Hot and cold

From snow to desert, Courtney Atkinson puts his body to the extreme
Courtney in training © Brett Hemmings / Red Bull Content Pool
By Josh Rakic

In preparations for the Xterra World Championships in Maui next month, triathlete and adventure racer Courtney Atkinson has put his body through hell and back - almost literally, from the brutal heat of Alice Springs to the face-numbing cold of Perisher.

In fact, since having turned his focus to off-road and adventure racing, the former Olympian has never been so busy, with a whole slew of events over the summer on his schedule.

We caught up with him this week in Tokyo, where he was set to contest the Hokkaido leg of the the Asia Pacific XTerra off-road triathlon series...

RB: Bad news, you’re back on a plane before you even pulled on your sneakers?

CA: Yeah, I’m in Tokyo right now. I was meant to be racing this weekend in Hokkaido but they got hit with a big typhoon yesterday and the race site is flooded and inaccessible so I’m flying back home. But it’s just the start of a busy season for me. I’ve got the Xterra World Champs in Maui in October, then the World Off-road Triathlon Champs in the Snowy Mountains in November to name just a few. I can't stay still for too long. I’m already thinking of a new trip now that this trip has been cut short.

And you’re adding a new string to your bow as it were...

Yeah, I’m adding kayaking to my racing and will have my first crack at the World Multi-Sport Championships in New Zealand’s Coast to Coast adventure race. And I’ll also be competing in my first Red Bull Defiance race in Wanaka, also utilizing the kayak. I’m still putting plans into plans but I’ve got some Olympians and world champs from the water ready to help me get up to speed in the boat!

Among a heap of events you’ve contested over the winter, the most daunting must have been the Redback in Alice Springs…

It’s one of those events I've seen pics of for a few years and just had to experience. There are stages over four days of cross-country mountain bike racing. And even as an Aussie, Alice is nothing like I'd expected. There are such cool rocky mountains and an epic landscape. They’ve made hundreds of kilometres of handbuilt MTB tracks through the rocky landscape that has to be ridden to be believed. That's not including all the hiking tracks like the Larapinta Trail.

It was a great kickstart to the training for my major races at end of the year. Five or six of the country's best marathon cross-country racers were there and I was just gritting my teeth and brushing up on my skills trying to hang on each day. Only had one decent spill!

You’ve barely had a day off from events this winter…

I think I've been home on Gold Coast for three or four days in the past month! If it’s not racing, it’s been @awolfamily trips through the Blue Mountains and down onto the snow at Perisher. Did the City 2 Surf (see his experience here) and Bridge to Brisbane. All these events are part of my pre-season build-up to the multiple world championship events from October through February. I’ve been competing in individual running and mountain races because I think it’s the best way to improve the specifics for when I put it all together in the multisport races.

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