The International Triathlon Union (ITU) has selected TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA to produce the 2012 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama, on 19 May 2012.
“The triathlon and multisport family is extensive and far reaching and ITU is delighted to form a partnership with XTERRA for our 2012 Cross Triathlon World Championships,” said Marisol Casado, ITU President & IOC Member. “We are confident the strong race organisation and dynamic course will continue to push Cross Triathlon to a new level.”
XTERRA joins other high profile race organisations in cooperating with ITU. Last month, Ironman brand owner World Triathlon Corp (WTC) opened up the possibility of collaboration with ITU. Meanwhile in May 2011, Star Production SARL, the company behind the fast growing TriStar series signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ITU. This helped to integrate TriStar distances (222K, 111K, 55.5K, 33.3K and 11.1K) into ITU official regulations.
Founded in April 1989, ITU has gone from strength to strength and has since grown to include over 120 affiliated National Federations around the world.
Gettting off-road in the US
2012 is the first time the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships event will be held in the United States. ITU hosted the inaugural Cross Tri World Championships last year in Extremadura, Spain, where four-time XTERRA World Champion Conrad Stoltz from South Africa and three-time XTERRA World Champion Melanie McQuaid from Canada won the elite titles.
The ITU Cross Tri World Championships will be held in conjunction with the seventh-annual XTERRA Southeast Championship race with local support from Shelby County, City of Pelham, City of Hoover, Oak Mountain State Park and the Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers (BUMP).
“Oak Mountain State Park is amazing, and I know I speak for all of us when I say we love racing there,” said Stoltz, who has won the last five Southeast Championship races. “It’s a true XTERRA course with a nice warm water swim in a beautiful lake, a real mountain biker’s course with climbing, technical sections, and fun corners, and a tough but scenic run.”
The event will feature US$20,000 in prize money for elite athletes, who will compete over a 1.5K swim, 30K mountain bike and 10K trail run. Under-23, junior, age-group and paratriathlon races will also be contested in Pelham.
“We are excited about bringing the ITU Cross Tri World Championships to the US,” said XTERRA Managing Director Dave Nicholas, who served as the Team USA Manager at the ITU Championships in Spain last year.
“By combining the XTERRA series with ITU we are reaching new heights in cooperation between directors and the federations, and the venue at Oak Mountain and Shelby County are perfect for this event.”
Oak Mountain State Park was honoured as one of America’s best trail destinations in the Spring 2011 edition of Runner’s World Magazine, where the twisting, rolling trails made the ‘Crown Jewels – 25 best trail runs in America’ list. BUMP, the local trails advocacy group, has spent more than 100,000 hours in design and construction of new trails over the past 20 years.
“Outdoor sports enthusiasts from around the world have discovered that Shelby County’s Oak Mountain State Park provides unparalleled resources,” said Alex Dudchock, Shelby County Manager. “Our collaborations with the State of Alabama, City of Pelham, City of Hoover, Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers and other organisations have made extensive improvements possible to the already top-rated course, creating a destination for the serious competitor or for those discovering the thrills of outdoor sports.”
XTERRA competitors have been praising the trails at Oak Mountain since the first XTERRA was staged there in 2006. Shonny Vanlandingham, the 2010 XTERRA World Champion, said “I’ve raced all over the world, and I just love coming back to Oak Mountain every year. It is perhaps the best course in the nation.”
“We are pleased to create this regional cooperation and look forward to welcoming athletes from around the world to compete in this prestigious event,” added Hoover Mayor Gary Ivey.
The unique format for the 2012 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships also provides a spectator friendly competition for the men’s and women’s pro-only races featuring multiple loops on the bike and run courses that will pass through the main athlete village and around scenic Double Oak Lake. The under-23, junior, age-group and paratriathlon race courses will be staged on more traditional single-loop short and long courses to allow for the larger fields.
Open to everyone
In addition to the ITU Cross Tri World Championship races, XTERRA will also host open sprint and championship distance off-road triathlons for those that do not qualify. Plus, in addition to the triathlons on Saturday 19 May, XTERRA will host 5K and 10K mud runs as well as half-and-full trail marathon races that will twist and turn through the park’s single track trails on Sunday, 20 May.
To complement the races, Oak Mountain offers a wealth of family activities (wildlife center, swimming beach, fishing, horseback riding, golfing, boat rental, etc.) while there are plenty of lodging, eating and shopping opportunities right outside the park.