How to describe XTERRA Taiwan 2021?
A tough off-road triathlon? Fun 5km or 10km trail runs for newbies? Unbelievable 42km and 28km trail courses for the brave? An outdoor gear festival? A tropical vacation? An awesome party for nature lovers?
Let’s just say it was all of the above and more.
On the weekend of March 26-28, 2021, we gathered at Kenting, Pingtung County, a tropical paradise at Taiwan’s southern tip.
I signed up for the 42km trail race and below are the highlights of a great weekend.
The week before the event, I began receiving race information, maps, reminders, and course terrain introduction videos via emails. Everything was bilingual, clear, and concise.
Those were signs of a well-oiled race organizing machine.
Friday, March 27 – Race pick-up
I arrived at the main venue late afternoon on Friday to pick up my bib and race swags. I was greeted by a wide variety of sponsor booths ranging from mountain bikes and tri-suits to nutrition and SUVs. Lots of great gears, and I had a wonderful time chatting with the sponsored athletes and booth-keepers.
The race shirt alone is worth the ticket price. The swag bag, made with repurposed denim cloth, is super cool and environment-friendly as well.
And lets not forget everyone received the XTERRA x RUNIVORE Mighty Banana Protein Bar!!!!! ROARRR!!!!! Mightiest Foods, Real Recovery !!!!!!!
There were race briefs hosted by course directors, coaches, and elite athletes. Getting detailed knowledge of the races certainly puts participants at ease. I appreciate such thoughtfulness for participant safety.
Saturday, March 28 – Off-road triathlon and duathlon (bike & run)
The main event
Pre-COVID, XTERRA Taiwan was the host of the annual Asia-Pacific Championship, the first XTERRA Championship race on the global tour calendar. Although many international athletes weren’t able to participate this year, local elites and more than 200 participants came out in force on a sunny Saturday.
The 1.5km swim kicked off at 7am from Xiaowan (means “little bay”), followed by 23kms of highly technical mountain biking. To finish things off is a 12km course of scenic but murderous trail run.
High temperature and humidity added extra uncertainties to an already big challenge.
It’s not every day we get to see the best of the best triathletes battle against nature and each other in such an intimate setting. Truly incredible to see these superhumans up close and personal.
This year, XTERRA had a whole new setup for the Triathlon award ceremony. They set up an outdoor picnic with a delicious buffet spread. Coconuts, sashimi, BBQ, fresh salads, and free-flowing beverages.
It was a party full of war stories, good company, family, healthy yumminess – everything needed to recover from a hard day out in the ocean and mountain.
You know what made the picnic even better. All F&B were served in reusable utensils – true to their environmental-awareness motto of “We Play, We Protect”.
Sunday, March 29 – A trail running fiesta
This year, XTERRA Taiwan extended the course to include a 42km category to go with the classics – 28km, 10km and 5km races.
If I thought the day before was hot, Sunday shot up to 30+ degrees. A week ago, entire Taiwan was still comfortably in the teens and low twenties. It was quite a shock to the body.
The ideal blend of scenic, runnable and technical
The courses take us up the mountains and riverbanks of the Kenting National Park. A variety of terrains kept us on our toes – single-track dirt paths to stretch our legs. Steep climbs to test our lungs and minds. Fast downhills to show off our agility and technical skills.
Unmatched volunteer/staff-to-participant ratio
More than sufficient water stations, volunteers at every intersection and potentially tricky turns, course markings that made sense.
I did not hear about a single person who got lost or took a wrong turn.
Something for everyone
Many friends brought their entire family. Parents ran the 5km with their little kids. People who wanted a little more challenge took on the 10km. For more experienced runners and elites, 28km and 42km catered to their needs to test their speed and endurance.
The pushbike competition has become a tradition of XTERRA Taiwan. Look at these kids—cuteness overload.
Food and beverage trucks and a well-maintained pitch made the venue perfect for kids and family members to mingle while they await the return of their “heroes”.
I’ve done so many races that finisher gifts don’t mean much anymore. But everything was so well designed that I was genuinely appreciative.
A cool-looking medal, hand-made and non-chemical, environment-friendly soap for post-race wash, a lightweight and stylish tin cup for recovery green juice. Nothing extravagant but very thoughtful and practical.
If you missed out this year, we strongly recommend that you mark your calendar for 2022 as soon as the dates are announced.
XTERRA Taiwan in Kenting has RUNIVORE’s seal of approval.
Go to their website to learn more about their upcoming events and great gear.