Kiwis lead XTERRA Pan America tour are 7 of 10 races
Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford held on to the top spots in the 2019 XTERRA Pan American Tour standings after the seventh of 10 races.
Middaugh, Snyder win XTERRA Beaver Creek
Josiah Middaugh from Eagle-Vail, Colorado and Suzie Snyder from Reno, Nevada won the 11th annual XTERRA Beaver Creek off-road triathlon elite titles on a picture-perfect blue-sky day at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colorado on Saturday, July 20, 2019.
It’s the second win in seven days for Middaugh, who was victorious at XTERRA Quebec last weekend. It’s also his seventh win in nine years on his home course and the 36th major victory in his illustrious 20-year XTERRA career. For Snyder, the win is her second in three races this season and her 14th elite win since capturing the XTERRA New Zealand crown in 2015.
In the men’s race Brad Zoller and Braden Rakita set the pace early by posting times of 18:45, 18:46, with Sam Osborne right behind in 18:48 for the 1.5-kilometer, two-loop swim in the 67-degree waters of Nottingham Lake. Karsten Madsen, Middaugh, Mike Meehan, and Elliot Bach followed roughly one-minute, 20-seconds later and the race up the mountain was on.
XTERRA Beaver Creek boasts the highest elevation of any major on the XTERRA World Tour. It starts at 7,400-feet then climbs 3,000+ feet up into the thin air of the Rockies on the bike, topping out at 9,400-feet.
“It’s a different kind of swim because of the altitude, so the elite pack paces themselves a little bit more than usual here,” said Middaugh. “Usually I blow up and have a horrible swim, but I had a really good day and was able to swim next to Karsten the whole way.”
Once on the bike Osborne and Rakita pulled away from Zoller, but the two didn’t keep the lead long as Middaugh pedaled past Madsen, then Zoller, and reeled them in about three miles into the first big climb.
“I was fourth out of the water but with a bunch of guys. Karsten beat us out of transition, but I got by him early on the bike, and then Mike was behind me riding my wheel for a while,” said Middaugh. “I caught Sam and Branden about three miles into the bike, just by riding that climb how I always ride that climb, which is as hard as I possibly can.”
Middaugh, just as he’s done throughout his career, went full throttle the entire way and posted the fastest bike split in 1:11:30, more than two-minutes faster than the second-best time put up by Meehan.
“It felt good to catch Sam and Branden before the top of the first climb, but then other thoughts started creeping in” explained Middaugh. “I thought, ‘I’m riding a hardtail and what if I flat?’ And then I thought, ‘Well, I better get two more minutes on them so I can fix it and still be in the race.’ So I just pushed it. And where I make most of my time is, it’s kind of a secret, is the village-to-village trail. That’s where I push as hard as I can on the false flats and pull back lots of time on people. Today, I was putting time in there.”
The hometown hero took a big lead heading out on to the run and cruised into the finish line with his daughter Larsen and a family friend’s son, Landen, with a winning time of 2:09:26, more than two-minutes ahead of Osborne in 2:12:07. It was a big win for Middaugh, who was doing his third race in 20 days and had a schedule jam-packed with work, travel, media obligations, and real-life emotions.
“I felt horrible coming into today’s race and it was a rough week,” explained Middaugh. “I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep and had everything stacked up this week. It’s the only week I’m in Colorado this month, so I had a lot to get done. And I spoke at a funeral yesterday for somebody I trained for 15 years who came to watch this race every time, so it’s been tough, but you have to leave the option open for success.”
Middaugh said he used his memories of his friend, David Stern, 75, who passed away on June 29, to get him through the tough stretches of the trail run today.
“David moved out here after 9/11. He was a lawyer in New York City and moved out here for the lifestyle. He was a ski instructor and I was his personal trainer for 15 years and he was my longest client. I would see him three days a week, every week, like clockwork. He was 75 just this year and he would come out to these races just to watch and after the races, he’d have the results printed out and he’d be shaking them on the treadmill asking me why my swim wasn’t faster,” smiled Middaugh. “I thought about him a lot today. He had some adversity in his life, and I had some low points on that run, and I knew it wasn’t half of what he experienced daily. I knew I had to suck it up.”
Josiah wasn’t the only Middaugh who had a big day on the trails. His oldest son, Sullivan, just 15-years-old, finished 15th overall and his younger son, Porter, 14, won the XTERRA Sprint race. Beyond his boys, Middaugh also coaches dozens of athletes who did today’s race, including 15-19 winner Robbie Day, 40-44 winner Mike Dorr, 45-49 runner-up Jen Razee, and many more.
“This is everything. This is why I race, because of this community I live in,” said Middaugh. “And to be able to show it, in front of the hometown crew, it’s special.”
