XTERRA Planet’s ‘Kahuna Dave’ Nicholas
August 2, 2009 (Valle de Bravo, Mexico) – You’re in for another Kahuna report of a place you have to visit. Valle de Bravo sits about two hours drive from Mexico City on a huge reservoir, with green hills, mountains, hotels, villas and everything you could want in a perfect vacation spot. And now it has XTERRA Mexico.
The bike course is hilly but no long climbs, some road, some gravel, and some very nice single track. The kind of bike riding that had one of the pros saying, “It’s the kind of course that makes you smile.” The distance over two laps was just at 27-kilometers. The run is totally stunning, especially when you enter the woods and pop out with views of the valley and the lake.
The lake at Valle de Bravo was down about 50 feet because of a lack of rain. The original place for the swim was a virtual mud pit, so the organizers moved the swim down about 400 meters which made for a nice, long run from swim to transition.
Two of the very quick Mexican ITU guys came out of the water first, with Seth Wealing and Francisco “Paco” Serrano very close. Wealing ran down the two locals on the way to transition and quickly established himself in the lead. Serrano had problems putting on his shoes for the run to T1 and lost about 20 seconds (more on this later).
For the women, Shonny Vanlandingham got kicked pretty hard at the start and had to pull over, rest and do the backstroke for a bit to calm down and came out of the swim some three minutes behind the fast Mexican women, including Olympian Fabiola Corona. XTERRA’s newest rising star, Rebecca Dussault, had a solid swim and at the end of the first lap had a fine one-minute lead on Corona with Vanlandingham looking very serious and chasing hard.
For the men, Wealing was simply flying. He thinks it was the tortillas, we can’t verify that, but his lead at the end of the first lap was well over a minute. Serrano was second, Nico Lebrun third, and Sergio Sarmiento fourth. The entire bike was such fun, spectators lined the long fields (that were the lake six months ago) and the wonderful hills and could see the riders coming down at the end of the first lap and going out for almost one kilometer.
Wealing was in complete command coming into T2 with a few minutes lead, but it was now Lebrun in second, closely followed by Serrano (who represented Mexico at the Beijing Olympics). Serrano (pictured) has done very well in triathlon in Mexico and on the ITU tour and is a god here. There were posters and cards and he spent two hours on Saturday in the local Specialized store signing autographs. When Paco came by, the crowd went crazy. He is a very fast runner, but so are Wealing and Lebrun. We waited to see what might happen.
For the gals, Vanlandingham simply steamrolled the second lap and Corona described Shonny passing her as a “blue blur.” Dussault held Vanlandingham off for almost the entire lap, but the Texan/Coloradan/Hawaiian was not about to back away and she came into T2 with a slight lead. It came down to who could negotiate the run best.
Wealing came rolling in uncontested with just under two minutes in hand. Nico and Paco had a wonderful battle with Paco gaining and Nico responding. Remember that 20 seconds Paco lost with his shoes coming out of the water? He tried as hard as he could in the last half kilometer to catch the Frenchman, but the altitude (6,000-feet) got the better of him and he lost by 16 precious seconds.
A wonderful, sunny day. Temperature of the water was a beautiful 78 degrees, the air about the same. Perfect conditions for the event and perfect organization by Juan Carlos Vasquez and his men from Las Lomas. A wonderful start to hopefully a long series of events in Mexico.
This place is a complete winner. If you don’t come down next year and join what should be a bunch of Yanks and Europeans coming to enjoy a beautiful setting, wonderful people, tasty food and drink; shame on you. See you here next year.
1 Shonny Vanlandingham USA 2:28:28
2 Rebecca Dussault USA 2:28:52
3 Fabiola Corona MEX 2:36:40
4 Dunia Gomez MEX 2:44:32
5 Alexandra Borrelly FRA 2:49:06
1 Seth Wealing USA 2:06:10
2 Nicolas Lebrun FRA 2:08:00
3 Francisco Serrano MEX 2:08:16
4 Sergio Sarmiento MEX 2:19:51
5 Irving Perez MEX 2:27:11