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Stoltz, McQuaid win in Waco
(Cameron Park - Waco, TX) - South African Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz won his record-breaking 38th career championship on a picture-perfect, breezy, 75-degree afternoon at Cameron Park in Waco, Texas today.
It took every ounce of energy he had to make it happen as just 15 seconds separated the top three men. American Josiah Middaugh was more than three minutes behind Stoltz at the bike-to-run transition but made up all but eight seconds by the finish line.
“I looked behind me with about one kilometer to go and just saw these elbows and knees coming at me and knew I had to kick into another gear so Josiah wouldn’t catch me,” said Stoltz.
Middaugh, however, had already put it into his highest gear as he was in a full sprint the last mile trying to chase the Caveman down and simply couldn’t go any faster.
“I ran really, really hard on that run and when I caught Seth he stayed with me on the flats and we picked up the pace together and closed in on Conrad but I had already been sprinting when he turned around and saw me behind him so there was no turbo button left to push to close the gap that last half-mile,” said Middaugh, who posted the fastest 5.5-mile run in 34:50, more than a minute better than Wealing’s run split.
While Middaugh nearly won the race on the run, Stoltz did indeed win the race on the bike. He crushed the technical 15-mile, limestone and bamboo covered course in 1:05:59, nearly three minutes faster than the next best split.
At about mile 12 with Queen’s “Another one bites the dust” blasting in the woods where the crowd gathered at the Mix Master section of the bike Stoltz came flying down a skinny downhill forested trail called baseball at break-neck speed setting off a chorus of “wow’s” from the spectators.
Up until that point Stoltz was playing catch up. He came out of the water in sixth place more than a minute-thirty behind the leaders Branden Rakita, Seth Wealing, and Craig Evans who were riding strong.
It took a while, but once Stoltz got in his groove at about the halfway point it was just like the song … “and another one gone and another one gone, another one bites the dust” until hey, he caught Seth too and moved into the lead.
“It wasn’t a perfect race for me, that’s for sure. With this kind of technical stuff you really have to focus and ride smooth when the pressure is on and I had some hiccups today,” said Stoltz. “It was kinda funny at one point I had just passed Seth Wealing and I dropped my chain on an uphill and was running up the hill trying to put it back and Seth is heckling me from behind saying ‘what’s a matter old man, can’t climb this stuff anymore.’”
A win is a win, but this one was special for Stoltz as he eclipsed Jamie Whitmore’s long-standing mark of 37 career championship victories and now holds yet another XTERRA milestone (he’s also the only pro to win four XTERRA World Titles).
Always the sportsman, Stoltz acknowledged that had “J-Dawg” not come down with cancer forcing an early retirement from her pro career back in 2007 he’d still be chasing the gutzy tri girl from Northern California.
Wealing (pictured) was fast and in the mix from beginning to end to finish third, just seven seconds behind Middaugh. Nicolas Lebrun was solid all day and nailed the run to pass Branden Rakita just before the finish line to place fourth for the second week in-a-row. Rakita, who led the race for about the first hour, finished in the top five for the second straight week.
Craig Evans held on for sixth, with Trevor Glavin getting the last money spot in seventh place. Young-gun Will Ross from Anchorage, Alaska was impressive in his first pro race, placing eighth, while Patrick Valentine (9th) and Cody Waite rounded out the top 10.
TOP PRO MEN
Also: Shiloh Mielke (41), Adam Wirth (37), Jason Michalak (34), Will Kelsay (31), Damian Gonzalez (28), Matt Boobar
McQUAID PICKS UP SECOND WIN IN AS MANY WEEKS
Melanie McQuaid came out of the water behind only Christine Jeffrey and after passing her on the bike she never looked back en route to winning the XTERRA South Central Championship today.
Jeffrey was not only the first woman out of the water, she was the first racer out of the water with a swim-to-bike exit time of 20:17.