Once Middaugh pulled away from the leaders on the bike, it really became a race for second, and what a race it was as Mike Meehan, a first-time XTERRA racer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was riding tire-to-tire with Sam Osborne, the two-time XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champion and winner of four straight races on the world tour.
“This chap here was strong on the bike, he was ridiculous,” said Osborne. “I was looking at that wheel like, this is my ticket to stay in the race.”
Meehan was the collegiate triathlon national champ when he raced for Penn State in 2016, and moved to Boulder, Colorado two years ago to pursue a PhD in mechanical engineering, studying computational fluid dynamics, and the fundamental physics of flow.
“My aunt Berta and Uncle Elliot live in Eagle and said, ‘come on up,’” explained Meehan. “I said, OK, sure, but I didn’t expect this performance today. I figured I would be closer to the front in the swim and fall off on the bike or fall off on the run. It was my first XTERRA, so there was no pressure, and I’d love to do more because it was definitely fun. I’ve been training for a bit and this course is so conducive to pure strength athletes because compared to other XTERRA races, the mountain biking isn’t as technical.”
In the sections where it did get technical, Osborne pulled away with his superior mountain bike handling skills.
“That’s exactly what makes this Tour so hard to win,” said Osborne, about the wide variations in course challenges found across the XTERRA Pan Am Tour. “You have to be a technical rider at Alabama and Victoria, that’s where you get rewarded. And you have to be a strong rider and incredibly fit on a course like this where the technical stuff isn’t as important. So, to come out victorious on the Tour is to be the best athlete.”
Osborne pulled away from Meehan on the run to finish in second with a strong appreciation for the challenge Middaugh and the Beaver Creek course provided.
“Racing Josiah on this course is always going to be tough,” he said. “He lives at this altitude, and coming in, I knew I had to respect it, but I was probably humbled more than I ever thought I would be. It’s really, really tough. I think you actually have to experience it to understand. It’s the deepest I’ve dug in a race in a long time.”
Karsten Madsen, who was also racing his third XTERRA in 20 days, threw down the fastest run split of the day by far (a 36:35 that was more than one-minute faster than Middaugh) to pass Rakita and Meehan for third place.
“I’m super elated, because to be honest, I never thought I would see myself on the podium here at Beaver Creek,” said Madsen, who overcame a scary situation with his heart earlier this year to return to racing at full strength.
“I basically passed out at ITU Cross-Worlds in Spain at the end of April. I just didn’t get off the bike when I should have, when I was going in and out of arrhythmias. After that, Triathlon Canada pulled my ability to race because if you pass out and have heart problems, you have to get checked out,” said Madsen. “So, about a month ago I had an exploratory cardiac ablation (a procedure to scar or destroy tissue in your heart that's allowing incorrect electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm) where they put four catheters up my femoral artery and started inducing different arrhythmias. The tests came out good and the cardiologist and doctor of Canadian Sports Institute signed off so I could return to racing. They said, basically, that I was a really good athlete, and I was safe, and I wasn’t going to die. And that was big for me.”
Meehan held on for fourth and Branden Rakita rounded out the top five.
Elite Men's Results
Place Name, NAT Time Points
1 Josiah Middaugh, USA 2:09:26 100
2 Sam Osborne, NZL 2:12:07 90
3 Karsten Madsen, CAN 2:13:19 82
4 Mike Meehan, USA 2:13:46 75
5 Branden Rakita, USA 2:15:41 69
6 Ryan Ignatz, USA 2:19:10 63
7 Brad Zoller, USA 2:20:23 58
8 Brian Smith, USA 2:20:29 53
9 Will Ross, USA 2:23:48 49
10 Elliot Bach, USA 2:24:06 45
11 Evan Pardi, USA 2:27:43 41
12 Alex Willis, USA 2:35:53 37
In the women’s elite race Suzie Snyder, who competed in her first XTERRA race as a pro on this course in 2010, managed to do something she hadn’t done in her previous 10 attempts at XTERRA Beaver Creek.
“I finally learned how to pace myself properly on this ridiculously challenging course,” said Snyder at the awards ceremony. “So, to all of you who struggled out there today and felt like it was the hardest thing you’ve ever done … trust me, we all feel that way. Talking to all these ladies after the race, we were like, this never gets easier.”
The day started with an XTERRA newcomer, Michelle Mehnert, putting more than one-minute on the rest of the elite women after the swim. Her lead, however, was short lived as the title contenders – Samantha Kingsford, Julie Baker, and Snyder, came out of the water close together and started charging hard on the bike.
Snyder got in front early and never looked back. She had a 47-second lead on Baker at the top of the first climb at about mile four, stretched that to more than two minutes by the bike-to-run transition, and ultimately took the tape in 2:37:08, more than two-minutes in front of Baker in second.
