A tsunami warning for the Hawaiian Islands was canceled early on Sunday morning, and then Javier Gomez Noya and Lesley Paterson went out and stormed the competition at the 2012 XTERRA World Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on the island of Maui.
Gomez was the overall winner, completing the course (1.5-kilometer swim, 30K mountain bike, 10K trail run) in 2 hours, 26 minutes, 50 seconds. The 29-year-old from Spain followed up his silver medal performance at the 2012 Olympics with an impressive victory in his inaugural XTERRA appearance.
Paterson was the top female, not only repeating her accomplishment of a year ago, but bettering it. She finished with a time of 2:44:11, which was nearly two minutes faster than her winning time of a year ago.
A capacity - and XTERRA World Championship record - field of 750 athletes from around the world participated in the event, which was held on Maui for the 17th consecutive year.
As if the lead-in drama to the event were not enough, a tsunami warning was issued for all of the Hawaiian Island late Saturday night. Many of the athletes stayed up late trying to get updates on the tsunami, and some were even evacuated from their hotels or homes.
"I think maybe some of the athletes had to evacuate or had to stay up a little bit later, but I don't think it had a big influence on the race," said Conrad Stoltz, who placed third overall. "I think we were lucky to have a fair world championship."
Indeed, the conditions did not adversely affect the race, although an expected swell did create a rougher-than-normal ocean swim.
2012 XTERRA World Championship Results:
Kapalua, Maui, HI - October 28, 2012
|Pro Men Results||Time||
|Pro Women Results||Time|
|Javier Gomez Noya||2:26:54||
|Victor Del Correl||2:30:24||
Check out some of the XTERRA World Championship pictures here.
Men's race: Gomez Noya proves his XTERRA worth
All of the XTERRA pros know who Javier Gomez Noya is. He is, after all, a two-time ITU triathlon world champ in addition to the 2012 Olympic silver medalist. They just didn't know how good he might be on an XTERRA course.
He turned out to be exceptional. Gomez made quite the XTERRA debut, running away to the overall win.
"I didn't expect that," Gomez said. "I had a really good swim ... but I knew these guys like Conrad (Stoltz) and the good mountain bikers, they are much better than me, especially on the technical sections, so my tactic was try to push really hard uphill because then you can go hard uphill and then on the downhill just not even try to go crazy fast, just try to recover and avoid crashing. It worked pretty well."
Gomez won it with an astonishing swim and a strong finishing run. He exited the water by himself, with the others more than a minute behind. He maintained the lead for most of the bike, before Conrad Stoltz passed him late on the course.
"I was surprised they caught me so late," Gomez said. "It was mile 14, maybe something like that when Conrad came. The last technical section before transition, he made a little gap, maybe 20 seconds, 30 seconds."
Stoltz's lead would be short-lived, as Gomez regained control early on the run course. "Javier is an amazing all-around athlete," said Stoltz, who owns a record four XTERRA world titles. "When I heard he was going to do this race, I knew he was definitely going to be a factor. Apart from his amazing physical abilities, his mental game is top notch."
Gomez , who received $20,000 for the overall victory, had the fastest swim and run times of the day.
XTERRA USA Champion Josiah Middaugh from Colorado also passed Stoltz during the run and finished second in 2:27:40. He has been chasing the XTERRA world title since 2001, and this was his best showing to date.
"I'm very happy with my race, I felt like I had the best day that I could with the skills that I have," said Middaugh, 34. "Lost a ton of time in the water and I knew that was going to be the story."
Middaugh came out of the water nearly four minutes after Gomez , and the difference proved to be too much, even though Middaugh had the fastest best bike time of the day (1:23:34).
"We knew he was the most talented guy here, we just didn't know how his skills were on a mountain bike," Middaugh said of Gomez . "We had a really hard time making back time on him. He raced really smart."
Stoltz placed third in 2:30:03, and held off Costa Rica's Leonardo Chacon late in the run. "I didn't see Josiah until 2K into the run," Stoltz said. "He came flying by."
Chacon finished fourth, just 16 seconds behind Stoltz. Victor Del Corral from Spain was fifth, just four seconds behind Chacon. It was the XTERRA World Championship debut for Chacon and Del Corral.
The top 10 men were an indication of the international diversity of the field. Eight countries were represented in that top 10, including sixth through 10th: Brent McMahon (Canada), Asa Shaw (France), Tim Don (United Kingdom), Yeray Luxem (Belgium) and Olivier Marceau (France).
Former XTERRA world champs Nicolas Lebrun from France and Eneko Llanos from Spain placed 11th and 12th, respectively.
Sebastian Kienle from Germany placed 14th just two weeks after placing fourth at the Ironman World Championship on the Big Island. He was the only professional to enter both races, and was thus the winner of the Hawaiian Airlines Double Award and $2,500.
Gomez is the third Spaniard to win the XTERRA World Championship, joining Eneko Llanos (2003, 2004, 2009) and Ruben Ruzafa (2008).
"It was perfect from start to finish for me," she said. "I've done some great training leading up to this. This was my big focus of the year, and it panned out exactly how I wanted it to."
The 32-year-old from Scotland took the lead early in the bike and then ran away from the other women. She finished more than four minutes ahead of runner-up Barbara Riveros (2:48:18) from Chile. Marie Rabie from South Africa was third in 2:53:55, and Heather Jackson from Carlsbad, Calif., was fourth in 2:54:12. Riveros, Rabie and Jackson were all making their XTERRA World Championship debuts.
Paterson's reputation has always been as a running specialist, but she has taken her mountain bike skills to a higher level in recent years and she now has two XTERRA world titles (and an ITU Cross World Championship) to show for it.
"I've done a lot of running off the bike, a lot of strength running off the bike, so I was prepared for that," Paterson said. "To be honest, the bike felt real comfortable and I didn't push it too hard so I knew I could come out and do a good run. I knew these ITU girls are quick runners so I had to really have my A game for that."
True to form, Paterson had the best run time of the day (40:51), but for the first time in her five years of entering the XTERRA World Championship, she posted the fastest bike time among the women.
Paterson received $20,000 for the victory and is now one of three women with multiple XTERRA World Championships. Julie Dibens (2009, 2008, 2007) and Melanie McQuaid (2006, 2005, 2003) are the others.
"Congratulations to Lesley, she's awesome," runner-up Riveros said. "I think I have to do more hard work. I can't just come here and say I know how to ride a mountain bike."
It was also an impressive debut for Riveros, who was the only female to get remotely close to Paterson. "I'm pretty happy," Riveros said. "To race XTERRA was one of my dreams, so I really enjoyed to race here."
Third-place Rabie proved her worth on the trails, following a fourth-place finish at the 2012 Olympics. She got off to a quick start, leading the women out of the swim, and then got passed only by Paterson and Riveros.
"It was totally unexpected," Rabie said. "Nothing compared to Lesley. She just flew past me on the bike, and I was kind of waiting for the other girls to catch me and they never did."
Heather Jackson had a strong run to finish in fourth place, and Jacqui Slack from the United Kingdom took fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 were (in order): Magali Tisseyre from Canada, Renata Bucher from Switzerland, former XTERRA world champ Shonny Vanlandingham from Colorado, Helena Erbenova from Czech Republic, and Marion Lorblanchet from France.