Press and Media Center
The USA National Championship Kicks Off Sunday (Oct. 1) on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe at Incline Village, Nevada
The national championship on Sunday (Oct. 1) graces the north shore of Lake Tahoe at Incline Village, Nevada for the sixth straight year. This year's title race, the final stop on the Nissan Xterra USA Championship Series schedule, is the culmination of 50 qualifying events in 32 states. The concept of the Series, dreamt up by race director Dave "Kahuna" Nicholas and initiated in 2001, was to provide amateur athletes with a bona-fide championship to compete for. First qualify by finishing as one of the top points scorers in the region, then race against the top performers from every other region in the country. The idea worked. As proof, more than 300 XTERRA racers from 42 of the 50 states across the nation have qualified and traveled to Nevada in search of the national championship.
In this edition we'll sample Sunday's field to see who these guys are, where they're from, and what they do. We'll also look further into the pro race to see who's hot and what's at stake.
Sept. 30 - XTERRA Boney Mountain Scramble (Los Angeles, CA)
A downloadable version of the Nissan Xterra USA Championship press guide can be found at: http://www.xterraplanet.com/news/press_media.cfm.
Anybody who has ever ridden a mountain bike knows that crashing is part of the game. When the competition gets as good as it is on the XTERRA Tour and with guys and gals pushing themselves and their bikes to the brink of insanity, tumbles-spills-slips-washouts-and-ejections are inevitable. This simple truth has never been more evident than this year, where carnage has wreaked havoc on all the major players in the men's pro field. Brent McMahon, Seth Wealing, Conrad Stoltz, Brian Smith, Mike Vine, and Josiah Middaugh have all been sidelined at some point during the season after confrontations with Mother Nature's arsenal - the dirt, mud, roots, rocks, and tree branches of America. And yet they're all back, ready to push it to the limit again for the pure challenge of the sport and for the honor of calling themselves the XTERRA USA Champion. There is no doubt these guys-and-gals are tough, and come October 1st, it will take a gritty performance just to finish - let alone win.
The Nissan Xterra USA Championship is the last of six races in the Pro Series and how you finish here determines your final points total for the year and the Pro Series Champions. Second-year man Brent McMahon - the Canadian Olympian who swims like a fish and runs like the wind - is in the driver's seat for the Series with two wins, a second and a third for the year - and needs only to finish 7th or better to win the overall. Surging Seth Wealing enters the race second in the Series, but still 44 points behind the big red machine, so would need a combination of a great race and a McMahon collapse to become the first American since Michael Tobin in 2000 to claim the overall. Series aside, there are a slew of guys that will fight for the race prize. Conrad "the Caveman" Stoltz is the most-feared and powerful of them all and has won this race 3 times (2001-03) and the U.S. Pro Series 5 times (2001-04 & 2006). The elder-statesman of XTERRA - 41-year-young Andrew Noble (a former Duathlon World Champ) - would like nothing better than to make a statement here and take home big prize $$$. Mike Vine is the best mountain-venue racer in XTERRA (attested by his two consecutive Mountain Championship victories in Colorado and Utah), and this race is all about the 1,600-foot climb up tunnel-creek road and the necessity for a fearless descent down the same. Vine has no fear. Brian Smith, the Midwest Champion, has dueled with Conrad for the best mountain bike splits all year and could be the fastest on the bike in Tahoe (but will have to more than make-up for time lost during the swim). With all this talent it would be easy to overlook Josiah Middaugh - hoping to be the comeback kid of 2006. Middaugh was third in California before a crash pre-riding in Alabama took him out for the year. Tahoe is his first race back and word has it his training went heavy on the swim (his weakest discipline). If his swim is significantly improved, and he can show the form he had two years ago when he posted the best bike and run in Tahoe, he could have the heart-warming story of the season. There are many others that could win - among them are Michael Simpson (third in Utah), Greg Krause (sixth in Utah), Dominic Gillen (sixth in Series), Chris Legh (5th in Maui and 7th here last year) and Gael Mainard (one of France's best triathletes).
