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Barahona, Dominican Republic – Costa Rica’s Rom Akerson, and Pan Am Tour women’s leader Suzie Snyder (USA) took the wins today at the inaugural XTERRA Dominican Republic.  In the process, they introduced a brand new adventure destination at Casa Bonita in the beachside town of Barahona and an epic race course three hours southeast of Santo Domingo.

As the sun rose over the ocean this morning, it revealed intimidating surf (which local surfers were taking full advantage of), along with a wicked shore break onto a rocky beach.  When the gun went off for the elites they encountered strong cross currents, and huge sets that some estimated were ten to fifteen feet from top to bottom.  After two laps of a 750-meter course with no beach run between due to the shore break, Puerto Rico’s Fabian Roman was first out leading a group that included Akerson, 16-year-old local DR elite Kevin Martinez, and American Branden Rakita.  Reigning world champion, Josiah Middaugh, was only steps behind in 5th.

Leaving transition for two laps of a gnarly 15.5k with 562m of elevation gain and loose, rocky downhills likened to Maui’s famous “Plunge”.  Middaugh took the lead early on the bike – was first to a closed gate which he opened for the rest of the field.  At the river crossing right before transition and the start of the second lap, Josiah had a minute and a half lead over Akerson with Rakita in 3rd about 2 mins behind Akerson.  The young kiwi, Kieran McPherson, trailed in 4th with American Ryan Ignatz in his first race back after a bad crash in June, in 5th.

In the women’s race, it was Suzie Snyder’s day.  She led from start to finish – and her finish was strong enough for 5th place overall.

“This win means a lot,” she said.  Snyder broke her pelvis a year ago, and has had a long recovery.  “Thinking back to the beginning of the season when I didn’t know if I’d be able to race the series, or what races I’d be able to do, and at what level.  I didn’t think I could be winning races this year.  I trained really hard swimming and biking over the winter when I couldn’t run.  Here it helped going into the run knowing I had a really strong swim and bike, but I ran hard regardless.”

Finishing second, nine and a half minutes behind Snyder, was France’s and Team CHIRU-MAGURA Myriam Guillot-Boisset.

“Kara (LaPoint) and I worked together on the bike although she knew I would be faster in the run. We made a gap on the other girls, but I couldn’t stay with her and she dropped me.  But then I caught her at transition and we left together on the run.  I knew Suzie was very far in front, so I didn’t really push hard, I just went for a good run,” said Guillot-Boisset, who finished 2-1/2 minutes ahead of LaPoint in 3rd.

Akira Mimasu