Josiah Middaugh of Colorado and Lesley Paterson from Scotland earned long awaited victories at the XTERRA USA Championship on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah.
Middaugh was the overall winner, breaking a string of frustratingly-close performances in this event. Paterson took the women’s title after back-to-back runner-up showings in 2010 and 2011.
Conrad Stoltz of South Africa placed fourth, but earned enough points to win his unprecedented 10th XTERRA U.S. Pro Series championship. Paterson captured her first XTERRA U.S. Pro Series title in the women’s division.
Middaugh, 34, has been the top-ranked American male in the XTERRA Series for seven of the past eight years, but until today, had never placed higher than third at the USA Championship. He finished with a winning time of 2:26:34.
“Finally,” said Middaugh, who resides in Eagle-Vail, Colorado. “More relief than anything. This is a really special win for me to pull this off for the first time.”
He did it in impressive fashion, finishing nearly two minutes ahead of runner-up Ben Allen of Australia. Middaugh’s lead was large enough for him to grab his two children in his arms just before he crossed the finish line. “It was just a special day for me,” he said. “I felt good, my training has been good for the last three months and it showed today.”
Middaugh is regarded as one of the fastest runners on the XTERRA circuit, so when he took the lead midway through the bike course, it was a matter of him staying upright the rest of the way.
“I caught the leaders early, about mile 6 or 7,” he said. “That first downhill Conrad (Stoltz) got back ahead of me, and it wasn’t until about mile 9 that I passed him again for the second time. But I was so tentative on the downhill, I was just so worried about flatting, or having something ruining a good performance. I knew my fitness was good, I just had to be careful everywhere. I was a little bit too nervous, but it worked out.”
Allen placed second in 2:28:46 for his best showing at the USA Championship. He was the first out of the swim, and stayed with the lead pack throughout the bike.
“On the bike, I just tried to stay in a nice rhythm,” Allen said. “Last year, that’s sort of where I lost it, so I was really determined to bounce back from last year and have a strong ride.”
Despite a crash on one of the downhills, Allen still managed to enter the run in third place, behind Middaugh and Stoltz.
“I caught Conrad (on the run) and I was trying to catch Josiah, but he was too strong today,” Allen said.
France’s Nico Lebrun, who won the XTERRA USA Championship race last year, also passed Stoltz during the run to take third place in 2:29:02.
“I felt more of the altitude, I don’t know why,” Lebrun said. “I was not feeling really good (on the bike) and then on the run I felt better again.”
Stoltz finished fourth (2:30:47), which was enough to edge Middaugh for the U.S. Series title. If Stoltz had placed fifth, Middaugh would have won the series.
“I’ve been racing XTERRA for 12 years now, so being able to win 10 series titles means a lot to me. It’s been an amazing journey.”
Middaugh entered the race with a full beard on his face – part of his strategy a few months ago to stop shaving until he won a race (he shaved immediately after the race). It prompted Stoltz to say: “All I can say is I think I’m going to grow a beard for Maui.”
The XTERRA World Championship will take place at Kapalua, Maui, next month.
Paterson’s performance continued an amazing run over the past 11 months. In that span, she has won the 2011 XTERRA World Championship, the 2012 ITU Cross Tri World Championship, and now the 2012 XTERRA USA Championship.
“It was awesome,” said Paterson, 31. “I did a lot of prep for this – came out 10 days early. It’s the first time in an XTERRA race that I went into the lead on the bike and held it. So I went into the run actually in the lead, which is very unusual for me, so I think my bike is finally coming together.”
Paterson had finished second at the USA Championship in 2011 and 2010, and third in 2009. She is considered the fastest female runner in XTERRA races, so it was all but over when she completed the bike course with the lead.
Paterson said she passed Melanie McQuaid for the lead on one of the steep bike climbs and and stayed in front the rest of the way. She then started the run with a cautious confidence.
“You’re always a bit nervous,” Paterson said. “Even though I’m a runner and I’ve got that pedigree, you still think ‘oh my gosh, did I push it too hard on the bike.’ ”
She did not relent during the run, and finished with a time of 2:49:09 – more than three minutes ahead of Suzie Snyder of Virginia (2:52:43).
It was also a breakthrough performance for Snyder, who had previously won an age-group amateur title at the USA Championship, but had never finished higher than ninth as a professional in this event. She came two weeks early and stayed with a local family to help acclimate for the race.
“It was definitely the best race of my life,” Snyder said. “Everything was cramping and it hurt worse than any race I’ve ever had, but I’m so happy, I don’t care.”
Snyder completed the bike in third place, but passed McQuaid for second early in the run.
