Conrad Stoltz, 38, from Stellenbosch, South Africa and Melanie McQuaid, 38, from Victoria, B.C., Canada won the 14th edition of the XTERRA East Championship in downtown Richmond, Virginia this morning.
In a city with such a rich and colorful history it's only appropriate that the sports most experienced stars stole the headlines. For Stoltz, who "lost his heart to XTERRA in Richmond" back in 2001 it's his seventh win in eight years, and for McQuaid the victory marks her 12th consecutive year in the top three.
"I just love Richmond, the course is amazing and really suits me," said Stoltz, who had the fastest bike split by far in 1:21:00 despite doing an extra little out-and-back section that no one else did.
"On the first lap I caught Craig (Evans) and then five minutes later I caught him again. Turns out a section had changed since when I went pre-riding and I wasn't looking at the arrows," Stoltz explained.
"He did the old course out-and-back," said Evans, who followed the correct route. "It was funny because a few minutes later I hear this loud chain slap behind me and thought, oh man Josiah or somebody is riding great and then Conrad comes by and says "where'd you go" and I said "I went straight, where'd you go?"
Evans tried to stay with him the second time around but conceded "he's in a whole different league right now."
On the second of the two 10-mile twisty, turny, tree and fanatic-fan filled roller coaster ride of a mountain bike course Stoltz followed the right arrow and got into his groove.
"First lap my head wasn't in it, I wasn't focused. So, on the second lap I was paying attention and saw where I went wrong. The second lap I was just flying, it was so smooth and so much fun. There was a lot of spectators on the cliff all in costume, yelling, spraying beer and dancing around. It was like riding through a circus. It's such a fun race, really the epitome of XTERRA."
Stoltz took to the run with a big lead, had time to stretch out a twinge in his calf at the 6K mark, and sailed into the finish chute with his third straight win in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series.
Josiah Middaugh, the last man to win here in Richmond - back on Father's Day in 2008 - overcame a series of mishaps on the bike to reel in Evans on the run with less than a mile to go.
2012 XTERRA East Championship Results:
Richmond, Virginia - June 10, 2012
|Pro Men Results||Time||
|Pro Women Results||Time|
Melanie McQuaid led just about the entire race. Suzie Snyder got out of the water first but McQuaid passed her on the long run to the transition area, then never looked back using her course knowledge and stellar bike handling skills to take a big lead onto the run that she would never relinquish.
"I'm so excited. I voted myself least likely to succeed here and had extremely low expectations," said McQuaid, who raced in a 70.3 road triathlon in tough, windy conditions 5,000 miles away in Hawaii last Saturday. "The last two months since getting sick in Vegas were disappointing, and I just didn't have the same kind of confidence."
You can bet she got some of that swagger back today with an impressive performance that had her crossing the line in 2:36:09, just under two minutes ahead of Renata Bucher from Lucerne, Switzerland.
"Today was my last race for five weeks and it's nice to end on a high-note," said McQuaid. "Usually I'm going this hard and it's just whether or not I can get to the finish line. Between the bike and the run the heat went up about 7,000 degrees. The run was really hot, especially on the dry way section. What helped was so much encouragement from the aid stations, just super people here in Richmond."
"Last two races I couldn't run well because of the crash I had in Alabama," Bucher explained. "Today I ran for feeling, listened to my body, not focused on anybody and it was great. I loved the course, and was really by myself for most of the day. It was awesome."
Reigning XTERRA World Champ Lesley Paterson managed the fastest run of the day despite a series of spills on a course that is more technical than most.
Shonny Vanlandingham had a strong bike to move her way into third by the bike-to-run transition and was only passed by Paterson, thus finishing fourth, with the speedy Danelle Kabush in fifth. Snyder finished sixth, and Heather Holmes had her best showing in the U.S. in seventh.
- Stoltz, Paterson Win ITU Cross Tri World Championships
- Stoltz, Bucher Win 2012 XTERRA West Championship