Smith, Orchard win Age Group ITU Crowns
The age group races for the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships / XTERRA Southeast Championship were truly an international spectacle, as South Africa, the United States and New Zealand took the top podium honors.
Fred Smith (pictured right) of Knoxville, Tennessee, was the first age group finisher with a time of 2:12:31.
Elizabeth Orchard of Epsom, New Zealand, was the top female finisher with a time of 2:32:07.
The age group racers had their own starts and competed on the "Epic" course that featured a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 31-kilometer mountain bike and a 10-kilometer trail run.
Smith pulled off an exciting victory, running into the lead late in the trail run.
"It went better than expected," said Smith, 35. "I had Tim Van Daele, a two-time world champ, out there with me and a couple of other fast guys to act as rabbits."
Bryce Phinney of Tucson, Arizona, was in the lead after the bike, but Smith passed him about seven kilometers into the 10K run. "I saw Bryce in front of me … I just had to put the cramps out of my head and go by him hard - a little shock and awe."
Phinney came in second overall (also second to Smith in the 35-39 division) with a time of 2:12:47 - just 16 seconds behind Smith, despite the fact he crashed hard at the notorious "Blood Rock" section (read "Warrior" piece, a true "shock and awe" story)
Because the event was an ITU world championship race, Smith, Phinney and other Americans raced in special Team USA kits.
"It's a lot more special," Smith said. "Any time you get the privilege of putting on a uniform that says USA and competing with your country, whatever country it is, it's a special opportunity and something I definitely didn't want to miss and won't forget it for a long time."
Belgium's Tim Van Daele, a two-time former XTERRA amateur world champion, placed third in 2:14:01.
Orchard (pictured) put on an impressive show in the women's field, finishing more than three minutes ahead of the other females.
"I think I was about fourth out of the water, and I passed a few on the bike ride," said Orchard, 26. "There were a lot of spectators out there, cheering me on, giving me a lot of time indication of how far in front the leader was, and I think I took the lead a quarter of the way into the run."
Sylvia Van Tromp of South Africa was the second overall female (first in the 30-34 division) in 2:35:34.
Here is a list of all the 2012 ITU Cross Triathlon World Champions / XTERRA Southeast Champions:
ITU CROSS TRI WORLD CHAMPIONS - WOMEN
Age Group Results // Pro Results // Age Group Photo Gallery
The 2012 Shelby County ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships / XTERRA Southeast Championship is presented by Paul Mitchell, AVIA, and Shelby County. Sponsors include Oak Mountain State Park, the City of Pelham, the City of Hoover, Alabama Tourism Department, PowerBar, Gatorade, Rudy Project, Breakthrough Nutrition, Zorrel, XTERRAShop.com, XTERRA Wetsuits, XTERRA Footwear, XTERRA Fitness, and the Shelby County Reporter.
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