Danelle Kabush from Canada had a strong run and finished third in 2:52:56. She also placed third last year.
“I’m definitely satisfied,” she said. “Second would have been better, but I’ll take third. This was a good test of fitness.”
McQuaid, last year’s winner of this event, was fourth in 2:54:56. Renata Bucher from Switzerland was fifth in 2:56:10.
Pl Name Age Hometown Time Purse
1 Josiah Middaugh 34 Vail, Colorado 2:26:57 $2,500
2 Ben Allen 27 North Wollongong, Australia 2:28:46 $2,000
3 Nicolas Lebrun 39 Digne-les-Bains, France 2:29:02 $1,500
4 Conrad Stoltz 38 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:30:47 $1,200
5 Branden Rakita 31 Colorado Springs, Colorado 2:34:01 $900
6 David Henestrosa 35 Manresa, Spain 2:35:24 $700
7 Will Kelsay 30 Boulder, Colorado 2:36:29 $500
8 Ryan Ignatz 33 Boulder, Colorado 2:36:44 $350
9 Cody Waite 33 Lakewood, Colorado 2:36:49 $200
10 Sam Gardner 37 Surrey, Great Britain 2:40:05 $150
Pl Name Age Hometown Time Purse
1 Lesley Paterson 31 San Diego, California (Scotland) 2:49:09 $2,500
2 Suzie Snyder 29 Fredericksburg, Virginia 2:52:43 $2,000
3 Danelle Kabush 36 Calgary, Alberta, Canada 2:52:56 $1,500
4 Melanie McQuaid 38 Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:54:56 $1,200
5 Renata Bucher 34 Lucerne, Switzerland 2:56:10 $900
6 Christine Jeffrey 39 Guelph, Ontario, Canada 3:01:03 $700
7 Jacqui Slack 29 Stoke-on-Trent, Great Britain 3:03:01 $500
8 Carina Wasle 28 Kundl, Austria 3:09:33 $350
9 Kim Baugh 32 Colorado Springs, Colorado 3:09:55 $200
10 Tamara Donelson 36 Edwards, Colorado 3:11:08 $150
STOLTZ, PATERSON WIN XTERRA U.S. PRO SERIES TITLES
Conrad Stoltz fourth-place finish was just enough to hold off Middaugh and win his unprecedented 10th XTERRA U.S. Pro Series crown while Lesley Paterson captured her first. Craig Evans and David Henestrosa tied for third in points but Henestrosa took third-place money due to the tie-breaker (best showing at this race). The same happened in the women’s field, with Melanie McQuaid and Renata Bucher tying for 2nd, but McQuaid finisher just ahead of the Swiss Miss today. Here’s a look at the final standings…
2012 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Standings (Final – 9.22.12)
Pl Name West S’East East Mtn USA Totals
1 Conrad Stoltz, RSA 100 100 100 d100 75 375
2 Josiah Middaugh, USA 90 d75 90 90 100 370
3 David Henestrosa, ESP 63 d53 63 75 63 264
4 Craig Evans, USA 58 90 82 d37 34 264
5 Branden Rakita, USA 69 d49 69 53 69 260
6 Will Kelsay, USA DNS 63 75 45 58 241
7 Cody Waite, USA d37 45 53 69 49 216
8 Adam Wirth, USA 41 DNF 49 34 41 165
9 Will Ross, USA 45 37 41 DNS 37 160
10 Chris Legh, AUS 75 82 DNS DNS DNF 157
Pl Name West S’East East Mtn USA Totals
1 Lesley Paterson, GBR 90 100 82 DNS 100 372
2 Melanie McQuaid, CAN d69 90 100 69 75 334
3 Renata Bucher, SUI 100 d45 90 75 69 334
4 Danelle Kabush, CAN 75 d63 69 100 82 326
5 Suzie Snyder, USA d63 75 63 82 90 310
6 Tamara Donelson, USA 41 DNP 45 63 45 194
7 Heather Holmes, USA DNS 34 58 58 41 191
8 Sara Tarkington, USA 49 37 DNS 90 DNS 176
9 Caroline Colonna, USA DNF 28 49 49 37 163
10 Shonny Vanlandingham, USA DNS 69 75 DNS DNF 144
SWEET SIXTEEN – POWLESS AND FINCHAMP WIN XTERRA AMATEUR TITLES
The future of XTERRA came of age in the amateur division as two teenagers – Neilson Powless and Hannah Rae Finchamp – took top honors.
Powless and Finchamp are both16, making them the youngest competitors to ever win the overall titles in the amateur division of the XTERRA USA Championship.
