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Stoltz, Bucher win XTERRA East Championship
(Richmond, VA) - Conrad Stoltz, 36, from South Africa and Renata Bucher, 33, of Switzerland captured the XTERRA East Championship off-road triathlon pro titles in Richmond, Virginia this afternoon.
It was a characteristically hot mid 90’s summer day in the River City, and that didn’t seem to bother Stoltz one bit. The “Caveman” had the second-best swim time with a 12:42 (just 20 seconds off Seth Wealing), the fastest 24km bike split by far (a blazing 52:11), and even turned in the quickest 10km run of the day in 40:24. It all added up to yet another win for the tall South African – his fourth straight on the XTERRA America Tour this year, and fifth win in six years here in Richmond.
“Since I finished high school in 1991 I’ve been racing professionally so I’ve had basically 18 summers back-to-back, so I’m familiar with the heat,” said Stoltz. “I’m not great in the heat, though, so I have to prepare for it, which mean’s pacing and never going too hard in the swim, bike or run. The whole race I had to pull back a little bit, pull back a little, and make sure I had some energy left for the run.”
By midway through the bike Stoltz’ biggest threat was coming from his hometown of Stellenbosch in the form of 25-year-old Dan Hugo. Hugo, making his 2010 U.S. debut (he won XTERRA South Africa back in February), was riding and running strong and all by himself in second place for most of the day.
“I didn’t get splits until the very end so I had no idea what was going on behind me so I was racing more against the heat and myself, but it’s really good to see Dan back,” said Stoltz about Hugo, who was just 15-years-old when the Caveman did his first-ever XTERRA here in Richmond back in 2001. “Obviously he had a good race, and I’m excited to see him healthy and back, and racing. That should be good for XTERRA.”
Indeed it is good to have Hugo, who graced the cover of the July issue of Triathlete Magazine, back in the mix.
Of course, always in the mix is Josiah Middaugh, who worked his way into third when he passed Craig Evans at the gnarly 80-foot vertical climb up the “Mayan Ruins” during the early part of the run. That is where Middaugh is at his best, on long brutal climbs, and through the first four races of this season those have been few and far between.
Seth Wealing was solid all around and ran past Craig Evans by the finish line to take fourth, with Evans in 5th (his third straight top 5).
EMOTIONAL WIN FOR BUCHER
Renata Bucher grabbed the tape as she crossed the finish, then dropped to her knees and clasped her hands over her face in a gripping display of emotion that told a story of triumph in the face of adversity.
Just last Sunday while cooling down on the bike after the XTERRA Southeast Championship where she finished fourth, Bucher’s left foot slipped off the pedal and got jammed into the bike causing a painful toe injury. As a result, she scratched her original plans to race in the ETU Cross Triathlon European Championships in Slovakia yesterday, opting instead to see if she might be able to rest and race in Richmond.
“Today I had a lot of emotion because it was such a tough week,” said Bucher. “I had so much trouble with my toe, and I wasn’t sure if I should go home, and I didn’t do much physically at all. I didn’t think I could win, but the doctor here helped me so much. I’m just very grateful for all the help and support I received.”
Christine Jeffrey got the early jump out of the swim, but not with as much time as usual because of the relatively short swim across the James River to Belle Isle and back. Melanie McQuaid gained control of the lead early on the twisty bike course but Vanlandingham – who was just a minute 30 back of McQuaid out of the water – surged to the front, until she blew through a turn and went off course losing precious seconds, and allowing Bucher to jump in the lead.
At Hodson’s ramp with roughly four miles left in the bike Vanlandingham, Bucher, and McQuaid were riding single file as close as you can get in a colorful display of beautiful blue, black, and red racing kits. At the bike-to-run transition they were still tight, but Bucher had about 15 seconds on the others and posted the fastest run split to take the win in 1:59:27.
“I can smile again,” said Bucher, who won her fourth XTERRA Championship of the year (also Saipan, Portugal, and the South Central Championship in Waco, TX).
