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Patterson and Chacon win the XTERRA USA Championship

Edmonton's Chantell Widney finishes third.

The 2013 XTERRA USA Championship proved that there is no specific formula for success, especially when it comes to XTERRA experience.

Leonardo Chacon took the overall title in his first appearance at the XTERRA USA Championship, and just the third XTERRA race of his career.

Meanwhile on the women’s side, Lesley Paterson captured the title for the second consecutive year, continuing her amazing streak of XTERRA victories.

The 2013 XTERRA USA Championship was staged in picture-perfect conditions on Saturday at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah. The off-road triathlon consisted of a 1,500-meter swim, a 28-kilometer bike and a 9.8-kilometer trail run.


Although it is called the XTERRA USA Championship, the pro start list featured an international cast of stars. One of them was Leonardo Chacon, who participated in the 2012 Olympics and is considered a triathlon legend in his home country of Costa Rica.

His XTERRA experience, however, was limited to a fourth-place finish at the XTERRA World Championship last year in Hawaii, and a victory at the XTERRA Mexico Championship this year.

To make up for his relative lack of off-road experience, he trained in the mountains of Costa Rica. In particular, he found a trail that matched the elevation levels of Snowbasin (start at 4,900 feet above sea level, and reaching a peak of 7,300 feet).

“I’ve been training for this many months, like five to six months, improving my techniques,” said Chacon, 29. “Now I’m very happy I can be with these fast guys up there.”

Chacon said his first XTERRA experience in Hawaii last year sparked his desire to improve on that fourth-place showing.

“When I did XTERRA last year in Maui, I started thinking about improving my technique and see if I can be with these guys,” he said.

Chacon completed the course in 2 hours, 32 minutes, 31 seconds – including the fastest run split at 39:57.

He came out of the swim just seconds behind Australia’s Ben Allen, and had the lead for the first half of the bike leg. XTERRA veterans Conrad Stoltz of South Africa and American Josiah Middaugh (Vail, Colorado) eventually passed Chacon in the second half of the bike. At that point of the race, Chacon said he was content just to stay within sight of Stoltz and Middaugh.

“I knew I could run a bit faster than them, and I attacked,” he said of his run split.

Chacon and Middaugh were shoulder-to-shoulder midway through the run course before Chacon eventually turned it up in the final two miles and took the win by 57 seconds.

“I thought I had something in the tank, but I didn’t,” said Middaugh, who won the USA Championship in 2012. “Reached for it and it wasn’t there. I thought I was running the downhill stuff pretty good, but I was bonked and tired that last mile.”

Middaugh finished in 2:33:26, and his second-place showing was enough to net him the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series championship – his first in 10 years on the tour. “It’s been a long pursuit for this title,” he said. “Glad it finally worked out.”

Spain’s Ruben Ruzafa – another of the international stars to show up at Snowbasin this year – finished third in the USA Championship. It was his first time racing at the USA Championship, and just his second appearance in an XTERRA race in the United States, following his 2008 XTERRA World Championship victory in Hawaii.

Ruzafa finished in 2:33:55, including the best bike split of the day at 1:21:37.

The 40-year-old Stoltz placed fourth in 2:35:45, and said his racing style is not suited for the course at Snowbasin. “For me to beat them on this course, I need to have 110 percent performance and they need to have 90 percent performance,” he said.

Fellow South African Dan Hugo was fifth at 2:37:17, and said he enjoyed being part of the lead pack for most of the race. “This is what we want to see,” he said. “I thought it was going to be five guys within 90 seconds, and it was pretty close to that off the bike, and then Chacon opened it up a bit.”

Rounding out the top 10 were, in order: Ben Allen (Australia), Bradley Weiss (South Africa), Nicolas Lebrun (France), Branden Rakita (Colorado Springs, Colorado), and Ryan Ignatz (Boulder, Colorado).

Lebrun, a two-time former winner of the USA Championship, has announced his retirement from competition, so it was likely his last time racing on the course at Snowbasin. When asked what he would remember of the course, he replied: “Every part. I took it easy and enjoyed the race.”

Chacon received $2,500 for the victory, but said the victory goes much deeper than the title and the check. “If I train hard coming from a small country as Costa Rica, I can make my dreams come true,” he said. “With this, I can show to the people in Costa Rica that we can do it.”

Pl    Name    Age    Hometown    Time    Points

1    Leonardo Chacon    29    Liberia, Costa Rica    2:32:31    100
2    Josiah Middaugh    33    Vail, Colorado    2:33:26    90
3    Ruben Ruzafa    29    Malaga, Spain    2:33:55    82
4    Conrad Stoltz    39    Stellenbosch, South Africa    2:35:45    75
5    Dan Hugo    27    Stellenbosch, South Africa    2:37:17    69
6    Ben Allen    28    Wollongong, Australia    2:39:53    63
7    Bradley Weiss    24    Somerset West, South Africa    2:42:13    58
8    Nicolas Lebrun    40    Digne, France    2:44:30    53
9    Branden Rakita    32    Colorado Springs, Colorado    2:44:38    49
10    Ryan Ignatz    34    Boulder, Colorado    2:44:41    45


There was a point early during Saturday’s race when Lesley Paterson actually thought she was having a “horrible” day, thanks to lingering effects of a cold she carried into the race. That she went on to beat the women’s field by 43 seconds to win the XTERRA USA Championship for the second consecutive year shows just how dominant she has been in the past two years.

