Michael Weiss crossed the XTERRA World Championship finish line in 8th place on Sunday October 26th, just two weeks after completing the Ironman World Championships in Kona where he finished 16th in the world.
Weiss was Austria's only male professional athlete in both Championship events and was able to deliver solid, back-to-back performances in the sports toughest competitive field.
"At first I was frustrated and disappointed with an 8th place finish after my victory here in 2011 along with 2nd and 3rd finishes in the past," Michael admitted. "But then I considered my season as a whole and the consistency and improvements I was able to show along with valuable lessons learned for next year."
Weiss, at 33 years old, exited the 0.9 mile ocean swim in 21:59 minutes and came in 23rd in the transition area. The ocean conditions were extremely challenging on race morning with large waves and strong current.
"I was very happy with my swim on this day. I pushed myself hard and felt great coming out of the water," Michi recalls. "Although I became a bit disoriented in transition and couldn't find my bike immediately in the racks, I lost some valuable seconds with this 'rookie' mistake..."
Once on the mountain bike, Weiss was able to get back in the zone and worked his way back up in the field. He managed to ride from 23rd to 7th on the torturous 19 mile course and earned the fifth fastest bike split (1:32:25 hours). "The course certainly had it's slick and technical spots after some heavy rain earlier in the week, but in general it was a fantastic ride worthy of Xterra Worlds!"
The final trail run stretched 6.2 miles through jungle, sugar cane forests, and pineapple fields, with slippery muddy climbs and many fallen trees and obstacles to navigate. Weiss entered the very last run segment, a quarter mile on DT Flemming Beach, in 5th position.
It was in in this last sandy stretch that Michael's legs lost their speed and spirit. Xterra legend, Conrad Stoltz; Hawaiian-Double winner, Bart Aernouts; and Mexico's Mauricio Mendez all overtook Weiss within seconds in the deep terrain, leaving Michael to claim 8th for the day.
Remembering the effort on the beach, Michael said "I wanted to fight back more than anything as they came up on me, but the tank was completely empty, I had nothing left at that point."
After the Awards Ceremony for World Champion Ruben Ruzafa of Spain, Michael reflected, "two World Championship races in two weeks have brought many insights for my future races and I'm already looking forward to the next start line!"