More than Just a Number – Juan Pablo Juares

This year, Juan Pablo Juares was the top athlete in the 45-49 age group in the XTERRA Pan Am Tour Standings. He won his age group at XTERRA Brazil and XTERRA Argentina and was runner up at XTERRA Chile. Given that Juares didn’t even own a mountain bike until two years ago, even he is surprised by his success.

This weekend, Juares is going to celebrate his year by competing in the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, where he is going for another spot on the podium. We caught up to this self-described “street triathlete” to learn more about his transition to off-road racing.

Q. How did you learn about XTERRA?
A. To be precise, in March 2015, a friend asked me to accompany him to Brazil to run a triathlon. I immediately said yes, but I did not know it was an XTERRA, even when he told me to buy a mountain bike. I just said yes and went. 

Q. How did you do in your first race? What did you think of the experience? 
A. As expected it was lousy. I had a very bad time, especially on the mountain bike.

That year I made two promises. The first was that I would return to Ilhabella for XTERRA Brazil in 2017. The second promise I made was that I would train to get on the podium in some XTERRA races on the Pan-American circuit in 2017.

Q. Tell us about 2017.
A. My first XTERRA of this year was XTERRA Argentina, where I did not expect to get on the podium because I had competed in this race the year before and it had not gone well. But as the mind is stronger than the body, to my surprise, I won my age group.  

The following week was XTERRA Chile, and I was very tired. But I was also very happy because I finished second in my age group and fulfilled one of my promises.

Q. What happened when you returned to XTERRA Brazil this year? 
A. I was very strategic and I prepared very well technically in the mountain bike, because I knew the route and knew that it was quite technical. Once I made the journey of the water, I looked forward to the mountain bike.

And so it was happening!

I only fell once, then on the trail run that is my forte, I ran with everything I had. I hoped to be able to get on the podium too, and once I crossed the finish, I shouted to my friends who were from Chile. To my biggest surprise, they told me that I had won my category, I really could not believe it. I was too happy, because with the second place in my home country Chile, and the first place in XTERRA Argentina and XTERRA Brazil, I was 1st in the ranking on the XTERRA Pan Am Tour. I found out last month, that after Utah, I was still the first in the ranking, so this year has been very good.

Q. Anything else you want to share?
A. I cannot forget to name my Chilean adventure friends who also also XTERRA Pan American Tour champions: Felipe de la Vega, Jose Tomas Larraín and Pilar Villalobos, who was second in her age group in the women’s ranking.

Thank you for letting me tell you my story, which I tell with my heart full of emotions and happiness.

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