Paterson, 32, turned in the fastest bike split among the women and then held off 2012 Olympian Barbara Riveros (Chile) on the run to take the win. Paterson, who is originally from Scotland but now resides in San Diego, California, has now won the last two XTERRA USA Championships and the last two XTERRA World Championships.

She has also won numerous races in between, and thus also took home the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series title for the second straight year.

“It was a tight race, there were a lot of good girls here,” Paterson said. “It took me a good half the race just to get into it.”

Paterson came out of the swim in fifth place, but surprisingly got passed by several others during the first half of the bike course. “The legs just felt horrible,” she said. “We were at Wheeler Canyon and everyone was passing, and I’m a climber. I was like ‘what’s going on?’ ”

Once Paterson got into her rhythm, it was over for the other women. By the end of the bike leg, she was ahead by more than a minute. Her winning time was 2:53:21, including 1:36:38 on the bike leg.

Riveros made up some ground on the run, but was never within striking distance of Paterson. Riveros finished with a time of 2:54:04, including the best run split at 43:26.

“I knew she would catch me on the bike leg,” Riveros said of Paterson. “I tried to keep  up, but altitude is another factor here so you have to manage yourself.”

It was just the second XTERRA race for Riveros, and she placed second to Paterson both times (also at the 2012 XTERRA World Championship in Hawaii).

Chantell Widney from Canada placed third in her first appearance at the USA Championship with a time of 2:56:41. “This course really suited me with just tons of climbing,” she said.

Widney finished the bike leg in fourth place, and said she could see Riveros ahead, but realized the gap was too significant. “I was just hoping to maintain third,” Widney said.

Emma Garrard from nearby Park City, Utah, placed fourth in 2:59:07 for her best showing at the USA Championship. She did not participate last year while on a maternity break, and finished fifth in 2011.

“It’s definitely one of the strongest fields I’ve been in,” Garrard said. “Just to be able to race with all the other women on the bike was pretty awesome.”

Danelle Kabush from Canada was fifth, followed in order by Carina Wasle (Austria), Suzie Snyder (Fredericksburg, Virginia), Melanie McQuaid (Canada), Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colorado) and Christine Jeffrey (Canada).

Pl    Name    Age    Hometown    Time    Points
1    Lesley Paterson    32    San Diego, CA (Scotland)    2:53:21    100
2    Barbara Riveros    26    La Pintana, Chile    2:54:04    90
3    Chantell Widney    33    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada    2:56:41    82
4    Emma Garrard    30    Park City, Utah    2:59:07    75
5    Danelle Kabush    37    Calgary, Canada    3:00:29    69
6    Carina Wasle    28    Kundl, Austria    3:01:44    63
7    Suzie Snyder    31    Fredericksburg, Virginia    3:01:59    58
8    Melanie McQuaid    40    Victoria, B.C., Canada    3:02:48    53
9    Shonny Vanlandingham    44    Durango, Colorado    3:04:43    49
10    Christine Jeffrey    40    Tucson, Arizona    3:05:38    45


Josiah Middaugh and Lesley Paterson capped off remarkable season’s on XTERRA’s pro circuit. Paterson went undefeated, while Middaugh’s only blemish was his runner-up performance today. They each received a check for $10,000 for the series title.

Shonny Vanlandingham and Josiah Middaugh took home the honors of XTERRA USA National Champions for having the best seasons of American’s on the tour.
2013 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Standings (Final)

Pros counted their best 3-of-4 regionals, plus Nationals

Pl    Name    West    S’East    East    Mtn    USA    Totals

1    Josiah Middaugh    100    100    DNS    100    90    390
2    Dan Hugo    DNS    90    100    58    69    317
3    Branden Rakita    82    63    x49    90    49    284
4    Ryan Ignatz    75    DNS    90    69    45    279
5    Bradley Weiss    DNS    75    82    49    58    264
6    Craig Evans    63    82    58    x28    DNP    203
7    Cody Waite    DNS    45    41    75    37    198
8    Jason Michalak    58    34    DNS    53    41    186
9    Nick Fisher    37    69    75    DNS    DNP    181
10    Will Kelsay    49    58    69    x45    DNS    176
11    Conrad Stoltz    90    DNF    DNS    DNS    75    165
12    Matt Mangen    53    53    DNS    DNP    DNR    106
13    Leonardo Chacon    DNS    DNS    DNS    DNS    100    100
14    Andy Lee    DNS    37    63    DNP    DNP    100
15    Chris Ganter    DNF    49    DNS    37    DNP    86

Pl    Name    West    S’East    East    Mtn    USA    Totals

1    Lesley Paterson    100    100    100    DNS    100    400
2    Shonny Vanlandingham    82    x75    90    100    49    321
3    Danelle Kabush    69    x58    69    90    69    297
4    Melanie McQuaid    75    90    75    DNS    53    293
5    Suzie Snyder    90    69    x63    75    58    292
6    Emma Garrard    58    63    DNS    69    75    265
7    Brandi Heisterman    x41    82    82    45    28    237
8    Christine Jeffrey    31    53    58    DNS    45    187
9    Caroline Colonna    37    45    49    34    DNP    165
10    Kelley Cullen    63    DNS    DNS    82    DNS    145
11    Jaime Brede    53    DNS    DNS    49    DNP    102
12    Katie Button    DNS    49    53    DNS    DNS    102
13    Barbara Riveros    DNS    DNS    DNS    DNS    90    90
14    Tamara Donelson    45    DNS    DNS    41    DNP    86
15    Chantell Widney    DNS    DNS    DNS    DNS    82    82