Learn More About the 2006 Class of XTERRA Amateur National Champions and Mr. XTERRA
We learn more about the 2006 class of XTERRA Amateur National Champions, reveal this year's Mr. XTERRA award winner, look at the list of athletes that qualified for the World Championship in Tahoe, salute our national championship hosts, and look at this weekend's XTERRA TV schedule.
Oct. 21 - XTERRA North Boundary Blitz Scramble (Knoxville, TN)
Oct. 28 - XTERRA La Jolla Canyon Legend Scramble (La Jolla, CA)
Oct. 28 - XTERRA Makena Beach Scramble (Makena, Maui)
Oct. 29 - Nissan Xterra World Championship (Makena, Maui)
Seth Wealing and Melanie McQuaid grabbed the headlines for winning the pro divisions of the Nissan Xterra USA Championship on Sunday, but there were also 21 amateur athletes that won national titles. Nine of them were from California, three from Colorado and Nevada, and one each from Virginia, New Hampshire, Illinois, Oregon, Iowa, and South Carolina. The hometowns of Reno, NV; Santa Cruz, CA; Denver, CO, and Los Gatos, CA each had two champs. Here we get to know a little bit more about them:
2006 XTERRA National Champions - Amateur Women
15 - 19 Sara Hanson (McLean, VA) 3:52:24 - The 19-year-old started racing triathlons less than eight months ago and said the high altitude on the Lake Tahoe course almost did her in. "I've never raced here before and it's tough," said Hanson, a biochemistry major at Virginia Tech. "The swim was really cold, the sand on the mountain bike course was rough and my legs hurt really bad on the run - but I just kept going."
20 - 24 Suzie Snyder (Colorado Springs, CO) 3:28:42 - A mountain bike crash and sore legs couldn't keep Snyder from winning her third straight XTERRA national title in the 20-24 division. "This year was especially tough," said the 24-year-old, who posted the third fastest time in the women's amateur division. "I just didn't feel good at all, I kept pushing and pushing just knowing I had to get through no matter how much it hurt." Appropriately, Snyder is a coach for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NCSA).
25 - 29 Elizabeth Vollmer (Denver, CO) 3:30:35 - Vollmer, who suffered a broken arm in June, said her goal was to "come back with a vengeance." The 29-year-old physician's assistant certainly accomplished that. "I had a lot of support and it was simply a great day," she said.
30 - 34 Laura Home (Santa Cruz, CA) 3:18:51 - Second just wouldn't do this time around for the sixth grade science teacher. "I wanted it so bad," said the 33-year-old, a four-year XTERRA veteran and reigning 30-34 World Champion. "I've been working really hard on the mental edge it takes to do this. It's a huge factor in these races and you've got to go harder than you ever thought you could to win," said Home, who was the fastest female amateur, placing 11th overall and ahead of nine pro women.
35 - 39 Birgit Johnston (Los Gatos, CA) 3:34:50 - A bad crash involving another rider on the mountain bike course almost ended her race, but Johnston - wife of men's 40-44 winner Tim Johnston - shrugged off the pain and scars to win her first national title. "This guy fell on top of me and it was tough to keep going," said the 38-year-old mother of two. "But, I had to do it."
40 - 44 Katrin Tobin (Santa Cruz, CA) 3:22:06 - "I was in way over my head," said the 44-year-old mother of two teenage girls and sister to adventure racing and XTERRA legend Michael Tobin. "But it turned out to be a great day. I went over the handle bars on the mountain bike course a couple times but I just got back up and kept going." The real estate agent finished less than four minutes behind the top amateur woman - her friend and hometown training partner Laura Home.
45 - 49 Beverly Enslow (Peoria, IL) 3:46:45 - It may have taken three years but the 49-year-old finally did it. "I've never won here before and I really wanted it," said Enslow, who's won the North Central Region Championship five times. "My run has comeback a lot this year and I guess the third time in Tahoe's a charm."
50 - 54 Barbara Peterson (Berkeley, CA) 3:56:35 - She's writing a book series on exercise, spends her winters skiing in Tahoe and the rest of the year training to win at XTERRA - which she's been doing for six straight years now. This was the 50-year-old's unprecedented sixth consecutive national crown, to go with four XTERRA World Championships and a couple XTERRA European Tour titles. "It's a great honor," Peterson said Sunday after finishing what she calls the hardest XTERRA course in the world. "Tahoe is tough, you have to dig deep to win here."
55 - 59 Mary Ellen LaBerge (La Grande, OR) 4:23:07 - The 57-year-old racer and five-year XTERRA veteran said the race couldn't have gone better. "It was absolutely fantastic," she said. "This is the most exciting mountain bike course I've ever raced on and it feels great to win."
