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Josiah Middaugh, Melanie McQuaid win XTERRA Canada Championship in Whistler
(Whistler, B.C., Canada) - Josiah Middaugh and Melanie McQuaid won the men's and women's pro titles at the XTERRA Canada Championship in Whistler, B.C. this morning.
XTERRA President Janet Clark was on-site to take in all the action and brings us this report:
2010 marks 10 years since XTERRA Canada was last held in Whistler, and the race organizing team of Yoeri Geerits, Cal Zaryski, Rose Serpico, and Tony Smith have brought Canada back to the XTERRA World Tour with a spectacular Whistler experience that combines a picturesque lake swim, sweet singletrack and some of the gnarliest mountain biking on the XTERRA Planet.
There was a definite chill in the air this morning as the sun tried to come out from behind the clouds at Alta Lake for the 9am start of the XTERRA Canada Championship. The swim was two laps of 750-meters with a short sprint in between, and was led by young stud Jordan Bryden with Christine “Big Fish” Jeffrey only seconds behind. Hot on their heels was three-time world champ Conrad Stoltz and U.S pro Branden Rakita. Canada’s first XTERRA Champion, Mike Vine was a minute back with fellow Canadian Karsten Madsen, and another 30-seconds behind was Colorado’s Josiah Middaugh. Three-time world champ, Melanie McQuaid, exited the swim 3 minutes behind Jeffrey and new mom Danelle Kabush over 5 minutes back from the leader.
Then came what everyone had been waiting for - 19km over two laps of what may arguably be XTERRA’s toughest bike course followed by 11km of up and down trail running, with a little pavement providing welcome relief from the roots, rocks, slipping and sliding.
It was here that the battle for XTERRA Canada champion came down to a contest between Mike Vine and Colorado’s Josiah Middaugh (pictured here at the XTERRA Mountain Champs in July). The two pulled almost identical bike splits with Josiah taking fastest bike by only one tenth of a second. “I like going uphill and the technical stuff was OK” said Middaugh, “but Mike Vine was awesome - he was whaling that stuff – it was crazy. I was trying to keep it close, but he would put 40 seconds on me on the descent. He started the run about 40-seconds up and I got him on the top of the first climb. He stayed pretty close. He could always see me, so it wasn’t over - I had to keep working.” Middaugh took the win with a margin of 35-seconds over Vine to finish in 2:09:30. It's his first win this season, and his second XTERRA Canada Championship title (he picked up his first-ever championship win in Canada back in 2004). “It feels good to have a win”, said Middaugh, “I’ve been close all year and I needed this… when you’re on you’re on, I felt good all day.”
Vine took second in 2:10:22 in Whistler, his “stomping ground” and his favorite place anywhere to ride. “I didn’t know what to expect as I haven’t been racing these guys all year. I raced in Saipan (in March), but none of the U.S. guys were there, and since then I started my new career working full time at a physical job. It takes the pressure off racing – I’m doing it for the enjoyment. I came out to have a good time today and it felt good to go full throttle and let it rip. Josiah had a really good ride – for him to come up here and ride these trails that well is impressive – I was definitely better prepared.”
Going out on the run Vine and Middaugh were followed by Conrad Stoltz and Branden Rakita. Rakita caught Stoltz on the run to take third in 2:17:37. “Canada is awesome and a ton of fun,” Rakita said. “This is a true XTERRA - technical and not just powering along. I felt good and was flying on the run”.
Stoltz took a wrong turn on the run and while finding his way back was passed by Colorado’s Cody Waite and Idaho’s Adam Wirth who took fourth and fifth respectively in 2:20:41 and 2:23:31. It was Wirth’s first XTERRA pro podium appearance. Stoltz took sixth in 2:24:12.
Canada’s Christine Jeffrey’s lead on the swim of just under 3 minutes was quickly taken away by a raging Melanie McQuaid, who was clearly in her element on Whistler’s mountain bike trails. McQuaid (pictured below at the XTERRA West Champs earlier this year) put in the fastest bike and run for the women to take the race in 2:29:28 – good for 7th pro place overall and more than 15 minutes ahead of Jeffrey who finished second sporting a dislocated shoulder from a crash on the bike.
“This is home,” said McQuaid “so it is kind of unfair, as it is all about my kind of single track. This is mountain biking, and XTERRA is a mountain bike triathlon. Different courses suit different people, and I think anyone who can do this race can be proud of their ability. This is much more impressive than doing an Ironman. If someone wants to show off their athletic ability, they should definitely try this race.”
“I can’t bike that” said Jeffrey. “I really struggled with that super technical Whistler single track. I had a few problems and took a few tumbles but got through it” Jeffrey finished in 2:45:48.
Alberta’s Danelle Kabush took third in 2:50:29, quite a feat given she gave birth to her second child only three months ago. “Trying to get the endurance back is the toughest part. I’m half way through my four race season and trying to be as fit as I can,” said Kabush. “This course is super fun. The rain made the roots a little slick, and I had a few good crashes.” She described the run as “brutal – straight up, straight down.”
The host hotel, Nita Lodge, was a welcoming finish for today’s pros and age groupers alike, and put on a sumptuous post-race barbeque of ribs, salmon, gourmet hamburgers and sausages with all the fixings. Set on its own lake, the accommodations are so luxurious you almost don’t want to leave. The race swag and huge array of random prizes were second to none. So, mark Whistler’s XTERRA Canada on your calendar for next year – all the athletes agree it was tough, and well worth the trip.
Pl Name, Country Swim Bike Run Total
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