Flora Duffy up for Xterra World Championship title defence
Flora Duffy will be looking to cap what has been a truly phenomenal and historic year in glory at the Xterra World Championship in Kapalua, Maui, tomorrow.
The defending champion is gunning for a record sixth title at the event and is going in with plenty of momentum, having won the World Triathlon Championship in Abu Dhabi on November 5 in her previous outing.
Duffy is a firm favourite to retain her title despite competing among a formidable field, which also includes multiple US Xterra and World champions Suzie Snyder and Melanie McQuaid as well as reigning ITU Cross Tri World Champion Loanne Duvoisin.
The 34-year-old is up for the challenge and is equally as thrilled to be competing again at one of her favourite race venues, where she won an unprecedented fifth Xterra World title in 2019.
“I’m excited to race this weekend in Maui,” Duffy told The Royal Gazette. “It will be my final race for the season so I look forward to my season ending.
“It’s been a great year. It’s been a big year and so I’m ready for it to end, and Maui is a really great place for the season to end. I always enjoy racing here and spending time on this really beautiful island.”
As well as her competitors, Duffy has also kept a close eye on the weather conditions which could potentially force race organisers to reduce the event to a duathlon instead.
“The race could be a little different this year as they’re expecting a really big swell to roll in this weekend,” she added. “They are predicting 13-15 foot waves so it potentially could be unsafe to swim and might be changed to a duathlon.
“It also could potentially be quite rainy which then changes the trail conditions drastically. It makes them very muddy, very slippery and it’s even more challenging to ride the course so that’s another dynamic that we are monitoring.
“Between the weather, the rain and the big swell Xterra just keeps you on your toes, that’s for sure. So we will wait to find out and then just take it as it comes.”
Duffy says the unpredictable weather in Maui is what always makes the event fun and challenging.
“I think what’s kept it fun coming back to Maui is that every year it’s different,” she added. “You never get the same conditions. It’s always something new to adjust to and that keeps the race fun.
“The course might stay the same but every year, I’ve raced it in different conditions to make it challenging or quite fun.”
Victory would be a fitting end to an extraordinary and memorable year of competition for Duffy, who earned Bermuda’s first Olympic gold medal, won a record-equalling third World Triathlon Championship Series title and also captured glory on her debut at the Super League Triathlon championship series finale.
After all is said and done on the racecourse, the highly-decorated athlete plans to begin her well-earned vacation in Hawaii.
“I look forward to ending my season and then taking some down time,” Duffy said. “Just really resting up and hopefully soaking in what a year it’s been and just celebrating those moments.”
Meanwhile, South African Brad Weiss will defend his title among the men’s field, which also includes past winners Rom Akerson, Mauricio Mendez and Josiah Middaugh and Ruben Ruzafa, the seven-times World champion.
The Xterra World Championship consists of a 1.5 kilometre swim, 30-40 kilometre mountain bike ride and 10 kilometre trail run.
The championship was cancelled last year due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.