Ben Allen, XTERRA triathlete
When the dark waters you plunge into may be home to piranhas, it tends to heighten your desire to complete the swimming challenge as fast as you can.
That’s how extreme athlete Ben Allen started his XTERRA triathlon in Brazil’s Amazon region last year. The course also included a running trail through the rainforest that had to be guarded by game wardens. This native of Australia clearly loved the adventure, though: he was first across the finishing line.
While the “normal” triathlon puts its participants through their paces swimming calmer waters and cycling and running on asphalt roads, the XTERRA event is built around whitewater rivers, mountain biking and trails through the bush, and takes its competitors to some of the most exciting locations that Nature has to offer. The 1.5-kilometre swim, 30-kilometre cycle and 10-kilometre run, all under sometimes extreme conditions, make great demands not only on the athletes but also on their equipment. And, as Ben Allen’s success confirms, the running shoes produced by young Swiss company On are more than equal to the task, not only on asphalt but in off-road terrain, too. Allen, who is 27, has been wearing the Cloudracer – the competition model in the On running- shoe range – for several months now. And, since he started doing so, he’s been more successful than ever. Having finished first in the XTERRA World Tour events on Guam, in the Philippines, in Saipan and in New Zealand, he has just been named XTERRA Asian Triple Crown Champion. With its radically new construction, the On shoe features a sole that combines a gentle landing of the foot with an explosive push-off, permitting highly efficient running in even inhospitable terrain. “No other running shoe gives me the light and natural speed and stability that I get from the On,” Ben Allen confirms. “Even on asphalt, the On provides the kind of soft and gentle feeling that I usually associate with off-road trails.” It’s one reason, no doubt, that this outstanding triathlete recently secured his first asphalt success, coming third in Mallorca’s Ironman 70.3. He’s already set his sights on a further goal, too: the 2016 Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro.
My On shoes provide perfect support in every terrain. Even offroad I can feel the cushioned landing and the powerful takeoff. My Ons look and feel great. No other running shoe gives me the light and natural speed and stability that I get from the On.
Ben Allen grew up by the sea in Australia, and had already won numerous medals for open- water surf swimming and surf lifesaving by his teenage years. At the age of 20 he was selected for the Australian national triathlon team, and began to gain his first major experience of ITU competitions from 2005 onwards. The ‘Nature’ dimension always remained a top priority for him, though. “It’s just more fun to be jumping over roots, rocks and streams in the forest rather than plodding along the asphalt,” he explains. “I learnt to master all the technical challenges that the courses throw up in my younger years as a surf lifesaver and an ITU competitor,” he continues. He still spends some time surfing in his native Australia, which he tends to return to for the (northern) winter. From April to October, though, he’s based in France and Switzerland, to compete with the rest of the world’s best in various endurance events.