Hamish Carter, Melanie McQuaid win XTERRA World Title
MAUI PRINCE HOTEL (MAKENA, HI) – Hamish Carter, 35, from Auckland, New Zealand and Melanie McQuaid, 33, from Victoria, B.C., Canada won their respective pro divisions on a trademark hot and sunny day on Maui’s South Shore this afternoon.
Each earn $25,000 in Maui at the Nissan Xterra World Championship
With the win McQuaid becomes the first pro – male or female – in the 11-year history of the event to win a third XTERRA World Championship. Carter, the 2004 Olympic triathlon gold medalist, won it in his first Maui attempt. McQuaid finished in 3:07:53, more than eight minutes ahead of fellow Canadian Danelle Kabush. Carter finished in 2:42:36, just 19 seconds ahead of Olivier Marceau, who he passed with less than a mile to go on the run.
“That course wasn’t meant for human consumption” were the first words Carter spoke after crossing the line. “It’s honestly the hardest, meanest course ever. The rocks and the hills don’t go away. You get rid of them on the bike and you get stuck back up there on the run,” said Carter, referring to the more than 3,000 feet of climbing on the bike and run up the dormant Haleakala Volcano.
Carter spent the entire day in a cat-and-mouse chase with Marceau, who was also the runner-up here in 2004. The chase started in the water as the two exited the 1.5k swim course in a little under 20 minutes alongside a handful of Olympic triathletes in Brent McMahon (CAN), Carter (NZL), Marceau (SUI), Eneko Llanos (ESP), plus his brother Hektor Llanos, American XTERRA Champ Seth Wealing and Honolulu’s Chad Seymour.
From the beach it was Carter that hit the bike course the hardest and pulled away from the field. Behind him, in the first downhill section before the famed Heartbreak Hill less than three miles into the course, leading challengers Mike Vine, Dominic Gillen, Francisco Serrano and Chris Legh all suffered flats. For Vine and Legh, it would mark the beginning of the end of their day and for Gillen and Serrano – serious setbacks that took them out of contention.
While Carter powered to the front Marceau let him go, knowing the beast of a climb Haleakala had in store later on. Midway into the bike Marceau caught Carter and the two rode together for most of the second half of the course. A couple minutes back was Wealing and the hard charging Josiah Middaugh – who had the best bike split of the day in 1:33:18 to move from 38th out of the water to second into the bike-to-run transition.
About a mile before T2 Carter got a flat of his own, but rather than fix it he skidded and weaved the remaining distance into transition.
“I couldn’t corner the last downhill but I figured I’d lose one-minute if I just tried to ride it in and I’d lose three minutes if I tried to stop and change it, so it was quite funny coming in because I had no control,” said Carter.
Marceau took advantage and headed out on the run a little over a minute ahead of Middaugh, Carter and Wealing.
Carter caught Middaugh straight away and Wealing too. “I was around some pretty fast runners so I had my work cut out for me, and I wasted myself on the bike but that’s what I had to do.” said Middaugh, who finished 4th for his fourth straight top 10 finish.
For more than five miles into the run Marceau was golden, but his legs were running out of gas. The ultimate stopper on the run is the “Makena Mile” – a near mile long stretch of soft white sand just a mile from the finish. It was here, at the end of that stretch, where Carter took over.
“I went down and looked for the hard sand because he was running up on the beach and I thought that I had to try and do something different. I had looked at the beach the day before and it was definetly harder down by the water and trying to find some hard sand was important,” said Carter. “Once I caught him I thought if he comes with me I’m in trouble because I got nothing left, but I just had a little bit more gas than him but man, that was so hard.”
It certainly wasn’t the case that Marceau gave in as he stayed on Carter’s heels through the finish line just 19 seconds back for the closest men’s finish in race history.
“I think Hamish deserves the first place,” said Marceau. “He had a great run and came back on me at the end of Makena Beach. For sure I could’ve won this race if Hamish hadn’t come, but he was the strongest today.”
Wealing was strong too and put together the third best bike and run to place third as the top American in just his first-ever attempt on the Maui course.
“I’m very pleased. I felt awful when I got here and was aiming for a top six so third is better than I could expect,” said Wealing. “It was fun running through the people on the beach but that first sand section is ridiculous. There’s no line at all. The run is so bloody hard, it’s just a strong man’s run. You get off the bike and your legs are just shot and they shove you right up that hill and then to add insult to injury that beach is just unbelievable. I can see that this is the premier race and why it’s the World Championship.”
Middaugh, who had been the top American the past two years, had a brilliant race in any circumstance, let alone having come back from major knee surgery in June.
Two-time XTERRA World Champ Eneko Llanos (2003 & 2004), fresh off a fifth place finish at Ironman, was amazingly fresh for this one and finished 5th here too. “I didn’t have the speed to stay with the guys in front. My legs are o.k. but not fresh. 5th here, 5th at Ironman, I think it’s been a good week.” That’s an understatement, and he became the first guy not named Peter Reid to win the Hawaiian Airlines Double award since 2001.
