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Wealing, Vanlandingham Win XTERRA Mexico Championship
Seth Wealing and Shonny Vanlandingham took home top honors at the XTERRA Mexico Championship in Valle de Bravo on Sunday. Wealing, who described the venue as "one of the coolest places ever - altitude, cool temps, amazing landscape", finished nearly two minutes ahead of 2005 XTERRA World Champion Nicolas Lebrun while Vanlandingham edged 2006 Winter Olympian Rebecca Dussault by just 24 seconds. It marks the third win in four races for Vanlandingham (who also won the South Central and Mountain Cup titles) and the first championship victory for Wealing since capturing the XTERRA Mountain title in 2007.
“Kahuna Dave” Nicholas, the managing director of the XTERRA World Tour, was at the race and brings us this report and photos.
August 2, 2009 (Valle de Bravo, Mexico) - You’re in for another Kahuna report of a place you have to visit. Valle de Bravo sits about two hours drive from Mexico City on a huge reservoir, with green hills, mountains, hotels, villas and everything you could want in a perfect vacation spot. And now it has XTERRA Mexico.
The bike course is hilly but no long climbs, some road, some gravel, and some very nice single track. The kind of bike riding that had one of the pro’s saying “it’s the kind of course that makes you smile”. Distance over two laps was just at 27-kilometers. The run is totally stunning especially when you enter the woods and pop out with views of the valley and the lake and again, is simply a fun challenge.
The lake at Valle de Bravo was down about 50’ because of a lack of rain. The original place for the swim was a virtual mud pit, so the organizers moved the swim down about 400 meters which made for a nice, long run from swim to transition. Two of the very quick Mexican ITU guys came out of the water first, with Seth Wealing and Francisco "Paco" Serrano very close. Wealing ran down the two locals on the way to transition and quickly established himself in the lead. Serrano had problems putting on his shoes for the run to T1 and lost about 20 seconds – more on this later. For the women, Shonny Vanlandingham got kicked pretty hard at the start and had to pull over, rest and do the backstroke for a bit to calm down and came out of the swim some three minutes behind the fast Mexican women, including Olympian Fabiola Corona. XTERRA’s newest rising star, Rebecca Dussault, had a solid swim and at the end of the first lap had a fine one-minute lead on Corona with Vanlandingham looking very serious and chasing hard.
For the men, Wealing was simply flying. He thinks it was the tortilla’s, we can’t verify that, but his lead at the end of the first lap was well over a minute. Serrano was second, Nico Lebrun third, and Sergio Sarmiento 4th. The entire bike was such fun, spectators lined the long fields (which six months ago was the lake) and the wonderful hills and could see the riders coming down at the end of the first lap and going out for almost one kilometer.
Wealing was in complete command coming into T2 with a few minutes lead, but it was now Lebrun in second, closely followed by Serrano (who represented Mexico at the Beijing Olympics). Serrano (pictured) has done very well in triathlon in Mexico and on the ITU tour and is a god here. There were posters and cards and he spent two hours on Saturday in the local Specialized store signing autographs. When Paco came by, the crowd went crazy. He is a very fast runner, but so are Wealing and Lebrun. We waited to see what might happen.
For the gals, Vanlandingham simply steamrollered the second lap and Corona described Shonny passing her as a "blue blur". Dussault held Vanlandingham off for almost the entire lap, but the Texan/Coloradan/Hawaiian was not about to back away and she came into T2 with a slight lead and again, it came down to who could negotiate the run best.
Wealing came rolling in uncontested with just under two minutes in hand. Nico and Paco had a wonderful battle with Paco gaining and Nico responding. Remember that 20 seconds Paco lost with his shoes coming out of the water? He tried as hard as he could in the last half kilometer to catch the Frenchman, but the altitude (6,000’) got the better of him and he lost by 16 precious seconds.
A wonderful, sunny day. Temperature of the water was a beautiful 78 degrees, the air about the same. Perfect conditions for the event and perfect organization by Juan Carlos Vasquez and his men from Las Lomas. A wonderful start to hopefully a long series of events in Mexico.
You can fly into a suburban airport of Mexico City named Tolucca as well as Mexico City. Either is a nice 1.5-to-2 hour drive to Valle de Bravo. Once here, things are an unbelievable bargain. I bought 10 Corona’s for the crew at a small, local store for 100 pesos. About $8. A fabulous dinner at the 5-star Refugio; chicken Valencia with rice pilar, vegetables, a starter of tortilla soup, and two Coronas was just at $15. Airfare from Los Angeles is about $350-$400 if you book in advance. I did not realize it but Mexico City is well over 1,000 miles from San Diego and is far enough east to be in our central time zone. If you think Mexico is arid and desert you must think again. This area has a soft rain every afternoon, the hills and trees are fat and green. The folks are quick to smile and happy to see you. I love picante sauce and bought eight bottles of the fantastic Valentina – each bottle was eight pesos (about 75 cents a bottle).
This place is a complete winner. If you don’t come down next year and join what should be a bunch of Yanks and Europeans coming to enjoy a beautiful setting, wonderful people, tasty food and drink; shame on you. See you here next year.
COMING UP ON THE XTERRA WORLD TOUR
August 15 - XTERRA Germany Championship (Zittau)
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