XTERRA Belgium, which celebrates its fourth year on June 8 in Namur, is highly regarded as one of the “must-do” races on the XTERRA World Tour.
Organizers Denis Detinne and Florian Badoux are XTERRA racers themselves, and put a lot of thought and effort into the idea of XTERRA Belgium before committing to host the first event in 2016, and have watched it grow into a huge race, followed by an ever bigger after-party.
Detinne said they chose Namur because “the location is just beautiful to organize such an event. The athletes ride around the Citadel of Namur which is an historical site from the 17th century. Namur is also the capital of Wallonia and has a large offer of hotels, restaurants, shops, museums… and last but not least we live there so we know all the tracks of the region.”
To tell us more about the place, the race, and the atmosphere we turn to Francois Carloni, the reigning XTERRA European Tour Champion who won last year’s race in Namur…
XTERRA Belgium, the first race in the Benelux challenge (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) is almost sold out! So, after reading this article you should open a new internet tab and enter!
A city full of culture and history, Namur is in the Walloon region of Belgium. The Citadel which hosts the race overlooks the whole town. Everybody wants to take part in this race, Belgium has a certain vibe to it that is difficult to explain to those who haven’t been there. Belgium loves sport and cycling; the City of Namur plays host to a world cup cyclocross race and has been a focal point for prestigious one day races. XTERRA Belgium has an atmosphere that is like no other race in the world.
Central Europeans will find it easiest to drive to the race venue, whilst those from further afield can choose from Brussels and Charleroi airports which are just a short train ride away from Namur. The city has plentiful accommodation options from camping to 5* hotels all within close proximity of the Citadel, ominously looking over the region from on top of the hill – you won’t miss it!
Unique to the European tour, Belgium has a split transition. T1 is located at the bottom of the hill next to the river where the swim takes place in the river Meuse. A deep-water start followed by a single loop around a large island in the middle of the river. The first half of the swim is against the current, the quickest route will be against the banks where the flow of the river is slowest – but there will be a lot of people with the same idea! The second half of the swim is with the current so head to the centre of the river to take advantage of the fastest moving water, just don’t miss the swim exit!
T1 is located on the riverbank, where you will grab your bike cross the river and ride up the Citadel climb to briefly visit T2 before heading off into the forest to complete two laps.
You might think Belgium is flat, but you are very wrong! The bike undulates constantly, but the individual climbs are never that long in duration. Race director Florian Badoux has reduced the overall distance to 35km and reduced a few tough sections to make it a more accessible race for first time XTERRA athletes. Despite these changes the course still requires some serious effort to get around fast. Each lap finishes with a technical downhill on the slopes of the Citadel, passing close to the main race venue which guarantees some noisy spectators! Overall this race isn’t too technical, but with some rain it could get slippery, so perhaps pack a mud tire just in case. Save something for the iconic steps descending into T2 on the final lap. These can be ridden with some practice and some peer pressure from hundreds of cheering Belgium spectators!
The run loop takes place around the Citadel grounds, a 2 lap 10km course has everything an XTERRA course could have. Lots of off-road climbs and descents, cobbles, steps, and flowing single track keep you on your toes for the whole run. There are some amazing views over the city of Namur so even when you are hurting you can distract yourself for a few seconds. It’s important to save some energy for this final leg, the numerous changes in effort and speed can induce cramp fairly quickly. If it is dry the course can be run in a flat racing shoe but given the unpredictable weather we’d suggest preparing for all conditions.
Once the race has finished, the party starts! Belgium’s ethos is ‘sport meets party’ and there is no better place to celebrate or commiserate than on the Saturday night. It really is worth booking an extra night to enjoy the awards ceremony properly.
François’ favourite Organicoach inspired sessions to prepare for XTERRA Belgium.
20mins steady riding
10 x [2mins @ Race pace effort / 30secs @ above Race pace]
Take 60secs easy pedalling recovery between efforts
Adapt this session to your ability by reducing/adding the number of efforts
15mins steady riding
15mins steady running
10-15 x [30secs maximal effort / 30secs rest]
Alternate each rep between the flat, a hill and a downhill to simulate the constant changes in terrain at Belgium.
10mins steady running
Get ready for Belgium, you’ll never forget it!Triathlon European Tour Europe Source | Back to News