Flora Duffy wins XTERRA World Championship

Monday 28 October 2019

It was Duffy all day long with the fastest swim, bike, and run times to take the tape in 2:49:23.  With the win Duffy becomes the first elite – male or female - to win a 5th XTERRA World Championship, and she’s now won her last 12 XTERRA races and 17 of 20 since 2013.

She had the fastest swim by over a minute, the fastest bike split by almost six minutes and the fastest run time by about three minutes. This is especially impressive given that she spent most of this year focusing on getting healthy after suffering a tear in her post-tibial tendon, which attaches the bones in her calf muscle to the bones on the inside of her foot.

“Getting healthy has been the main thing this year,” said Duffy, after the race. “So it’s great to win the XTERRA World title in a year that has otherwise been quite disappointing. This is a huge, lovely highlight to end my year with.”

Duffy came out of the water with the elite men’s leaders and was third overall heading into the swim to bike transition.

“I felt pretty good coming out of the water and tried not to extend myself too much,” she said. “On the bike, I knew I had to make the most of that first, three-mile climb because after that, the course gets technical, and that’s not really my strength.”

Despite the slick conditions, Duffy opened up a significant lead before the bike the run transition.

“During the run, I tried not to allow myself to say, ‘I’m going to win this,’ because this is XTERRA and anything can happen. However, once I got off the beach and headed towards the finish, it was a great feeling to know that I was going to win. It was stressful coming into XTERRA this year, because no one has ever won five XTERRA World titles. It’s a great feeling to be the first person to do that.”

Three-time and 2018 XTERRA World Champ, Lesley Paterson, also had a fantastic race despite a hamstring injury. She was out of the water quickly and dominated the bike and run in her usual fashion.

“I had a great swim and am super chuffed about that,” said Paterson. “I really went for it on the swim and I got into second pretty quick on the bike, but Flora was in a league of her own. She’s on fire.”

Once Paterson hit second place, she held onto it for the rest of the race and crossed the finish line in 3:03:36.

“I really did enjoy myself out there,” she said, “Because of my hamstrings, the run wasn’t pleasurable, but that’s OK. I have the off-season to heal them up.”

Paterson has earned her reputation of being one of the toughest competitors in the sport. In the 2017 XTERRA World Championship, Paterson finished fifth, despite competing with a broken pelvis. Like Duffy, she came back even stronger and won last year’s race by over ten minutes.  She has now finished in the top two at eight XTERRA World Championship races since 2009.

While Duffy and Paterson held onto their positions, the race for third was a tight one between American Suzie Snyder, Czech Republic’s Helena Karaskova Erbenova, New Zealand’s Lizzie Orchard, and France’s Morgane Riou.

“In the water, I thought I might not survive the swim,” said Karaskova Erbenova, “But then I finally touched the feet of Morgane Riou and we swam like in Europe. But on the bike, I couldn’t catch any corners and was over-braking on all of them. I was OK on the uphills, so I tried to maintain my tempo and pass one girl at a time.”

Karaskova Erbenova was fifth at the bike to run transition. Snyder was in third, Orchard in fourth, and Riou was in sixth.

On the run, the women changed things up. First, Karaskova Erbenova passed Snyder and Orchard and moved into third place, which she held until the finish.

“I was working hard,” said Karaskova Erbenova, “Because Morgane Riou was coming very fast from the back.”

“At T2 I was in sixth, about two minutes from the other girls” said Riou, who hasn’t been able to run for about eight weeks because of an injury. “I was happy to see Lizzie and Suzie on top of the climb on the run and pushed hard to pass them on the descent. After that, I just gave it everything.”

In that same time, Orchard moved passed Snyder and held onto fifth place.

Helena Karaskova Erbenova was third in 3:04:38. Her last major performance was a fifth-place finish at XTERRA Worlds in 2016, and her podium finish this year was made even more sweet as this will be Karaskova Erbenova’s last race as an elite.

“I’m retiring after today, and this is the greatest celebration I can imagine,” she said. 

Elite Women    
1 Flora Duffy Devonshire, Bermuda 2:49:23
2 Lesley Paterson Stirling, Scotland 3:03:35
3 Helena Erbenova Jablonec nad Nisou, Czech 3:04:37
4 Morgane Riou Fontenay Aux Roses, France 3:05:22
5 Lizzie Orchard Auckland, New Zealand 3:05:32
6 Suzie Snyder Reno, Nevada 3:06:00
7 Alizee Paties Dijon, France 3:10:55
8 Penny Slater Wamboin, Australia 3:11:53
9 Samantha Kingsford Tirau, New Zealand 3:15:46
10 Carina Wasle Kundl, Austria 3:16:31

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