On the women's side the battle for the race title and Series crown gets much simpler. Jamie Whitmore vs. Melanie McQuaid and whoever comes out on top wins it all. Whitmore has three wins this year, McQuaid has two. Whitmore has won this race and the Series four-years-running. McQuaid is the only female with two XTERRA World Championships. Whitmore is the all-time winningest XTERRA athlete with 32 career victories. McQuaid won the last race in the Series, at altitude in Utah. The dynamic duo finished 1-2 in 19 of the last 21 races (11 wins for Jamie, 9 for Melanie, 1 for Renata Bucher during the stretch). This one race will be the culmination of three years worth of battles, and these two have always lived up to the hype. As consistent as Mel and Jamie are in the top two spots, Candy Angle is in third. Angle was third behind the two in every race this year, and without them in the line-up she won XTERRA Brazil. Anything goes wrong and she's ready to pounce, as proof is her 2002 XTERRA World Title. The really interesting races will come for spots 4-through-7 with Danelle Kabush, Janae Pritchett, Melissa Thomas, Jenny Tobin, Jennifer Smith and Ingrid Rolles all capable of great race day performances. New faces for this race include mountain bike specialists Shonny Vanlandingham and Jimena Florit and 1999 XTERRA World Champ Shari Kain.
$110,000 will be given away = $70k to the top performers in the Nissan Xterra Championship Series for pros, and $40k for the race alone. Here's how it breaks down for the Series: 1st - $14,000, 2nd - $7,000, 3rd - $4,500, 4th - $3,000, 5th - $2,000, 6th - $1,200, 7th - $900, 8th - $700, 9th - $500, 10th - $450, men only 11th - $400, 12th - $350, 13th - $300, 14th - $250, 15th - $200. Here's the race breakdown: 1st - $5,000, 2nd - $4,000, 3rd - $3,000, 4th - $2,400, 5th - $1,800, 6th - $1,400, 7th - $1,000, 8th - $700, men only 9th - $500, 10th - $400, 11th - $300, 12th - $200.
The sport of XTERRA has produced a special breed of athletes. From Alexei Desatoff, a 36-year-old therapist who lives in a rainforest in Southeast Alaska to Sam Holmes, a 42-year-old B-52 pilot that has logged over 500 combat hours. We have high school and college students, professors, doctors, lawyers, dentists, and psychotherapists from every corner of the U.S. It's a diverse group that shares at least one thing in common - that inner calling to LIVE MORE. Here's a cross-section of Sunday's field:
Dan Villarreal, 22, Blacksburg, VA (Student at Virginia Tech)
Jason Griscom, 26, Swedesboro, NJ (Realtor)
Robert Butner, 26, Castro Valley, CA (Computer programmer)
Cody Waite, 28, Phoenix, AZ (Student and Triathlon Coach)
Matty Chappo, 28, Truckee, CA (Graphic Desinger)
John Madden, 29, Redwood City, CA (Mechanical Engineer)
Damian Gonzalez, 29, Stockton, CA (Graphic designer)
Becky Batizy, 30, Boulder, CO (Financial Advisor)
Phillip Glenn, 30, Reno, NV (Realtor)
Sarah Max, 31, Tomahawk, WI (Freelance writer)
Brian Grasky, a 32-year-old from Tucson, AZ - is an international F-16 Instructor Pilot in Tucson, AZ. He flew his F16 to the Mountain Championship race in Ogden, UT. He's also one of the favorites to win the amateur national title.
Bart Voigt, 33, Indianapolis, IN (3D Modeler)
Travis McMaster, 33, Des Moines, IA (Nursing Student)
Randy Lee, 33, Glen Allen, VA (Consultant)
Laura Home - a 33-year-old from Santa Cruz, CA - is a 6th grade science teacher and one of America's fastest amateur women (won 30-34 XTERRA World Title last year).
Brody Anderson, 36, Tualatin, OR (Pool Builder)
Lara Usinowicz, 36, Evergreen, CO (Marketing Manager for Restop, aka the "poop bag lady")
Richard Costello - a 39-year-old from Pennsylvania - was a 352lb Professional Scottish Highland Games Athlete and Strongman from 1993 - 2003 and was the American Record Holder in the 16lb sheaf toss at 35'0.
Christiane Reetz, 40, San Antonio, TX (School Psychologist)
Eric Edgerton, 40, Aztec, NM (Owns a Goodyear Tire Store)
Andrew Duenow, 41, Anchorage, AK (Stay at home Dad)
Michael Green - a 42-year-old from Michigan - competed in the 1988 Olympics (swimming) for Great Britain.