2006 XTERRA National Champions - Amateur Men
15 - 19 Ryan Ognibene (Santa Ana, CA) 3:20:34 - Despite having to sacrifice vital training time to finish his mid-terms last week the 19-year-old freshman mechanical engineering major at the University of Colorado - Boulder won his first national title. Ognibene said he owes it all to his mom, "She kept telling me the guy behind me was catching up," he said. "So I kept going faster."
20 - 24 Kent Finley (Johnstown, IA) 3:08:22 - The 20-year-old aerospace engineering student in Prescott, Arizona, said there's nothing quite comparable to racing on the course in Lake Tahoe. "No where else can you get a course like this," he said. "The swim is brutal, I love the bike decent and the run is awesome."
25 - 29 Cody Waite (Denver, CO) 2:52:18 - The 28-year-old coach and team leader for Denver-based Endurance Performance Coaching said he was recovering from a pinched nerve in his back from a recent training accident, and that the run was his biggest worry going into Sunday's race. "But I came through alright." Sure did, he was third overall amateur less than a minute behind Boobar and in front of 11 male pros.
30 - 34 Matt Boobar (Plymouth, NH) 2:51:35 - The Colby College ski coach has won his share of XTERRA races, including the 25-29 national title back in 2001 and the 30-34 division in 2003, but never the overall. "My goal was to get into the top three," said the 34-year-old. "I never thought I'd win it all." His time of 2:51:35 was good for 18th overall, ahead of 11 pros and 22 seconds in front of amateur runner-up Brian Grasky.
35 - 39 Ross McMahan (Incline Village, NV) 2:57:15 - The 37-year-old hometown hero and local handyman said "the conditions were perfect" and that he made up most of his time during the 10-kilometer trail run portion of the course. "Today was my fastest run by far". His wife Sarah won the XTERRA Nevada competition on Saturday, and the two are proud parents to 8-month-old twin boys.
40 - 44 Tim Johnston (Los Gatos, CA) 2:58:49 - After retiring from Ironman racing to raise two young boys Tim and his wife Birgit returned to XTERRA racing this year and both went home national champs. "We just love it," said the 40-year-old. "I went out way to hard at first and had to literally start doing the breast stroke until I could get into the zone again. After that, everything went great."
45 - 49 Tom Lyons (Reno, NV) 3:04:43 - Last year's Mr. XTERRA said his backyard course is arguably his favorite but it's the people that keep him coming back. "I love racing XTERRA because when you finish you feel like you've done something, and the camaraderie of the people that race and host these events is simply amazing. There's nothing like it." Lyons, 45, has won five straight national titles and is a four-time XTERRA World Champ.
50 - 54 Ian Davidson, Jr. (Clemson, SC) 3:13:17 - Shaving nearly three minutes off his first place time in last year's race, Davidson, Jr. took home his third XTERRA National Title on Sunday. "I was just trying to stay ahead of the competition," said Davidson, who operates a lawn maintenance company in Clemson. "Which isn't always easy in these races."
55 - 59 Kent Robinson (Reno, NV) 3:23:06 - Robinson was nearly edged out this year by fellow racer David Rakita during the swim and mountain bike portions of the race but held on to win with a time of 3:23:06. "It was either him or me," said the 59-year-old trial lawyer. "One of us was going to have the perfect race and one of us was going to make a mistake - luckily, I didn't make to many mistakes." Robison is a 5-time XTERRA National Champ, 3-time XTERRA World Champ and Hawaiian Airlines Double survivor.
60 - 64 Peter Wood (La Jolla, CA) 3:54:18 - The 63-year-old won his second national title on Sunday. Wood, who also competes in road triathlons and adventure races, finished more than 30 minutes faster than any man in his age group. "He's incredible," fellow XTERRA racer and friend Hans Dieben said.
65 + Hans Dieben (Chula Vista, CA) 4:34:23 - He sails, runs everyday, rides off-road motorcycles…and wins triathlons. Dieben, 67, returned to Incline Village to claim his fifth XTERRA National Title on Sunday. "Every year it gets harder," said Dieben, the "oldest" competitor to enter the race. "This year I had to get off my bike many times, but I just kept going." For Dieben, who's also a three-time World Champion, XTERRA is just another recreational activity keeping him young. "I have nothing else to do," he said.
Challenged Athletes Division - Ryan Levinson (San Diego, CA) 4:48:44 - When Ryan, a former-elite level cyclist, was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy in 1996 he was advised by doctors to quit athletics. The prevailing though untested theory was that intense exercise would tear apart his diseased muscles. Rather than allow other people to define his limits, Ryan spent the next nine years living an intensely athletic life while allowing doctors and scientists to monitor his progress. He's had over 15 top 5 finishes in cycling and triathlon (this is his first XTERRA National Title) mostly against able-bodied athletes. The medical community is stunned by his progress and an increasing number of doctors, and people with similar disabilities, now use his example as an alternate approach to living with the disease.
