South African Conrad "the Caveman" Stoltz won his record-breaking 38th career championship on a picture-perfect, breezy, 75-degree afternoon at Cameron Park in Waco, Texas today. Melanie McQuaid picks up second win today with her victory, a week after winning in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada at the XTERRA West Championship.
It took every ounce of energy he had to make it happen as just 15 seconds separated the top three men. American Josiah Middaugh was more than three minutes behind Stoltz at the bike-to-run transition but made up all but eight seconds by the finish line.
"I looked behind me with about one kilometer to go and just saw these elbows and knees coming at me and knew I had to kick into another gear so Josiah wouldn't catch me," said Stoltz.
Middaugh, however, had already put it into his highest gear as he was in a full sprint the last mile trying to chase the Caveman down and simply couldn't go any faster.
"I ran really, really hard on that run and when I caught Seth he stayed with me on the flats and we picked up the pace together and closed in on Conrad but I had already been sprinting when he turned around and saw me behind him so there was no turbo button left to push to close the gap that last half-mile," said Middaugh, who posted the fastest 5.5-mile run in 34:50, more than a minute better than Wealing's run split.
While Middaugh nearly won the race on the run, Stoltz did indeed win the race on the bike. He crushed the technical 15-mile, limestone and bamboo covered course in 1:05:59, nearly three minutes faster than the next best split.
At about mile 12 with Queen's "Another one bites the dust" blasting in the woods where the crowd gathered at the Mix Master section of the bike Stoltz came flying down a skinny downhill forested trail called baseball at break-neck speed setting off a chorus of "wow's" from the spectators.
Up until that point Stoltz was playing catch up. He came out of the water in sixth place more than a minute-thirty behind the leaders Branden Rakita, Seth Wealing, and Craig Evans who were riding strong.
It took a while, but once Stoltz got in his groove at about the halfway point it was just like the song ... "and another one gone and another one gone, another one bites the dust" until hey, he caught Seth too and moved into the lead.
2011 XTERRA South Central Championship Results:
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|Pro Women Results||Time|
"It wasn't a perfect race for me, that's for sure. With this kind of technical stuff you really have to focus and ride smooth when the pressure is on and I had some hiccups today," said Stoltz. "It was kinda funny at one point I had just passed Seth Wealing and I dropped my chain on an uphill and was running up the hill trying to put it back and Seth is heckling me from behind saying 'what's a matter old man, can't climb this stuff anymore."
A win is a win, but this one was special for Stoltz as he eclipsed Jamie Whitmore's long-standing mark of 37 career championship victories and now holds yet another XTERRA milestone (he's also the only pro to win four XTERRA World Titles).
Always the sportsman, Stoltz acknowledged that had "J-Dawg" not come down with cancer forcing an early retirement from her pro career back in 2007 he'd still be chasing the gutzy tri girl from Northern California.
Wealing was fast and in the mix from beginning to end to finish third, just seven seconds behind Middaugh. Nicolas Lebrun was solid all day and nailed the run to pass Branden Rakita just before the finish line to place fourth for the second week in-a-row. Rakita, who led the race for about the first hour, finished in the top five for the second straight week.
Jeffrey was not only the first woman out of the water, she was the first racer out of the water with a swim-to-bike exit time of 20:17.
Having only started mountain biking a few years ago when she got into XTERRA you'd think Jeffrey might struggle on the technical trails at Cameron Park, but she did not - in fact, she held her own and kept McQuaid and mountain biking expert Shonny Vanlandingham at bay for some time.
"I felt good and I was clearing lines out there that I wasn't able to pull off last year so I think it's safe to say I'm getting better on the bike," said Jeffrey.
Meanwhile, the Arlington, TX native and reigning XTERRA World Champ Vanlandingham - who raced on these same trails when she was dominating the NORBA circuit before turning her focus to XTERRA - used those skills to post the best bike time at 1:13:41, about a minute-thirty quicker than McQuaid.
She needed another minute, because despite posting the fastest women's run time she couldn't reel in McQuaid who had a three-minute, 30-second advantage after the swim.
"I actually had a good swim for me and I had so much fun on that bike course," said Vanlandingham, who could be seen grinning from ear-to-ear at several different spots in Cameron Park today.
"Some of those whoop-turns I took weren't the fastest route but they were the most fun, and it only cost a second so was worth it. This atmosphere out here with the crowd and the music and the local host families all coming out is just a blast."
That sentiment was shared by everyone, including McQuaid who got to walk away with a gigantic belt buckle as a special prize from the local hosts.
"This place is so fun with the DJ out in the forest and all the cheering. Plus, the course is so interesting, it just never stops twisting and turning and going up-and-down," said McQuaid, who won back-to-back races on the XTERRA America Tour for the first time since '09.
"And that belt buckle, I saw that yesterday and wanted it. I was thinking about the buckle," smiled McQuaid.
The top three - McQuaid, Vanlandingham, Jeffrey finished in the same order as last week at the XTERRA West Championship in Vegas.
Suzie Snyder had a solid all around day to finish in fourth with Emma Garrard right behind in fifth.
- Middaugh, McQuaid Win 2011 XTERRA West Championship
- Ussher, Hanlen Win XTERRA New Zealand Championship
- Gardner & Vanlandingham Win 10th Annual XTERRA Saipan Championship
- Gardner, Vanlandingham Win Inaugural XTERRA Philippines Championship
- Hugo and Wasle Win 2011 XTERRA South Africa Championship