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Seth Wealing, Fabiola Corona win XTERRA Mexico Championship
Valle de Bravo, Mexico) - American Seth Wealing defended his title at the XTERRA Mexico Championship in Valle de Bravo this morning while Mexico's own Fabiola Corona took the women's title.
Here's a look at the podium; with Wealing and Corona on the top step; Dan Hugo and Shonny Vanlandingham in 2nd; and Francisco Serrano and Daniela Campuzano in third.
The managing director of the XTERRA World Tour, "Kahuna Dave" Nicholas, was on-site and brings us this report and these photos:
The forecast was rain. At the race briefing last night, I promised the crowd that I had brought Hawaiian weather to this fabulous place just outside Mexico City and Toluca – and I kept my promise.
On cue at 0815 Saturday morning, the sun popped up over the mountains and sunshine covered the area. It was good it happened as we had a huge thunderstorm Friday evening that left everything soaking wet. Transition, which was on a rather steep slope, became a quagmire with people slipping and sliding all morning. The sun did its job and by the time riders were coming back to T2, some of the mud had dried – not much mind you, but enough so the disaster of all the bike racks crashing into the lake never happened. Full marks to the XTERRA Mexico crew as they propped the downhill rack legs with bricks and secured everything with rebar and put the area in fantastic order.
The elites started with a one-minute lead on the men’s field and two minutes on the women. Irvin Perez led everyone out of the swim followed by Mexican favorite Francisco “Paco” Serrano and Seth Wealing. Wealing (pictured) had a terrible time getting his skinsuit off but after much yelling and yanking, finally left transition in 4th place behind Dan Hugo. Hugo was tearing it up on the bike. He knew Seth and Paco were runners and wanted to get three to four minutes over them on the bike. He seemed to have it done when he slid on the very muddy conditions and banged his right knee quite hard.
Slippery? Did I mention the mud and puddles? Slipping and sliding and mud were the order of the day. That, along with chickens and dogs, horses and even a donkey all made Valle de Bravo one exceptional event.
With the fall, Hugo (pictured) could not get the distance he wanted on Seth. Serrano, the Mexican Olympic Triathlete was having a fabulous battle with Wealing; who won here last year. They passed and re-passed a few times with Wealing finally able to edge away a few kilometers from the end of the second bike lap.
“My knee was just throbbing,” said Hugo. “The altitude was hurting me as well – but I really wanted to win this race and gave it everything I had”.
It simply was not enough. Wealing, who put in the fastest run by two minutes caught up to Hugo with about two kilometers to go. “Once I could see him I was pretty sure I could catch him. I thought about staying close and making it a sprint to the finish, but Hugo is tough and I just couldn’t take that chance” said Wealing.
He made the pass but the South African never gave in and finished less than a minute behind him. “It was close, but once he got past me, there was no way I could get him – I looked behind and kind of backed off a bit” was Hugo’s reply.
Serrano had a great run and was less than two minutes behind Hugo. “I have been doing so much ITU and road stuff for the federation,” said Serrano. “I have ridden my mountain bike maybe four times over the summer. I am really happy with my race and getting my mountain bike legs. I will race hard at Maui.”
For the women, Fabiola Corona (one of my favorite brands and in stock everywhere) came out of the water with nearly two minutes on Shonny Vanlandingham; last year’s winner. “I know how fast Shonny is so I try to put as much time as possible in the swim… then I say pedal hard Shonny is coming, pedal hard” laughed the Olympian triathlete (pictured).
Shonny was coming OK, but she followed a bunch of men riders through an intersection and got lost in the mountains of Valle de Bravo. “I should have known better because I made the same mistake on a pre-ride. I saw the double Jeep track and knew it was wrong” said Shonny. She got it back on course and was eight minutes down on Corona at the end of the first lap. She was able to make four minutes of it back with a sizzling second lap, but Fabiola (pronounced fav-ee-ola) can run and no matter how hard Shonny ran, she never put a dent into the four+ minute lead and like Hugo, when she could see the finish knew it was for second place. She even stopped to have her photo taken with the trail side grazing Donkey (pictured).
A wonderful event again for the second year. The trails are fabulous, the lake and entire area is scenic and beautiful. Why the California crowd does not take to this Mexican jewel is beyond me. The organizers do a great job, hospitality abounds, and flights are very inexpensive from LA, San Diego and the Bay area to Toluca. It is an easy 1.5 hour drive to the Valle and after that; it is life on easy street. A group of athletes came from Panama and were super impressed. They will bring a bigger group next year and are making Mexico part of their program.
Truly one of our great World Tour stops. Everyone from the USA, South America and even Europe needs to think about coming here and enjoying the Mexican culture and people. Prices are very inexpensive, the food and drink are unparalleled. See you there in 2011.
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