“I have never felt even half as good as I did today on this course,” said Snyder, a 14-year veteran of XTERRA. “It helps that Lesley’s not here (referring to World Champ Lesley Paterson, who won the last two at XTERRA Beaver Creek) and this is her strength and she’d be up like four minutes in a flash. I think that’s why I did well – I didn’t put pressure on myself. I realized I just had to relax. When I put pressure on myself, nothing good happens.”
Baker said she tried to go with Snyder early in the bike, but “I couldn’t keep up with her, so I ended up racing by myself for the rest of the day.”
Maia Ignatz showed she’s back to near full strength following a season of rehabilitating injuries by posting the second-best run of the day to move past Kingsford on the first climb into third place where she stayed through the finish line.
“That felt really good, except my knee which bothers me a little bit right now, but overall, it’s awesome, it almost doesn’t feel real,” said Ignatz.
Kingsford, who like her boyfriend Sam Osborne from New Zealand had never raced XTERRA Beaver Creek this high-up in the mountains, was happy just to finish.
“That was bloody hard,” she said. “Definitely altitude got one up on me today. Although we’ve been living at altitude in Boulder, we don’t live there permanently. And this is higher than Boulder. This is pretty high, and it was a survival effort to get to the finish so I’m just glad I made it in one piece.”
Anne Nevin from Norway posted the fastest run of the day (43:28) to finish in fifth.
Elite Women's Results
Place Name, NAT Time Points
1 Suzie Snyder, USA 2:37:08 100
2 Julie Baker, USA 2:39:10 90
3 Maia Ignatz, USA 2:41:49 82
4 Samantha Kingsford, NZL 2:48:14 75
5 Anne Nevin, NOR 2:49:15 69
6 Tess Amer, USA 2:51:53 63
7 Nicole Valentine, USA 2:53:32 58
8 Kara LaPoint, USA 2:54:41 53
9 Michelle Mehnert, USA 3:22:30 49
OSBORNE, KINGSFORD REMAIN ATOP PAN AM TOUR ELITE STANDINGS
Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford held on to the top spots in the 2019 XTERRA Pan American Tour standings after the seventh of 10 races. Elites count their best six scores of the season, including what they get (or don’t get) at the Pan Am Championship race which will be held September 7 in Ogden, Utah. Up next, XTERRA Mexico in Tapalpa on Aug. 3.
2019 XTERRA PAN AMERICA TOUR ELITE STANDINGS
After 7, as of 7.20.19
PL NAME, NAT TOT AR CH BR OM VC QC BC
1 Sam Osborne, NZL 365 x x 100 100 75 x 90
2 Josiah Middaugh, USA 332 x x x 90 67 75 100
3 Will Ross, USA 260 43 56 x x 51 61 49
4 Branden Rakita, USA 239 x x x 63 56 51 69
5 Kieran McPherson, NZL 216 67 67 x 82 x x x
6 Felipe Moletta, BRA 212 61 61 90 x x x x
7 Karsten Madsen, CAN 210 x x x x 61 67 82
8 Alejandro Bulacio, ARG 156 51 47 58 x x x x
9 Rafael Juriti, BRA 153 39 51 63 x x x x
10 Rom Akerson, CRC 150 75 75 x x x x x
11 Evan Pardi, USA 146 x x x 58 47 x 41
12 Brian Smith, USA 122 x x x 69 x x 53
13 Elliot Bach, USA 120 x x x 75 x x 45
14 Ryan Ignatz, USA 112 x x x 49 x x 63
15 Alex Roberts, NZL 99 56 43 x x x x x
16 Alex Rhodes, GBR 85 36 x 49 x x x x
17 Sebastian Neef, GER 82 x x 82 x x x x
18 Diogo Malagon, BRA 75 x x 75 x x x x
19 Mike Meehan, USA 75 x x x x x x 75
20 Marcus Fernandez, BRA 69 x x 69 x x x x
21 Brad Zoller, USA 58 x x x x x x 58
22 Edmond Roy, CAN 56 x x x x x 56 x
23 Hugo Barbosa, BRA 53 x x 53 x x x x
24 Walter Schafer, USA 53 x x x 53 x x x
25 Lucas Mendez, ARG 47 47 x x x x x x
26 Matthew Alford, USA 47 x x x x x 47 x
27 Raul Furtado, BRA 45 x x 45 x x x x
28 Will Kelsay, USA 45 x x x 45 x x x
29 Barret Fishner, USA 43 x x x x 43 x x
30 Vince Bethumeur, CAN 43 x x x x x 43 x
31 Edivando Cruz, BRA 41 x x 41 x x x x
32 Zach Winter, USA 41 x x x 41 x x x
33 Carlos Chang, CAN 39 x x x x x 39 x
34 Ronaldo Ferreira, BRA 37 x x 37 x x x x
35 Alex Willis, USA 37 x x x x x x 37
36 Jean-Philippe Thibodeau, CAN 36 x x x x x 36 x