SAIPAN, CNMI – The disappointing finish in the 2015 XTERRA Saipan Championship here will only challenge Filipino Joe Miller from improving his performance and doing a better job in the world championship to be held in Maui, Hawaii this November.
No thanks to a pair of tires with tubes, the former mountain bike racer placed sixth in the Crown Jewel of the Global XTERRA Circuit, topped by Australian Ben Allen a week ago.
But Miller said he’s more determined than ever to prove his worth as he also plans to make XTERRA stops in Guam (April 12), in New South Wales, Australia (April 18 to 19), and Malaysia from May 1 to 3 in Langkawi.
“I want to complete the Asia-Pacific Tour since this XTERRA circuit will also be part of my preparation for the finals in Maui, Hawaii. I’ll first return to the Philippines on April 12 before heading to Australia,” Miller said.
Miller, a two-time XTERRA Philippines Filipino Elite champion, completed the 1.5-kilometer swim at Micro Beach, 40K bike ride around the steep hills of Mt. Tapochao, and 10K run through the rugged jungle trails in three hours, 22 minutes, and 33 seconds.
He submitted times of 22:10 in the swim category, 1:37:46 in the bike event, and 1:01:12 in the run leg to finish sixth overall.
Miller was 22 minutes and 08 seconds behind Allen, who claimed his fourth XTERRA Saipan crown with the fastest time of 2:40:25.
The Filipino triathlete said he was supposed to use tubeless tires but decided to change at the last minute, thinking it would give him more traction on the trail bike leg after testing the course two days before the event.
A heavy downpour bridging late Friday night and early Saturday morning changed the layout of the course, making the bike and trail run legs muddy and slippery.
“I was a bit disappointed with my performance. I kept on slipping on the trail since my tires have tubes in it. I was targeting fourth, but still managed to finish against a strong field of competitors where some I’m not that familiar with,” said Miller.
He said XTERRA Saipan is not like the XTERRA Philippine course.
“In Albay, it was sandy and rocky but not that sharp. Saipan has a rocky terrain and the rocks here are sharp, increasing your chance to encounter mechanical problems so you have to really be careful.”
“It was really a challenging course. I’m a strong mountain biker but had difficulty navigating the course because of the mud and heavy rain,” added the first-year pro.
“Still, I completed the race with no flat or other problems with my bike, and no injury in my first try here on Saipan,” said Miller, who experienced two flat tires in last month’s XTERRA Philippines to finish in sixth (3:10:48).
The Filipino admitted he’ll focus more in improving his swimming and running since he already has the skills in mountain biking.
“XTERRA’s course is a perfect fit for me. I used to race against Philippine national team members in various Mt. bike races but coach Noy Jopson encouraged me to try triathlon.”
Miller said he’ll be back next year after falling in love with the XTERRA Saipan course.
“I didn’t know that there were a lot of Filipinos here. I’m going to be back next year and will bring other Filipino triathletes.”