XTERRA Races this Weekend
Saturday July 16
XTERRA Mountain Championship
Sunday July 17
XTERRA Sky High
McQuaid’s Double Race Weekend
It’s a great time to celebrate competitors. From the gritty determination of riders at the Tour de France to the U.S. women’s soccer team’s inspiring play at the World Cup – brilliant examples of pure dedication and all-out-heart are all around us.
Those lucky enough to find themselves in the Colorado Rockies this weekend for the XTERRA Mountain Championship at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon have the chance to see hundreds of such warriors in action up-close, and witness one in particular who is taking competition to a whole new level.
Three-time XTERRA World Champion Melanie McQuaid is on a mission. The 38-year-old Canadian wants to be the best there is at XTERRA and be at the top of the Ironman 70.3 game at the same time. To put herself in a position to do that she has traveled thousands of miles and competed in nine races (five XTERRA’s, three 70.3’s, and ITU Worlds) in the last three months alone.
It started on back-to-back-to-back weekends in April with the Ironman Oceanside, CA 70.3 (she was first off the bike and finished 6th), then she won the XTERRA West and South Central Championships in Nevada and Texas. Two weeks later, still in April, she won the inaugural ITU Cross-Tri World Title in Spain. In May, a fatigue-and-sickness plagued fifth place at the XTERRA Pacific Champs in Santa Cruz, CA preceded a win at the Southeast Champs in Alabama a week later. In June, she was third at the 70.3 in New Hampshire and 2nd at the XTERRA East Champs in Richmond, VA a week later. Last week, she finished 10th at the 70.3 in Indiana.
On Saturday McQuaid will compete in one of XTERRA’s most grueling races (5,000 feet of climbing at 9,000 feet elevation) and just a few hours later on Sunday – 1,200 miles away in Northern California – she’ll race in the Ironman 70.3 Vineman.
Why? She’s a competitor – plain and simple. McQuaid wasn’t planning on racing at the Mountain Champs but the way the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series points worked out she was faced with the reality that if Shonny Vanlandingham won Saturday’s race (and if she didn’t compete) then she would be 11 points behind in second place in the Pro Series. What that meant is even if she won the XTERRA USA Championship in Utah (100pts), Vanlandingham could finish second (90pts) and still win the Pro Series.
“I did the math and that is exactly why I am here,” said McQuaid, who with a fourth-place finish or better on Saturday makes the USA Championship a head-to-head showdown with Shonny V where whoever wins in Utah wins the Series. “That said, there are a lot of strong altitude girls here for Saturday’s race with Shonny, Sara Tarkington, Kelley Cullen, Emma Garrard, that are most likely going to kick my ass so fourth-place is not guaranteed and I didn’t come here just to finish, I need those points so I’m going to have to battle. I’m hoping my technical skills might save me because if it comes down to purely lungs, mine may come up short with a half Ironman last weekend and half the altitude prep I normally do. However, I am going to give it a go because I would regret not at least trying to put myself in a position to win the series after racing so much this year.”
Regardless of her result on Saturday, McQuaid will clean-up; take the two-hour drive to Denver to catch a 4pm flight to San Francisco. She’ll land, drive to Santa Rosa, drop her shoes off at T2, find her homestay, try to get a few winks of sleep, then wake up at 4am to prepare to join one of the strongest 70.3 pro fields this year for a 6:30am start at Johnsons Beach in Guerneville, California.
“Vineman will likely be the most painful and humbling experience of my life. I am already on ‘struggle street’ form-wise but if I can just finish somewhere with points… like with the XTERRA series I can finish my qualification this weekend and go home to really start fresh knowing I am qualified for 70.3 Worlds AND in a position to win the XTERRA Pro Series.”
Right now McQuaid is 27th in IM 70.3 standings and the top 25 get into IM 70.3 Worlds through the first round of qualification. She can count five results, and (for example) a 15th place finish on Sunday will garner 150 points and likely keep her in the top 25 with IM 70.3 Lake Stevens (a race she won last year) still left on Aug. 15.
“My goal was to race well at all three World Champs this year (ITU, 70.3 and XTERRA) and place well at all different races … but adding a title in the XTERRA tour would be pretty darn cool as well.”
What’s also pretty darn cool is McQuaid’s drive to be the best, and the admirable quest to do all in her power to accomplish those goals.
“Pain is temporary. Glory is forever,” wrote McQuaid.