Reigning XTERRA Pan America Tour Champions Josiah Middaugh and Suzie Snyder captured the 10th XTERRA Mexico Championship elite titles on a muddy day in Tapalpa, Jalisco with winning times of 2:25:28 and 3:00:07, respectively.
The victory is the fourth of the year for Middaugh and the fifth for Snyder, and the second XTERRA Mexico win for both of them.
“It was wet,” exclaimed Middaugh, the 2015 XTERRA World Champion. “The mud wasn’t as sticky as it was in Maui last year, but big thunderstorms yesterday and this morning sure did make it pretty ugly.”
Middaugh had a strong swim, coming out of the water just about 30-seconds behind Francisco Serrano and Branden Rakita, and made his way to the front of the race on the first big climb roughly four miles into the bike.
“I just kept the pedal to the metal from there,” he said. “Paco was riding really strong, and XTERRA Argentina champ Gonzalo Tellechea was climbing really well. I didn’t drop anybody, that’s for sure, but on the second climb I was able to build a little lead and I came into T2 with about 1:30 on Serrano.”
In the end Middaugh finished nearly three-minutes ahead of his long-time rival and home country hero Serrano, the former Olympian from Mexico while Kiwi Kieran McPherson turned in the fastest run split of the day to finish in third.
“After last year with the appendix fiasco and some of the bad luck I’ve had, I was really happy to just be healthy, have my bike stay operational the whole time, and get through this thing unscathed,” said Middaugh. “This event was really well run and has a really cool atmosphere. The triathletes that come from all over Mexico, and especially Guadalajara, clearly don’t mind getting dirty and having fun. It was a tough day but they all finished with big smiles.”
Tellechea finished fourth and Leonardo Saucedo Mata fifth, with Tour leading Branden Rakita and Brian Smith sixth and seventh.
SNYDER STAYS SMOOTH
Two years ago before the race here in Mexico Suzie Snyder crashed hard, crushed her pelvis, and wasn’t sure what was in store for her racing career.
Two years later the American is as fast as ever and on track to defend her XTERRA Pan America Tour title for the second year in a row having won five of seven races so far, with two runner-ups (to Barbara Riveros at XTERRA Chile and Lesley Paterson at XTERRA Beaver Creek).
“Highlight of the day was staying up right and not crashing,” said Snyder. “Ever since I broke myself on this course I’ve been cautious. It was so slippery out there today and the ground is hard underneath that slop so it freaks me out. Riding it clean was really important for me today and I was able to do that.”
Snyder got out of the water in front of former Olympian Fabiola Corona from Mexico, but ‘stumbled all over herself’ in transition so Corona took the lead out on to the bike. Just one-mile or so into the bike Snyder pulled away and that was that. She had the fastest bike of the day by far and finished more than seven-minutes ahead of Corona in second.
“It was a good win, and a hard, hard day,” said Snyder. “The whole course was so muddy. You could hear the mud grinding in your chain, splattering in your eyes all the time. There were super sketchy muddy downhills, that were actually kind of fun. The second big climb was horrendous and wet and soft. Off the bike I didn’t know what my lead was, but as I came around the lake I looked back and felt like I had a decent lead but my legs had nothing. I tried to find a rhythm but it was hard because I felt totally bonked with no energy.”
Corona, a four-time XTERRA Mexico Champ, was solid in second followed by Morgane Riou in third, Kara LaPoint in fourth, and Annie Bergen in fifth.