Vanlandingham had the best bike split despite missing that turn to finish in 2nd, and said Renata was running so strong she would have likely won regardless. McQuaid, who won the first five races in the U.S. Series last year, had to settle for third.
“Shonny and Renata are taking turns kicking my butt, they are really fast right now,” gasped McQuaid, who is experimenting with a whole new training program this year with the ultimate goal to win XTERRA Worlds in Maui. The three-time World Champ is hoping that what she is missing now, will come around when it counts.
Emma Garrard continues to impress, matching her career best finish in 4th place with Jeffrey in 5th.
Fastest 24km Bike Split: Conrad Stoltz (52:11), Shonny Vanlandingham (57:56)
Fastest 10km Run Split: Conrad Stoltz (40:24), Renata Bucher (44:34)
XTERRA U.S. PRO SERIES UPDATE
Stoltz stays perfect, and takes another step towards his goal of winning an 8th XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Crown. The top four men remain unchanged while Seth Wealing, Trevor Glavin, Will Kelsay and Branden Rakita all moved up. Ryan DeCook was riding strong but crashed today and hyperextended his knee so was not able to finish, dropping him from 5th to 9th in the series standings.
In the women's chase Vanlandingham has a controlling 36 point lead over McQuaid, who remained in 2nd, with Bucher not far behind in third. Garrard jumped up a spot to No. 4, with Jeffrey falling to 5th.
UP NEXT: The XTERRA Mountain Championship at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, CO on July 17, followed by the USA Championship at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah on September 25.
Note: The top 15 pros at each event are awarded points based on overall pro finish. Pros count their best four-of-five scores plus the points they get (or don’t get) at the XTERRA USA Championship in Utah. Thus, the final point total combines an athletes’ best four scores in the first five races, plus the USA Championship race points. He/she with the most points in the end is declared the U.S. Pro Series Champ. The U.S. Series will dish out $132,500 in prize money: $10,500 at each regional, $20,000 at the USA Championship, and $60,000 to the top overall points scorers in the Series. The XTERRA World Championship Oct. 24 in Makena, Maui is a stand-alone event worth $100,000.
2010 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Standings (after 4)
1 = XTERRA West Championship (Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort, NV) - April 25
Fred Smith from Knoxville, Tennessee was the only age grouper to break the two-hour mark while Amber Monforte, a former XTERRA Pro and Ultraman Canada record-holder, won the women's amateur division. Here's a look at all the age group champions...
XTERRA EAST CHAMPIONS (WOMEN)
XTERRA EAST CHAMPIONS (MEN)
Note: There was also an XTERRA Sport race today consisting of a 500-meter swim, 16km mountain bike, and 5km trail run. Walter Ayers from Richmond won the men's race in 1:30:17 and Kate Mitchell from Magnolia, Iowa took top honors for the women in 1:50:01. Also of note Phil Walker, CEO of Heritage Union Life Insurance, the home of SalaryShield - successfully completed his first XTERRA in 1:57:22 before handing out awards to today's participants. XTERRA Sport Results.
A special thanks to Nathan Burrell, the trails manager for the James River Park System, the Richmond Chapter of MORE (Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts), the James River Outdoor Coalition, Friends of the James River, and all the volunteers who have dedicated countless hours of work towards creating a magnificent trails system for the XTERRA Tribe and outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy in Richmond.
The 2010 XTERRA East Championship is presented by Paul Mitchell, Degree Men Adventure, and SalaryShield. Sponsors include the Utah Sports Commission, XTERRA.TV, GU Energy Gel, Gatorade, Zorrel, and the XTERRA Alliance - Wetsuits, Gear, Cycling, Fitness, and Footwear.
TEAM Unlimited, a Hawaii-based television events and marketing company, owns and produces XTERRA. In 2010 there are more than 100 XTERRA off-road triathlon and trail running events held in 15 countries worldwide. It all started with 123 competitors one afternoon in Maui, and has since evolved into the most prestigious off-road multisport race in the world.
© 2013 TEAM Unlimited LLC