Wellingtonian triathlete Todd Maddock has been training up a storm this winter in preparation for the challenging Xterra off-road triathlon world champs on 23rd October.
Located on the Hawaiian island of Maui it’s a challenging course in super challenging conditions and qualification is via specific races around the world such as Xterra Rotorua in New Zealand.
With just a few weeks to go I caught up with Todd to get the lowdown on the race course and how prep has been going for this truly awesome event.
RS: What is the Maui Xterra course like compared to Rotorua?
TM: Good question and realistically, apart from both being off-road tris they’re quite different. From my research online, videos and in talking to Xterra Maui expert, Struan Robertson, I’ve got a bit of insight on what to expect in Maui. While the Rotorua course is awesome for sure and has it’s fair share of course challenges, the world champs course in Maui has some demons on the course and in the climatic conditions.
Course differences are along the lines of clear calm Lake vs ‘rough’ open water swim [their words!], sweet forested singletrack vs 4wd wind swept volcanic ridgelines with 800+m climbing (and some single track), single track run around the lake vs jungle run and jumping over/or under fallen trees on a plantation with some decent pinch climbs in amongst it, but I think it’s the climatic differences are going to provide a unique challenge for someone coming from an NZ Winter.
RS: What do you think the greatest challenges will be?
TM: Following on from the first question! I have to say on the balance of things the racing conditions, and in particular the difference from home, will likely be the greatest challenge. Naturally the course has some distinct difficulties to overcome that can be approached through training to some degree but preparing for the hotter climate is a key to performance/survival on race day.
An average daily temp of 29 degrees in October versus Wellingtons winter and current average daily temp of 13 degrees means that adjusting to this is going to be crucial, and that’s not really a consideration when preparing for Rotorua, which comes at the end of our Summer and obviously has similar conditions to home.
Preparation for this has involved plenty of time spent in the sauna pre and post training sessions (makes it difficult to ‘warm down’!) and completing sessions with a few extra layers on to help the body to prepare for that warm feeling upon arrival and aid in helping speed up the adaption period from 4-5 days down to 2-3 days, which should result in better adaption during exertion by the time race day rolls around so things like fluid intake should be at near normal levels as opposed to being in an over-compensatory state.
Additionally I think the rough ocean swim will be a distinctly different challenge. Again near impossible to prepare for this in Wellington over winter but hoping that my plan of arriving early works and I get some quality time in the surf to make this a non-event come race day.
RS: How’s your build up been going and how have you been motivating yourself through winter training?
TM: The build has been going ok, far from ideal but there’s a number of reasons behind that. Fair to say I hit a bit of a snag in mid August with a shoulder injury holding back my swimming when I should have been ramping it up. Hoping that I’m on the other-side of it now and really hoping that I can get back some form in the next couple of weeks before flying out! Otherwise things have been building adequately, we are blessed in Wellington to have a variety of places for training with trails for running and MTB all over the place, I’ve been trying to make good use of them to bring a bit of variety and keep it fresh (especially when I can’t swim).
Motivation-wise it has been a challenge although not an insurmountable one. Cool, short dark days throughout winter don’t really provide the inspiration to get outside and train but the impending deadline of a hard world champs does provide the kick in the pants you need to stay focused. I’ve found having good training buddies and a diverse range of locations to train really does help get you out the door as well! I’ve been in a position when I have had a bit of flexibility with the time I am able to train which has been a distinct advantage this winter, when the better weather comes around I’ve been able to re-juggle the schedule and get out in amongst it! Also having suitable indoor alternatives has been essential, and that’s where the immovable deadline helps a lot.
With Xterra in mind I’ve also included a couple of trips to Rotorua to take part in the Nduro Winter Series to keep up a bit of racing in preparation and getting that race vibe going and additionally I also managed to do the first PNP spring race recently. Although conditions weren’t really similar to what we’re going to get in Maui it was definitely useful preparation as it’s hard to get into the mental ‘race’ mode when just training all the time and great experience evaluating courses and how to ride obstacles on the fly.
RS: What are you looking forward to most about the experience?
TM: I’ve always wanted to do a race in a tropical climate and when I got the chance to do this it was an irresistible proposition, importantly also this race has been on my bucket list since I started thinking about doing triathlon in the early 2000s so I’m really looking forward to ticking it off! My plan is to soak it all in, I may not get another chance to do this one and make sure I enjoy the day, they go so fast when the gun goes off!