Triathlete Lara Buttigieg represents Malta at Xterra World Championships
Lara Buttigieg’s participation in the 2016 Xterra World Championships saw her travel from one small island in the Mediterranean to the larger island of Maui in Hawaii.
Appropriately known as the Aloha state,Maui welcomed over 800 athletes from all over the world forXterra, the world’s foremost off-road triathlon. Combining a 1.5km swim, a 32km mountain bike offroad track that sees athletes climb 3,500 feet up and down the lower slopes of the West Maui Mountains and a 10.5km trail run traversing forest trails and beach sand.
Malta’s own Lara Buttigieg (Agones SFC) was on the starting line of the Xterra World Championships, having qualified to take part following her performance in the recently held Xterra Italy. On race day, Buttigieg had to contend with3 metre waves, a muddy off-road cycling route and a very steep run.
The huge waves and strong currents were a stark contrast to the sea conditions athletes are normally used to in Malta. Describing the swim similar to being in a washing machine, Buttigieg and the rest of the swimmers found themselves being carried under the massive waves. Buttigieg fared well in this segment coming out of the water fourth in her category.
Whilst Buttigieg sharpened her off-road cycling skills in preparation for this race, the muddy terrain, a result of thirty-six hours of incessant rain, saw her inexperience make her lose precious time. Buttigieg had to, frequently pause her progress to walk with the bike as well as stop to remove the mud that was blocking her wheels. Some time was gained in the downhill part of this segment, which saw Buttigieg dash through the winding downhills.
Keeping a strong focus on the 10.5km run, half of which was through hilly terrain, Buttigieg made the most of the 5km downhill part resulting in herflying to the finish line to complete the race in respectable seventh place.
“This race was certainly something out of my comfort zone and some segments came a bit of a shock to me, however I kept my focus throughout and though finished 7th in a pool of 10 athletes. I am certainly proud to have been through this experience and can say that I raced like never before, “enthused Buttigieg after the race. “Racing and meeting up with competitors from around the globe as well as attending some very interesting clinics by Xterra were also a highlight of this trip”.
Buttigieg who trains with the Elite Sports Triathlon Training team managed by Danica Bonello Spiteri, expressed her gratitude towards Bonello Spiteri for her coaching advice, club Agones SFC as well as Niumee Clinics and Joseph Buttigieg who assisted Buttigieg in her preparation for these Championships as well as the Malta Triathlon Federation for the support given.