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Former world champ Ruben Ruzafa from Spain returns to XTERRA for another world title in Maui

In 90-degree heat, the 18th XTERRA World Championship got underway on Saturday in Maui, Hawaii, with more than 800 athletes taking on the 1mile swim, 20mile mountain bike and 10km run.

Ruben Ruzafa from Spain made a triumphant return to the top of the XTERRA World Championship podium after completing the course in 2 hours, 34 minutes, 34 seconds, securing the title and $20,000 prize money.

Ruzafa rallies to take men’s title

Some people like to visit the island of Maui every five years or so to enjoy the sun and sand of a Hawaiian island. Ruben Ruzafa likes to visit Maui every five years to win the XTERRA World Championship.

Ruzafa, who is 29 and resides in Malaga, Spain, won the 2013 XTERRA World Championship for the second time in his career on a hot Saturday afternoon. Ruzafa won the XTERRA Worlds in 2008, got injured a few days before the 2009 race, then spent the next few years focusing on mountain bike races.

“We knew that it was a really hot day,” Ruzafa said. “I drink a lot (of water). I drink three bottles on the bike so I can make it to the run relatively fresh. I pushed hard and I’m very, very happy.”

Ruzafa trailed the leaders by around two minutes after the swim, but he more than made up for it with an astonishing bike ride. He finished with a bike split of 1:30:11, which was the fastest of the day by more than a minute. He eventually reeled in all the leaders on the bike, and had a lead of about 45 seconds entering the run.

“I was really surprised,” Ruzafa said of his ability to pass the other pros on the bike.

Nobody got close to Ruzafa on the run, and he eventually finished 1 minute, 27 seconds, ahead of the rest of the field.

“Two (XTERRA) championships is really, really good for me,” he said. “It’s a dream.”

Runner-up Asa Shaw from France (via England), also described his best XTERRA showing as “a dream.”

If Ruzafa had the bike ride of the day, Shaw pulled off the run of the day. He passed four fellow pros on the run to capture second place.

“I didn’t really know where I was,” Shaw said of his position in the pack. “I was just pushing as much as I could to catch anyone in front of me.”

He finished with a time of 2:36:01, including the fastest run split of the day at 39:24. Shaw, 29, holds professional status on the XTERRA circuit, but he also works full-time as a carpenter in Saint-Raphael, France.

“When I go to work every day, I see professional athletes who train every day,” he said. “For me to be able to do a podium (finish) today is enormous.”

Keeping with the dream theme, Ben Allen from Australia also described his career-best third-place finish as such. He placed 35th last year after experiencing mechanical problems with his bike.

“I sort of had disappointment in the back of my mind, and I used that as motivation to really dig deep,” said Allen, 28. “I’ve worked so hard over the past two years, and to finish on the podium against a quality field is amazing.”

Allen was one of the leaders out of the swim, and stayed in the top three for most of the bike and run legs. He was in second after the bike before Shaw passed him midway through the run course.

“To ride with (Ruzafa), I had to ride like a madman,” Allen said. “I think I was the loosest guy out there on the corners, and just taking as many risks as possible to stay with Ruben, who’s a phenomenal rider.”

Allen finished in 2:36:24, just 23 second behind Shaw.

Josiah Middaugh from Colorado placed fourth overall and was the top American finisher for the third year in a row and sixth time in his career. His time of 2:37:44, included a 1:34:36 bike split, which was second only to Ruzafa.

“I’m happy with the effort I put into it, but I was a little too far behind out of the water,” he said. “I was about a minute, 30 (seconds) to the lead after the bike, and that’s usually a pretty good position, but it’s really hard to make up that much time on the run when you’re not feeling fresh and I put a lot into the bike trying to catch guys.”

Braden Currie from New Zealand placed fifth (2:39:05) for his best showing at XTERRA Worlds, and four-time former world champ Conrad Stoltz from South Africa was sixth (2:39:31).

Nicolas Lebrun from France placed seventh overall in his farewell to the XTERRA World Championship as a pro. The 2005 world champion is retiring from professional competition to focus on coaching, and he was inducted into the XTERRA Hall of Fame the night before the race.

“My dream was to be close to the top five, and today it happened,” he said. “I wanted to finish my career with a good race, a top 10. I didn’t want to struggle at the end. I wanted to enjoy the race –make it both a good race and a spiritual race, and that’s exactly what it was.”

Rounding out the top 10 were Marvin Gruget from France in eighth (2:40:57), Leonardo Chacon from Costa Rica in ninth (2:42:08) and Brice Daubord from France in 10th (2:43:00). Chacon was near the lead for the first half of the race, but appeared to succumb to the conditions late in the bike and the run.

2013 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP PRO MEN RESULTS

Pl Name Age Hometown Final Time Purse
1 Ruben Ruzafa 29 Malaga, Spain 2:34:34 $20,000
2 Asa Shaw 29 Frejus, France 2:36:01 $12,000
3 Ben Allen 28 North Wollongong, Australia 2:36:24 $7,000
4 Josiah Middaugh 35 Vail, Colorado 2:37:44 $4,000
5 Braden Currie 27 Wanaka, New Zealand 2:39:05 $2,500
6 Conrad Stoltz 40 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:39:31 $1,500
7 Nicolas Lebrun 40 Digne-les-Bains, France 2:40:57 $1,000
8 Marvin Gruget 21 Beaumes de Venise, France 2:42:03 $800
9 Leonardo Chacon 29 Liberia, Costa Rica 2:42:08 $600
10 Brice Daubord 28 Orleans, France 2:43:00 $500