Rediscovering Kenting - Two Years of XTERRA Taiwan

by Cygnus Swan on 10/30/2019

Racing two years in a row, I must say XTERRA Taiwan is a high-profile race that has shown me a different Kenting.

Image Source: Cygnus Swan

Little Bay, Mt. Menmaluo, Chihniuling and Shiniu Riverbed… The beauty and the stories of Kenting are really worth experiencing, and going for it.

- Swim -
Little Bay is truly beautiful. When you swim out there, you find the water so clear and so comfy even though you’re still near the shore. In the 2018 race, the waves were strong and we had to swim against and with the current. Sometimes there were side waves. It was challenging and exciting. 

Image Source: Cygnus Swan

- Mountain Bike -
I had zero experience in mountain biking. Before XTERRA, I had no idea what MTB was about and all I could do was watch some race videos on the Internet. And practice inside my head.
Luckily XTERRA Taiwan offered rental service so I booked in advance and got to practice a little bit after checking in at the event venue.
On race day, I found it difficult when confronting some of the uphill, so I walked the bike. It’s faster than constantly getting on and off. I didn’t dare dash down the hills so I got off and ran instead.
After two races, I could say I gained some experience. Knowing the postures, positions and how our arms should relax a little bit when riding downhills certainly helped a lot. Especially on Mt. Menmaluo and downhills on dirt trails. The racecourse in 2018 was difficult because of the typhoon that came several days before the race. The sandy land on Liangluan Riverbed and rolling stones were something one cannot forget.
My bike broke down midway, so I took the time resting in the river for a bit, then fixed the bike and hit the road. That has become one of my race stories.
In mountain-biking, you find yourself making some “walking buddies” who would share their bike-walking and riding experience after the race. It’s so much fun having these experiences and meeting these people.

- Trail Run -
Throughout the 11K course, there were mountain trails, dirt tracks, asphalt roads and wide riverbeds covered with pebbles and rolling stones. In 2018, there was water in the river so our shoes got wet, dried after a while and then wet again. That was fun! In 2019, the riverbed was dry, so it felt totally different. I could run faster, which was really exciting. What impressed all of us the most both in 2018 and 2019 was the Cingwashih coastal trail just before the finish area. It was astonishing (the view was incredible) and jaw-dropping (the trail was so long) to run on the marine erosion cliff, and the honeycomb rock. In short, I give this run course a 10 out of 10 because of its diverse landscape.

Image Source: Cygnus Swan

- Volunteers -
The event staff and volunteers before, during and after the race absolutely rocked it! Not only the numbers of them but also their excellent performance.
After we got out of the water, there was a 600-meter long red carpet with staffs handing over water and water scoops along the way. Staff members were stationed at the intersections and cross points. Signs and lines were clearly marked along the trails. Before entering T2, the staff would report your race number, and have your bike and transition bags ready for you. It was very efficient and thoughtful. What also impressed me was that as you approach the aid station, the volunteer would ask you if you want water or red bull, then direct you to go left or right. As soon as you got to the aid station, a full cup of drink was handed to you, you didn’t have to stop for the drink. There were so many details that deserved applause. The staffs in 2019, compared to 2018, had room for improvement though. But overall it was a really well organized event!

- Venue -
Most events, main stage, registration, race briefing, T1 and finish area, took place in Kengting Youth Activity Center. The traditional Minnan style buildings were a feast to the eyes. I stayed in Kenting Youth Activity Center for the two races. It’s very convenient to walk around.
The 2018 athlete’s dinner was before the race, so everyone was kind of reserved. But in 2019, the athlete’s dinner was also the awards ceremony, and the party moved to Caesar Park Hotel Kenting across the main venue. At the opening of the party, they really wowed us with the highlights of the race (that video was awesome!). Delicious BBQ, lively music and great emcees brought the party to life. I really enjoyed that night, it was remarkable!

Image Source: Cygnus Swan

- Other Events -
In 2018, I only raced the off-triathlon on Sunday, and I found myself longing for more. In 2019, the off-road triathlon was on Saturday, so it was perfect for a casual short distance trail run on Sunday (the run course was a little different). There were also push bike races for kids and family relay fun run. Everyone in the family was able to participate. What’s more, there were free yoga lessons at the Little Bay beach! All these made the event truly wonderful.

My first XTERRA race was a quick trip of 2D1N. My second XTERRA was more like going on a vacation and I spent a pleasant 4D3N. XTERRA Kenting has become a major event of the year that I’m looking forward to. It’s fascinating attending to such race and bringing my family along as a family trip. Kenting Street that I grew to know very well, the nature setting of Little Bay, the Lover Beach, the beautiful blue sky, the gorgeous turquoise sea, and sunset at the beach… all are amazing for families to share the good time with. I look forward to seeing XTERRA thrive in Taiwan. 2020, the adventure goes on!

Image Source: Cygnus Swan