Courtney Cardenas was named "Mr. XTERRA 2006" at the Night of Champions dinner before the Nissan Xterra USA Championship race on Saturday.
"I was totally speechless," said Cardenas. "I had no idea."
Every year XTERRA selects an athlete they feel best personifies the spirit of the sport - the camaraderie, commitment, challenge, discovery, and style that is the essence of the XTERRA lifestyle.
Cardenas, a 31-year-old from Somerset, California, does just that. He is well known in the XTERRA community for being a great bike mechanic and quick to help a fellow competitor get their rig set-up. He never asks for money, and it's said he spends more time working on other people's bikes than his own (and that those bikes he fixes usually work better than his too).
He's also become an expert in tire selection and many of the sport's top pros and amateurs will come to him for advice - which is always easy to get. Cardenas talks up XTERRA to anybody and everyone that will listen, is great around kids and newcomers, and is always encouraging others to enjoy the healthy, active, outdoors lifestyle and challenge of XTERRA.
This year he stood up in front of a crowded boardroom filled with all the political leaders of Saipan and made a passionate speech on why XTERRA was so good for the island, what it meant to him and his family, and why it was a great race to expose their island. Perhaps as a result, XTERRA Saipan will be on the schedule again in 2007.
Cardenas is a talented racer too, as proof he won his division on a single speed in Richmond this year. He's also been instrumental in the growth and success of XTERRA's all-time winningest athlete - his wife Jamie Whitmore.
At the dinner, in front of his friends and family, race director Dave "Kahuna" Nicholas roasted him, big time. The ribbing was so thorough that it was clear how much his friends and this community admired and appreciated what he means to XTERRA.
By virtue of their performance at the USA Championship in Nevada on Sunday, the following athletes qualified to compete in the Nissan Xterra World Championship on Oct. 29 in Maui. It's interesting to note that of those listed below only Mary Ellen LaBerge (55-59) and Ryan Levinson (Challenged Athlete Division) also won their age group national championship. The rest were recipients of roll-down slots as one-two-three-or-more athletes in front of them had previously qualified at one of the five regional championships this year. It's a true testament to the strength of the field in Nevada and that of the Maui race coming up.
Division Name Hometown
15 - 19 Becca Finley Johnston, Iowa
20 - 24 Kate Chapman Breckenridge, Colorado
25 - 29 Brandyn Roark-Gray Sandpoint, Idaho
25 - 29 Krista Birkelo Lewisburg, West Virginia
30 - 34 Sarah Max Bend, Oregon
30 - 34 Julie Bruckman Denver, Colorado
35 - 39 Korrie Dubray La Grande, Oregon
35 - 39 Lara Shadwick Colorado Springs, Colorado
40 - 44 Jayne Peterlin San Ramon, California
40 - 44 Katy Rosane Anchorage, Alaska
45 - 49 Carol Quinn Gunnison, Colorado
45 - 49 Annette MacNiven Wainscott, New York
55 - 59 Mary Ellen LaBerge La Grande, Oregon
Division Name Hometown
15 - 19 Kyle Bell Colorado Springs, Colorado
20 - 24 Jimmy Wills Manhattan Beach, California
25 - 29 Steven Garza Davis, California
25 - 29 Matt Chappell Truckee, California
30 - 34 Dereck Treadwell Oneonta, New York
30 - 34 Daniel Ourada Durango, Colorado
30 - 34 Jon Clark Rancho Santa Margarita, California
35 - 39 Darby Fultz Chula Vista, California
35 - 39 Eric Ronning Incline Village, Nevada
35 - 39 Jeff Landauer Roseville, California
40 - 44 Michael Green Farmington Hills, Michigan
40 - 44 Matt Carpenter Sebastopol, California
40 - 44 Karl Edgerton Vail, Colorado
45 - 49 Kevin Deighan Vail, Colorado
45 - 49 Barry Lewis Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
50 - 54 Hugo Kenyan Tahoe City, California
55 - 59 Mike Hicks Fountain Hills, Arizona
60 - 64 Richard Suggs Nacogdoches, Texas
Challenged Ryan Levinson San Diego, California
AT HOME IN INCLINE:
It's a magnificent setting for XTERRA's U.S. finale and the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe, Nevada State Parks and community of Incline Village were once again brilliant hosts. Several hundred athletes representing 42 states and several countries flocked to the North Shore of Lake Tahoe for this event, and were treated like stars by the locals. In response, they brought their friends and family and poured money into the economy by eating at a wide variety of great area restaurants, staying at hotels and condos, buying groceries, gas, rental cars, souvenirs, and so on.
In appreciation for their support XTERRA donated $1,000 to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, the AYSO of Incline Village received $1,220 as the beneficiary of the XTERRA Scramble Trail Runs, and in exchange for volunteering at the race the Incline High School JROTC received a check for $1,400 and Incline Wrestling Foundation $820.