McMahon had the best swim and the best run to place 6th. Greg Krause was solid in 7th, and last year’s XTERRA World Champ Nicolas Lebrun finished 8th.
At 49-years-young Scott Tinley finished as the 44th pro. Tinley became the second inductee into the XTERRA Hall of Fame (Ned Overend was the first last year) at the pre-race dinner on Saturday night. He also had one of the better finish line quotes on the day, “It’s not a race fit for man nor beast.”
Coming into the race the women’s field was considered one of the deepest in recent memory with a handful of hopefuls given full consideration for the race win. In the end it was simply McQuaid, strong on the swim (5th), devastating on the bike (1st) and steady on the run (5th).
“Today all the preparation I put in during the last month came together and I felt like when I asked my body to do something it responded,” said McQuaid, who won her second straight and unprecedented third overall XTERRA World Title today.
At the very beginning the strong swimmers – Sibylle Matter and Candy Angle – put some time on the field and surged up the course, but before they could get comfortable there was McQuaid. Less than three miles into the bike she had already passed them both and set out on a blistering pace that left the closest riders more than six-minutes back by the midway point.
Several major crashes behind McQuaid – one involving 2004 Champ Jamie Whitmore on the plunge and the other taking down 2002 Champ Candy Angle near the Crossroads section – changed the dynamics of the race. Both Whitmore and Angle were done for the day with cuts and abrasions that left them unable to continue.
Filling the gap was Matter, Danelle Kabush, Jennifer Smith and Renata Bucher. Smith, as expected, had a magnificent bike – second only to McQuaid’s, and entered the bike-to-run transition in second, followed by Bucher, Kabush, and Shonny Vanlandingham.
With such a commanding lead McQuaid just had to keep moving. “I didn’t worry about what was going on behind me I just did my race and pushed myself as much as I could,” she said. “This year I had the luxury of riding well within my limits. I could’ve gone harder on the bike but I thought why not save some for the climb on the run. So I did and that paid off because the run was really hot and really hard.”
Nobody handled the run better than Kabush, who caught Bucher right away then Smith just before the end of the long climb and sailed into her best XTERRA finish – 2nd place. It was a great way to end the season having just come off a third place finish at the XTERRA USA Championship.
“I’m peakin at the right time feeling stronger and stronger as the season went on,” said Kabush, who was 6th here last year and 3rd in 2004. “Today everything went smooth and I was loving it on the bike because I had fast tires, no knobs, and that was good because it was hard packed, so I was lovin’ it. It was fun.”
Matter showed great form as well coming off a 19th place finish at Ironman and still having the legs to chase down Bucher and Smith on the run for 3rd.
“I’m so happy that I forget about all the things that are sore now,” said Matter. “I’m really surprised about this because I never thought I’d be on the podium again. I got to 5th place on the run then I saw Renata and I was surprised and down at the last beach I saw Jenny and went full speed and it was incredible. This is such a great race and there’s a lot of support from all the spectators and volunteers. I love coming here and I’ll sure come back.”
Smith held on for fourth, Bucher followed in fifth, and Jenny Tobin had the second-best run to finish in 6th and come in as the top American.
2006 Nissan Xterra World Championship Race Results ($125,000 Purse)
Also: Michael Simpson ($600), Andrew Noble ($500), Hektor Llanos ($400), Jimmy Archer ($300), and Sam Gardner ($300)
Also: Carina Wasle (AUS), Ingrid Rolles (RSA), Nicole Newton (USA), Imke Schiersch (GER), Jackie Burt (USA) Fastest swim: Brent McMahon (19:41), Sibylle Matter (20:51)
Fastest bike: Josiah Middaugh (1:35:08), Melanie McQuaid (1:49:55)
Fastest run: Brent McMahon (45:05), Danelle Kabush (53:51) AGE GROUP RACE: Rom Akerson from Costa Rica and Suzie Snyder from Colorado Springs, Colorado won the men’s and women’s amateur world championships. Akerson was 17th overall and Snyder was the 13th overall female. Repeat XTERRA World Champions include Wendy Minor (6), Barbara Peterson (5), Tom Lyons (5), Kent Robison (4), Peter Wood (4), Ian Davidson Jr. (2), Snyder (2), Laura Home (2), and Cindi Toepel (2).
* Two-time XTERRA World Champ
# Four-time XTERRA World Champ
$ Five-time XTERRA World Champ
HAWAIIAN AIRLINES DOUBLE: Eneko Llanos and Sibylle Matter won the men’s and women’s pro double awards and Thomas Vonach (Austria) and Barbara Alber (Germany) won the amateur titles. Hawaiian Airlines awarded $2,500 each to Llanos and Matter and awarded airfare from the West Coast to Hawaii for Vonach and Alber. Here’s a look at the complete results.
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