We caught up with the two-time Ironman World Champion from Boulder, Colorado and asked him why he’s taking his talents off-road…
“Because all I’ve ever heard is how much fun XTERRA races are,” said DeBoom.
“I have a passion for mountain biking more than anything on the road, and I hope my skills eventually catch up with how much I love being out on the trails. XTERRA still seems to be a bit of a throwback to when I first got into the sport, and I am truly craving that after so many years focused on one event of the much longer variety. This sport is supposed to be about fun and challenging yourself. It is time the fun part came back into the sport for me, and I know this will challenge me.”
Speaking of challenges, just last month DeBoom won the famed Norseman Xtreme iron-distance triathlon in Norway, dubbed one of the hardest triathlons in the world.
While it is clear he has the endurance for XTERRA, which has winning times of about 2.5 hours as opposed to 8.5 hour Ironmans, the question all road triathletes are asked before their first knobby tire race – do you have mountain bike skills?
“My mountain biking is coming along. I’ve been riding for quite a number of years, but racing is totally different. I know I need some time getting used to race speeds and efforts. It is going to be hard, and I hope my skills improve over the next month,” said DeBoom.
DeBoom joins a long list of past Ironman World Champions to give XTERRA racing a try, a list that includes Chris McCormack, Peter Reid, Faris Al-Sultan, Greg Welch, Scott Molina, and Scott Tinley. None of those big names ever won an XTERRA USA or World Championship, however, and perhaps the best showing came from Tinley who placed 4th in the inaugural XTERRA World Championship back in 1996. Still, for someone with stellar credentials like DeBoom (top three in Kona from 1999-2002 and a long list of other titles) expectations must be running high.
“My goals are pretty simple: enjoy these first couple races, finish them (no terrible injuries!) and then try to do as many as I can next year as well,” explained DeBoom. “I have no illusions of grandeur that I will come out and beat these guys that have focused on the series for so long. My swim and run will be fine, but I know the races are weighted toward the bike, so I have some work to do.”
In those years when DeBoom was the king of Kona in 2001 and 2002, an XTERRA rookie named Conrad Stoltz was the monarch of Maui – winning his first two XTERRA World Titles in the same years. In what amounts to a triathlon fantasy league type match-up, the endurance sports world will get to see these two legends go head-to-head in a few short weeks. While those two may be the highest profile names in the race, there are several other XTERRA standouts who could, and have, been on the top step before, and here’s a look at all the contenders…
Tentative XTERRA USA CHAMPIONSHIP men’s pro start list
Rank based on current standing in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series
NR = Not ranked in 2011 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series
Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
1 – Conrad Stoltz – 37, Stellenbosch, South Africa
2 – Josiah Middaugh – 32, Vail, Colorado
3 – Nicolas Lebrun -38, Digne, France
4 – Branden Rakita – 30, Manitou Springs, Colorado
5 – Seth Wealing – 32, Boulder, Colorado
6 – Craig Evans – 33, Hendersonville, Tennessee
7 – Cody Waite – 32, Lakewood, Colorado
8 – Dan Hugo – 25, Stellenbosch, South Africa
9 – Trevor Glavin – 31, San Diego, California
10 – Jason Michalak – 33, Lakewood, Colorado
11 – Adam Wirth – 33, Boise, Idaho
12 – Brad Zoller – 33, Avon, Colorado
13 – Patrick Valentine – 25, Colorado Springs, Colorado
14 – Brian Smith – 35, Gunnison, Colorado
15 – Matt Boobar – 38, Stratton Mountain, Vermont
16 – Shiloh Mielke – 31, Durango, Colorado
17 – Chris Stehula – 26, San Luis Obispo, California
18 – Will Ross – 22, Anchorage, Alaska
19 – Damian Gonzalez – 34, Stockton, California
24 – Jimmy Archer – Boulder, Colorado
25 – Will Kelsay – 29, Boulder, Colorado
NR – Ben Allen – 26, North Wollongong, Australia
NR – Tim DeBoom – 40, Boulder, Colorado
NR – Chris Ganter – 32, Boise, Idaho
NR – Michael Hiscott – 28, London, England
NR – Lewellyn Holmes -29, Bristol, England
NR – Matt Lieto – 33, Bend, Oregon