Powless, 16 and a sophomore at Roosevelt High School in Roseville, Calif., was the first overall amateur with a time of 2:43:32. It was good for 12th overall, topped only by 11 professionals.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better race. I wasn’t expecting to win top overall because there are some incredible athletes here.”
Powless said he was made aware of his position in the pack at the end of the bike, when his father told him that he was in the lead.
“At that point, I actually did pick it up,” he said. “I got really excited, and then I kind of had to hold myself back because I didn’t want to go too hard at the start of the run.”
Bryce Phinney of Arizona was the second overall amateur (and first in the 35-39 age group) with a time of 2:45:39. Nick Goodman, also from Arizona, was third overall (first in 30-34) at 2:50:01.
Powless also won the 15-19 age group for the second consecutive year.
Finchamp also repeated as a national champion in the 15-19 female group, and added the overall title to her already-impressive XTERRA resume.
“It was a phenomenal day out there on the course,” she said. “I’ve been with XTERRA since I was 10 and I’ve always considered myself a little bit of an XTERRA girl. Today, everything just fell into place and God was with me every second of the race.”
She placed eighth overall among all the females – less than a minute behind top British pro Jacqui Slack.
Finchamp, 16 and a junior at Maranatha High School in Altadena, Calif., said she was not aware of her impressive accomplishment until she approached the finish line and heard the crowd. “I had no idea,” she said. “I’m very surprised because all these athletes are so great. We all work so hard and everyone’s goal out there was to have all their training pay off and it definitely did for me.”
Making it more impressive, Finchamp competed with her injured left elbow taped for protection. “It got kicked in the swim, which was a little bit of a challenge,” she said. “But I just put my head down and with the true XTERRA spirit, just fight through anything and everything.”
Genevieve Evans of Canada finished right behind Finchamp and was the second female amateur with a time of 3:04:29. Anne Gonzales from Colorado was third in 3:05:16.
Shayna Powless – Neilson’s sister – placed second to Finchamp in the female 15-19 division.
Cindi Toepel from Littleton, Colorado, won the women’s 60-64 division, and it was her eighth XTERRA age-group national championship. Finchamp (2) and Evans (2) were the only other females to win for a second time.
In the men’s division, Tom Monica (55-59) won his third national title, while Powless, Ron Hill (75-older) and Michael Stone (physically challenged) all won their second.
Nearly 1,000 triathletes from 45 states took part in the day’s event, which also included short-and-long course XTERRA Utah triathlons in addition to the invite-only national championship race.
Here’s a look at the 2012 XTERRA USA Champions…
XTERRA USA CHAMPIONS (FEMALE)
Division Name Time Hometown
15 – 19 Hannah Rae Finchamp (2) 3:03:59 Altadena, CA
20 – 24 Elizabeth Gruber 3:14:23 Redding, CA
25 – 29 Kara Lapoint 3:11:40 Truckee, CA
30 – 34 Meghan Sheridan 3:05:28 Sandy, UT
35 – 39 Genevieve Evans (2) 3:04:29 Carnelian Bay, CA
40 – 44 Jennifer Kandolin 3:22:53 Jackson, WY
45 – 49 Paula Maresh 3:30:50 Littleton, CO
50 – 54 Anne Gonzales 3:05:16 Aspen, CO
55 – 59 Lucia Colbert 3:47:44 Memphis, TN
60 – 64 Cindi Toepel (8) 3:58:17 Littleton, CO
PC Judith Abrahams 5:50:21 Kenai, AK
XTERRA USA CHAMPIONS (MEN)
Division Name Time Hometown
15 – 19 Nielsen Powless (2) 2:43:32 Roseville, CA
20 – 24 Matt Riley 3:12:00 Red Wing, MN
25 – 29 Charles Karstrom 2:56:35 La Jolla, CA
30 – 34 Nick Goodman 2:50:01 Fountain Hills, AZ
35 – 39 Bryce Phinney 2:45:39 Tucson, AZ
40 – 44 Chris Scott 2:51:53 Morrison, IL
45 – 49 Bruce Rogers 3:02:44 Bend, OR
50 – 54 Charlie Wertheim 3:00:03 Carbondale, CO
55 – 59 Tom Monica (3) 3:06:56 Thousand Oaks, CA
60 – 64 Tryg Fortun 3:19:22 Kenmore, WA
65 – 69 James Rawie 4:32:06 Incline Village, NV
75+ Ron Hill (2) 6:04:30 Hayden, ID
PC Michael Stone (2) 3:59:58 Boulder, CO
* TOP AMATEURS