaugh (USA) 2004
  • Jody Mielke (Australia) 2002
  • Yasuko Miyazaki (Japan) ’02, ’04, ’05, ’07, ‘13
  • Makoto Nagatome (Japan) 2003
  • Andrew Noble (Australia) 2007, 2008-09
  • Misa Nonaka (Japan) 2005
  • Takahiro Ogasawara (Japan) 2008-13
  • Haruna Ouchi (Japan) 2002
  • Darelle Parker (Great Britain) 2010-11, 13
  • Kaley Parkinson (USA) 2002, 2003
  • Brandyn Rakita (USA) 2012
  • Pedro Ribeiro (Brazil) 2002
  • Ingrid Rolles (South Africa) 2005
  • Mami Saito (Japan) 2005-07
  • Ingrid Sala (Spain) 2004
  • Yuko Sasaki (Japan) 2005, 2006
  • Monique Sawicki (USA) 2006
  • Taro Shirato (Japan) 2002-10
  • Jacqui Slack (GBR) 2012-13
  • Emma Ruth Smith (Great Britain) 2010
  • Suzie Snyder (USA) 2011
  • Butch Sublemente (Saipan) 2013
  • Kyosuke Takei (Japan) 2005, 2007
  • Margus Tamm (Estonia) 2006, 2007
  • Melissa Thomas (USA) 2003
  • Richard Thomas (France) 2007
  • Jim Vance (USA) 2008
  • Shonny Vanlandingham (USA) 2009-11
  • Mike Vine (Canada) 2002, 2009-10
  • Graham Wadsworth (GBR) 2012
  • Carina Wasle (AUT) 2011-13
  • Bradley Weiss (South Africa) 2013
  • Jamie Whitmore (USA) 2002-07
  • Sascha Wingenfeld (Germany) 2009
  • Adam York (USA) 2011
  • Yu Yumoto (Japan) 2002-03, 2005-06

Note: Saipan is located in the middle of the Western Pacific Ocean – 1,300 miles south of Tokyo, 1,400 miles east of Manila, 3,200 miles west of Honolulu, and 2,900 miles north of Sydney. It offers up azure colored water, a powder blue sky, light island breezes, and tropical 85-degree days prevail year-round providing the perfect venue for XTERRA.  The race consists of a 1.5-kilometer ocean swim, a 30km mountain bike that climbs 1,500 feet to the highest point on the island, and an epic 12km trail run that weaves through heavy jungle and into caves used during World War II.


XTERRA’S Crown Jewel … Saipan

Contact Info

Trey Garman

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