Having only started mountain biking a few years ago when she got into XTERRA you’d think Jeffrey might struggle on the technical trails at Cameron Park, but she did not – in fact, she held her own and kept McQuaid and mountain biking expert Shonny Vanlandingham at bay for some time.
“I felt good and I was clearing lines out there that I wasn’t able to pull off last year so I think it's safe to say I’m getting better on the bike,” said Jeffrey.
Meanwhile, the Arlington, TX native and reigning XTERRA World Champ Vanlandingham – who raced on these same trails when she was dominating the NORBA circuit before turning her focus to XTERRA – used those skills to post the best bike time at 1:13:41, about a minute-thirty quicker than McQuaid.
She needed another minute, because despite posting the fastest women’s run time she couldn’t reel in McQuaid who had a three-minute, 30-second advantage after the swim.
“I actually had a good swim for me and I had so much fun on that bike course,” said Vanlandingham, who could be seen grinning from ear-to-ear at several different spots in Cameron Park today.
“Some of those whoop-turns I took weren’t the fastest route but they were the most fun, and it only cost a second so was worth it. This atmosphere out here with the crowd and the music and the local host families all coming out is just a blast.”
That sentiment was shared by everyone, including McQuaid who got to walk away with a gigantic belt buckle as a special prize from the local hosts.
“This place is so fun with the DJ out in the forest and all the cheering. Plus, the course is so interesting, it just never stops twisting and turning and going up-and-down," said McQuaid, who won back-to-back races on the XTERRA America Tour for the first time since ’09.
"And that belt buckle, I saw that yesterday and wanted it. I was thinking about the buckle,” smiled McQuaid (pictured with the buckle)
The top three – McQuaid, Vanlandingham, Jeffrey finished in the same order as last week at the XTERRA West Championship in Vegas.
Suzie Snyder had a solid all around day to finish in fourth with Emma Garrard right behind in fifth.
First-year pro Jessica Noyola had her best race with a sixth-place finish, and Tracy Thelen rounded out the money spots in seventh. In her first U.S. race as a pro the 46-year-young Caroline Colonna from New Mexico was less than thirty seconds from finishing in the money.
TOP PRO WOMEN
STOLTZ/MIDDAUGH + McQUAID LEAD 2011 XTERRA U.S. PRO SERIES AFTER TWO
Conrad Stoltz got his No. 1 back by virtue of winning today. Although Stoltz and Middaugh are tied with 190 points as both have won and finished second, the tie-breaker for number assigning purposes is finishing position in the last event. Branden Rakita, Nico Lebrun, and Seth Wealing are a tight 3-4-5. In the women’s standings McQuaid is perfect, and for only the second time in her career she’s won the first two races in the Pro Series (in 2009 she won five straight Cup races to start the year). Here's a look at the standings after two:
2011 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Standings (after 2)
The top 15 pros at each event are awarded points based on overall pro finish. Pros count their best five-of-six 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 five scores in the first six 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 $143,000 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.
Next up: Race number three in the Pro Series - the inaugural XTERRA Pacific Championship in Santa Cruz, California on May 15.
April 10 - XTERRA West Championship (Lake Las Vegas, NV)
In the age group race Tom O’Brien from San Diego, California (pictured) edged Waco’s own Rowdy Hurst by just over a minute, while in the women’s race Kim Baugh from Colorado Springs won the 30-34 division for the second straight week, and was the overall amateur winner this time as well. Baugh won the 25-29 XTERRA World Championship title back in 2006. Here’s a look at all the XTERRA South Central Championship age group champions:
XTERRA SoCentral Champs (Female)
XTERRA South Central Champs (Male)
XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS
In addition to the age group champions listed above, these racers qualified for the October 23, 2011 XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua Resort in Maui by virtue of their performance today:
ALSO QUALIFYING FOR XTERRA WORLDS
Previously Qualified: Kim Baugh (30-34), Tamara Tabeek (50-54), Todd Gottfried (45-49), Tom O'Brien (35-39), Isaac Smead (30-34),
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