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Stoltz, McQuaid Win XTERRA Mountain Championship
SNOWBASIN RESORT, UTAH – On a course that featured more than 3,000-feet of climbing on rocky off-road mountain trails Conrad Stoltz from South Africa and Melanie McQuaid from Canada showcased an astonishing level of fitness and skill to win the XTERRA Mountain Championship today.
In the men’s race Stoltz was playing cat-and-mouse and trading the lead spot with Canadian Mike Vine during the last half of the bike before pulling away on the final downhill and getting into the bike-to-run transition with a one-minute lead.
“Mike and I were battling back and forth on the bike and were even running alongside each other pushing our bikes uphill at one point. We traded leads all the way to the summit and I know what a great runner he is so I went flat out on the downhill, I was basically free falling down the side of this mountain,” said Stoltz.
Vine was able to make up some time on the run, but not enough as Stoltz, the 3-time XTERRA World Champ (and two-time Olympian), held on for a 31-second margin of victory.
“It was a battle out there and I was glad to catch up to him on the climbs but every time the trail flatted out he took off and was just gone,” said Vine, who won this race in 2006. “It was a good race for me and pretty exciting to duke it out with Conrad, that doesn’t happen very often.”
The men’s race at the front was the closest XTERRA has seen in a long time as Stoltz’ winning time of 2:21:32 was less than a minute faster than the next four racers with Vine coming in at 2:22:03, Brian Smith in 2:22:12 and last year’s race winner Seth Wealing in 2:22:22.
“It’s nice to be at the top of the mountain,” said Stoltz (pictured here, photo courtesy Don Karle/XTERRA). “This was a very important race for me as I’m trying to win my sixth Pro Series title and after the DNF in Richmond I needed the points here. I’ve had quite a few flats this year and flatted at this race the last two years so I made sure to use some extra strong tires, brought two cans of air and a couple spare tires. I wasn’t taking any chances.”
Indeed Stoltz fortunes have turned around for him at Snowbasin and after his third championship victory this season (he also won the West and Southeast titles) he now sits at the top of the points series with a perfect 300 score, 30 better than fellow South African Dan Hugo heading into the XTERRA USA Championship in Lake Tahoe, Nevada on October 5.
“To me this is the hardest race of the whole season because of the altitude and the climbing, but the ambiance here is really special with all of the community support and great facilities. I really enjoy this place,” said Stoltz.
Brian Smith, who became the inaugural XTERRA Winter World Championship here at Snowbasin when it was covered in the “The Greatest Snow on Earth” back in March, was nearly five minutes behind Stoltz coming out of the water but posted the fastest bike split of the day (1:25:40) and headed into the bike-to-run transition just two minutes down alongside Seth Wealing. Smith, the top American in the race, headed out on the run just 10 seconds ahead of Wealing and the two posted identical run splits (30:23).
“I probably would have gone a minute slower on that run if it weren’t for Seth, he was on my heel the whole time,” said Smith, who with his second third place finish this year now sits in fourth place in the Pro Series.
Rounding out the top five was Josiah Middaugh, who had the fastest run split of the day in 30:19.
“Coming into this race I thought there were four other guys that could win, and they all finished in front of me,” smiled Middaugh, who used the 5th place points to move into the 3rd spot in the Pro Series.
Branden Rakita had his best race as an XTERRA pro to finish 6th.
McQUAID WINS THIRD CHAMPIONSHIP RACE OF ‘08
Melanie McQuaid was three minutes off the swim pace set by Christine Jeffrey and Linda Gallo but quickly made up that ground and took the lead at around mile five of the mountain bike portion and never looked back.
Shonny Vanlandingham, current and 7-time member of the U.S. National Mountain Bike team, posted the fastest bike split of the day to pull within striking distance but McQuaid hammered the run and won in 2:40:17, more than a minute-and-a-half in front of Vanlandingham.