Geoff Jones, 42, San Francisco, CA (Lawyer)
Katy Rosane, 43, Anchorage, AK (Nurse, Jazzercise instructor, Mom to 3 teenage boys)
Meiling Yee, 44, Sunnyvale, CA (PE Teacher)
Carol Quinn, 45, Gunnison, CO (Financier)
Casey Fannin, 46, Birmingham, AL (Entrepreneur)
Rick Ghent, 48, Denver, CO (Psychotherapist)
Mike Pearson, 50, Overland Park, KS (Design Engineer)
Barbara Peterson - a 50-year-old from Berkeley, CA - is as passionate and successful racer as XTERRA has ever known. She's a 5-time XTERRA Regional and National Champion, and 4-time XTERRA World Champ and the current XTERRA European Tour Champ. She is a freelance writer , jewelry maker, she co-founded NORBA, and was one of the first females to compete in mountain bike races in the early 80's.
Tjalling Ympa, 52, Bellingham, WA (Mathematics Professor at Western Washington University)
Audie Smith, 53, Knoxville, TN (Anesthesiologist)
Mike McClusky - a 57-year-old from Wisconsin - kicked a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit cold turkey, trained for and completed an Ironman in under a year's time, had a heart attack during an XTERRA race last year (still finished), recovered from that and qualified for XTERRA nationals this year.
Jim Donaldson, 62, Toledo, OH (Race manager for Elite Endeavors)
We asked the field to finish this sentence: "XTERRA is…" and here are just a few of their responses:
"A good excuse to spend more time outside than most people" - Liz Vineis
"Never giving up!" - Sam Holmes
"One of life's lessons: If you have participated in XTERRA, you know how to "Live in the Moment" - SueAnne Clark
"Tough!" - Katrin Tobin
"The ultimate challenge of speed, technique and endurance combined with FUN!" - Danelle Kabush
"An environment where athletes place atmosphere and fellow competitor's welfare above competition" - Nick Baldwin
"An opportunity to test one's physical limits, develop life skills, travel and meet great people" - Phillip Glenn
"An ass-kicking, gnarly, give it all you have, one of a kind race series that's not for the timid!" - Brendan Mims
"A way of life. I'm not a tri-geek, I race XTERRA" - Andrew Feeney
"About the people, all having fun" - Michael Green
"Always an adventure" - Janae Pritchett
"A silly, silly sport" - Thaddeus Reichley
"What mountain biking was 20 years ago…super fun, not too serious and extremely nice people" - Brody Anderson
"Seeing my first rattlesnake on the run while leading the Arizona Xtreme Desert Triathlon in Mesa, Arizona this year"- Brian Smith
"Running over Tim Menoher and tattooing his ass with my chainring" - Billy Anderson
"Floating my bike across the water crossing at the Midwest Mudder" - Sam Holmes
"Finished first in my age-group at Moab and crossed the line for a great photo-op only to find my wife under a tree reading a book," - Cody Waite
"It was a very hot, sticky race day and we had to run through a section of trail that was also used by horses. The section was also pure mud and was so deep it was eating people's shoes. We were all going through it and I looked around and everyone was smiling and having a blast. It would have been miserable to any other type of crowd, and I just thought, "only in XTERRA!" - Nicole Borem
"I will never forget the first year I raced Richmond in 2003 when the course was still 2 laps. I was new to XTERRA getting lapped by the Pro men, which was a little crazy! Someone comes up behind me and says, "Excuse me, could I please get by". Turns out it was Conrad Stoltz! I have never been passed in such a polite manner before, let alone by the guy who could win the race. That shows a lot of class - which I think Conrad still shows do this day!" - Ellen Sauter
"Getting such an incredible endorphin rush at Buffalo Creek this year on the run that I started laughing hysterically about 1/4 mile out and I couldn't stop...love that legal high!" - Lara Usinowicz
"Finishing Temecula and proposing to my wife, and more specifically...on the morning of the race I decided it would be safe to race with the blue velvet box which carried the ring. It went largely unnoticed until the last half of the run. You see, the ring had come loose from its resting spot in the box and was bouncing around inside the box. I could hear it, I could FEEL it. I was so concerned about it knocking about I stopped to make sure the diamond hadn't popped out of its setting… I kept telling myself its fine, if you open the box and the diamond did come off you WILL lose it…but I just had to check it anyway. Everything was fine so I just continued to the finishing line where Tanya was waiting for me. It's funny because the box was all wet and dirty with sweat and whatnot, and when I opened the box and took the ring out it was so marvelous, clean and bright. I told her I got there as fast as I could because I had been thinking about that moment for some time," - David Cloninger
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