Caveman Stoltz wins 8th annual XTERRA Japan Championship title
Posted Aug 27 2011 4:08pm
August 27, 2011 (Kan Ko So Resort - Marunuma - Gunma Prefecture) - Four-time XTERRA World Champ Conrad Stoltz from South Africa and Saipan multisport sensation Mieko Carey captured the eighth annual XTERRA Japan Championship titles on a mystic afternoon in the Nikko National Forest in Marunuma, Japan.
While the XTERRA motto is “Mother Nature is your toughest competitor,” perhaps nowhere on the planet is earth and nature so much a part of the experience than in the mountains of Marunuma.
American Will Kelsay, in the fifth week of a six-week, six-country around-the-world XTERRA adventure, took this advice to heart by literally hurling his body into the earth on numerous occasions with three big crashes on the bike to his credit. The reckless abandon served him well and nearly earned him the upset of the decade against four-time XTERRA World Champion Conrad Stoltz.
“Will was chasing hard, and was close behind me and if he didn’t crash so many times it would’ve been a lot closer,” said Stoltz, whose winning time was 2:18:25, a little more than a minute ahead of Kelsay. “This is Will’s course for sure. He is a really skilled rider, completely fearless, and he raced really well. He was just 30 or 40-seconds behind me off the bike and I thought he was going to catch me today because this run course is like a jungle gym and we all know Will is like a monkey.”
The high-praise coming from the sports’ biggest star was spot on as it was exactly those monkey-like characteristics that had Kelsay so close to the champ in the final moments of this epic adventure.
“I felt like a kid playing in the woods, jumping over stuff, ducking under logs, swinging over things, hoping off rocks. It was fantastic, I loved it,” said an exuberant Kelsay after the race, explaining how he could pick a line and use his hands to grab branches and rocks to navigate though sections on the run.
“Everybody who races XTERRA has to come do this race. It is absolutely amazing, like nothing I’ve ever done,” said Kelsay. “Seriously, it is so awesome. I was crashing all the time and muddy. It was super challenging and hard, but fun the whole time. Even when I was climbing up the ropes on the run it was painful, but still fun.”
Tomorrow, Sunday, XTERRA Japan continues with a grueling 30-kilometer and an adventurous 10K trail run, along with a kids’ triathlon.
Many traveled from far to experience this event, including an American soldier who journeyed 25-hours from the north by bus and train, and one-and-all came away with rejuvenated spirits and stories to tell for the rest of their lives.
Japan is thriving, resilient, and exceptional in so many ways. XTERRA Japan, led by a legend in Taro Shirato and supported by an army of hard-working staff, volunteers, and site managers, is a destination race that should most certainly make the bucket list of anyone looking to experience a spiritual, magical forest and community in the old country of Japan.
Top 5 Men
1 Conrad Stoltz RSA 2:18:25 2 Will Kelsay USA 2:19:41 3 Takahiro Ogasawara JPN 2:27:43 4 Michael Hiscott GBR 2:29:51 5 Paul Davies GBR 2:49:47