Renata Bucher captured her 5th straight XTERRA Saipan Championship yesterday, her 3rd win in 4 races this season. In doing so, she beat Julie Dibens, the 2-time defending XTERRA World Champion, and Shonny Vanlandingham, who finished 3rd in Maui last year, 17 seconds in front of Renata.
It was a very strong performance for Renata, as she continues to show herself as factor to be considered in Maui come October. She is the only female to beat Julie Dibens anytime in the last 3 years in XTERRA, with victories in 2007, 2008 and now 2009. Julie had defeated her 2 weeks prior to Saipan, at XTERRA Guam.
After her victory at the SuperFrog Half in San Diego, we knew she would probably be too tired to beat Julie at the race in Guam, since there was only 5 days between them, (4 with crossing the International Date Line). We discussed all the options and felt a victory at SuperFrog would be better financially for her, when compared to the money available at XTERRA Guam. There was still 2 weeks between Guam and Saipan, giving her enough time to recover, still put in some quality training, and get the win against the tough field at Saipan, with the much bigger prize purse. This is the decision we made, and it played out just as we planned it.
Most athletes want to win every race, and Renata is no exception to that rule. Getting second was a tough pill for her to swallow in Guam, but she stuck to the plan, and it paid off. She trusted in the science and approach we took, and it came through for her.
Athletes need to see the bigger picture sometimes, and not get caught up in the smaller, C-priority races. Focus on the races which matter most, since those are what you truly evaluate your success and season on.
All photos courtesy of Nils Nelson