The Xterra Is Dead, Long Live The Xterra!

By Scott 12/10/2015

The term "Xterra" is a word that most people would associate with a plastic clad 4x4 SUV that peaked in popularity around the same time as Britney Spears. The early 2000s saw a barrage of commercials geared towards people that like to boogie board down rapids, snowboard down sand dunes, and skateboard down mountains. Unfortunately Nissan will no longer produce the Xterra SUV in 2016, but the name lives on where it began, in triathlon.

The series began in 1996 in Maui, originally called "Aquaterra." before settling on the Xterra name. By 1998, Nissan came on board as a title sponsor and by the next year the Xterra SUV was born, with many an epic outdoor themed commercial to follow. Like the subjects of the commercials, the race participants did not do things according to the norm. The race consists of the same three stages seen in any triathlon; swim, bike, and run. The swim is open water, as is typical for most triathlons, but the bike and run are done off-road on various trails instead of on paved roads. Also called "cross triathlon" or simply off road triathlon, the Xterra series was not the first to run such an event, but its popularity is what brought it more towards mainstream. Along with the trail running series promoted by the same promoters, Xterra events now span the globe, culminating in a world championship even held in Maui every fall. Since 2011 the ITU (International Triathlon Union) also holds a cross triathlon world championship event every year in varying locations.

Cross triathlon is great way to mix things up for triathlon veterans to mix things up and try something new. It's also an easy transition for mountain bikers to get started in triathlon, or just something fun an interesting for any athlete or aspiring one to take on. With the technical challenge of open water swimming, mountain biking and trail running, it's a sport that can challenge all sorts of athletes.