Josiah Middaugh and Lesley Paterson won the 2013 XTERRA West Championship off-road triathlon on a hot, windy, dusty day in the desert outside Lake Las Vegas Resort in Henderson, Nevada.
True to the XTERRA creed Mother Nature was the athletes toughest competitor and she made herself known early with a windstorm that blew through the early morning calm and wreaked havoc for the rest of the day. Amateurs and professionals alike felt the wrath of the conditions, including four-time world champion Conrad Stoltz, who required five stitches on his hand after crashing on the bike early in the race.
"Congrats to everybody who toughed it out today," Middaugh said at the awards ceremony. "I know there was some carnage out on the course. It was definitely a tough day out there for a lot of people, myself included."
Middaugh toughed it out better than the rest, and prevailed with a trademark rally on the run.
"I felt like it was kind of an ugly win," said Middaugh, who is from Eagle-Vail, Colorado. "I never had a rhythm on the bike. It was hot on the run. Everything was hard. It wasn't easy all day. Again, congrats to everybody who suffered through it."
Craig Evans led the 30-plus strong pro field into the first half of the swim in 57-degree Lake Las Vegas before "Big Fish" Christine Jeffrey put her stamp on it. She beat all of the men out of the water, followed seconds later by a pack including Evans, Branden Rakita, Stoltz, and Matt Lieto.
Rakita was the first out of transition, but Stoltz quickly caught him to take the lead on the bike. Stoltz's fall on the bike came at mile 5, and he sliced his hand open, but continued on with the lead. However, he couldn't grip properly for the duration of the bike, and the injury took his energy. By the time he got to the run he said he "couldn't be bothered."
Meanwhile, Middaugh was almost three minutes down after the swim, and thought he was out of it, but plugged away and kept the gap there. He was still 2 minutes, 30 seconds behind at the end of the bike, but made it up early in the run. He caught - and passed - Stoltz around mile 4, during one of the many big climbs, and then stretched the lead the rest of the way.
Middaugh finished the course with a time of 2:20:17 (the slowest winning time in five years on this course), and the South African Stoltz came in second at 2:23:23, with Rakita from Colorado Springs, Colorado, in third with a 2:28:30.
It was Middaugh's second XTERRA West Championship in the last three years. Stoltz won it last year.
2013 XTERRA West Championship Results:
Henderson, Nevada - April 13, 2013
|Pro Men Results||Time||
|Pro Women Results||Time|
In the women's race Paterson, the two-time XTERRA women's world champ, was an impressive fourth overall. She dominated the women's field, finishing with a time of 2:30:03, which was more than 12 minutes faster than Suzie Snyder in second, and also faster than 15 pro men.
"I thought I was going to get blown over, it was so windy," said Paterson, who is from Scotland but now resides and trains in San Diego. "Everyone, seriously, just for getting through that race today, what an awesome, awesome job."
Canada's Melanie McQuaid took the lead early in the bike, but Paterson caught her about halfway through the 30K bike course. Paterson's strength is running, so she pulled away from the other women during the run course.
"I've been having so much fun this year," she said. "I'm feeling really healthy, been working my butt off, waking up at 4:30 and putting the time in, so nice to see it pay off. And, my bike has really improved ... just being strong, consistent, and not playing scared."
Suzie Snyder, 31, of Fredericksburg,Virginia, placed second in 2:43:00, followed by 2010 world champ Shonny Vanlandingham from Durango, Colorado, in third at 2:45:35, and three-time world champ McQuaid in fourth at 2:47:28.
Seventeen-year-old Mauricio Mendez from Mexico also turned in an impressive performance, taking top overall honors in the amateur field. He finished seventh overall with a time of 2:31:28. Brandon Mills from San Diego was second in 2:33:00.
Another 17-year-old took top honors in the women's amateur field, as Hannah Rae Finchamp from Altadena, California, continued her torrid XTERRA run. She finished with a time of 2:51:24, which was topped only by five of the professional women. Finchamp is the defending XTERRA USA and World champion for amateur females.
Professional and amateur racers from 31 states took part in the grueling off-road triathlon, that combined a one-mile swim in the 57-degree water of Lake Las Vegas, with a 20-mile mountain bike and 6.3-mile trail run through the desert course that is best described as "lunar technical on baked clay"- a virtual moonscape.
The XTERRA West Championship was the first race in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series, and held at Lake Las Vegas for the fifth straight year. The next stop on the tour is the XTERRA Southeast Championship in Pelham, Alabama on May 18.
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