“Ogden is the best. The community is so friendly and it’s so scenic up here, but this course is as physical as they get, I mean you even have to pedal the downhills. It’s a really difficult challenge and tests your fitness, but at the same time it’s gorgeous and really fun riding,” said McQuaid (pictured here, courtesy Don Karle/XTERRA), who also won this race in 2006. “I have an overwhelming sense of relief, so many things can go wrong out here and when it all works out like this it’s a great feeling.”
Vanlandingham was roughly four minutes behind McQuaid coming out of the water but worked her way through the crowd and was just a minute-thirty back at T2.
“I could see her up ahead but I just couldn’t catch her,” said Vanlandingham, who moved into second place in the Pro Series standings, 28 behind McQuaid’s perfect 300 score.
Jenny Smith came out of the water at the same time as Shonny V and posted the second-best bike split to move into third, Danelle Kabush put together the best run of the day to finish fourth, and Jenny Tobin placed 5th.
2008 XTERRA Mountain Championship Results ($20,000 Pro Purse)
TOP 15 PRO MEN
XTERRA U.S. PRO SERIES: The 2008 XTERRA National Championship Series for pros consists of five events:
May 18 - XTERRA West Championship (Temecula, CA)
The top 15 pros at each event are awarded points based on overall pro finish. Pros can drop one of their scores from the first four events, but must count the points they get (or don’t get) in Nevada. Thus, the final point total combines athletes best three scores in the first four races, plus the USA Championship race points. He/she with most points in the end is declared Series Champ. The U.S. Series will dish out $190,000 in prize money. $20,000 in Temecula, Pelham, Richmond, and Ogden, $40,000 in Nevada, plus $70,000 will be distributed to the top overall points scorers in the Series.
Note: The XTERRA World Championship Oct. 26 in Makena, Maui is a stand-alone event worth a $125,000.
XTERRA AMATEUR RACE: Luke Jay from Colorado was the top amateur on the day, finished 13th overall and head of several pros. Cary Kinross-Wright, also from Colorado, was the fastest female by just 10 seconds – edging standout Erin Kummer on the last 100 yards of downhill before the finish. Guy Perry (10th amateur) from Ogden and Erin Collins (4th amateur and 25-29 age group winner) from Provo were the top Utah finishers. Of other local note Tanya Mason from Park City won the 30-34 female age group, and Gerry Omelia from the University of Utah won the collegiate division.
More than 700 racers representing 30 states and 11 countries ascended upon today’s off-road tri and trail run. The grueling multisport challenge consisted of a 1.5-kilometer (0.93-mile) swim in Pineview Reservoir, a 30k (18.9-miles) mountain bike up Wheeler Canyon and around Snowbasin Resort, and 8.5k (5.2-miles) trail run.
The XTERRA Sport race (750m-wim, 11.3-mile bike, 3.1-mile run) was won by Josh Mortensen of Eden, Utah in 1:49:15 and Lisa White of Ogden in 1:59:56. There was also an 11.3-mile XTERRA Wheeler Canyon “Xduro” trail run that climbed 2,300 feet from Pineview Reservoir to Snowbasin this afternoon. The men’s winner was B.J. Christenson, 30, of Salt Lake City in 1:19:50 and Liz Stephen, 21, of Park City won the women’s race in 1:32:10.
The XTERRA Mountain Championship is presented by the Utah Sports Commission, Paul Mitchell and XTERRA Gear.com. Sponsors include GU, Gatorade, Rodale, Zorrel, Snowbasin, MediaOne of Utah, Biker’s Edge, and the Greater Ogden Athletic Legacy Foundation. A special thanks to the communities of Ogden and Snowbasin, the many volunteers, Utah Sports Commission, GOAL Foundation, and Snowbasin for their amazing support.
WINTER WORLDS: XTERRA returns to Ogden and Snowbasin March 7-8, 2009 for the XTERRA Winter World Championship - a weekend-long, multi-event sports extravaganza. The main event combines the four disciplines of randonnee skiing, mountain biking, running and snowshoeing. A special “Fire and Ice” award will be presented to the men’s and women’s pro and amateur racers with the fastest combined times in the XTERRA World Championship in Maui (Oct. 26) and the XTERRA Winter World Championship in Utah.
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