2016 XTERRA World Champion Mauricio Mendez is preparing for a rematch against 2015 XTERRA World Champion Josiah Middaugh at the XTERRA Oak Mountain State Park off-road triathlon scheduled for May 20th in Shelby County, Alabama.
Last year in Alabama Middaugh came out of the 1.5-kilometer swim in eighth position nearly three minutes behind Mendez. Once on the bike he quickly worked his way into the fourth spot, then passed Branden Rakita and Karsten Madsen about two-thirds of the way up the big climb, but didn’t reel in Mendez until a few miles before the bike-to-run transition.
“It was really good racing,” said Middaugh at the awards ceremony after the race, flanked by Mendez who finished 2nd, Madsen who was 3rd, Rakita in 4th, and Kieran McPherson in 5th. “All these guys, I came out of the water behind all of them. And as I went by them on the bike I kept asking them ‘Where is Mauricio’ and they couldn’t tell me anything, just that they hadn’t seen him. I was working harder and harder the whole day, and finally caught him towards the end of the bike and it was just a battle on the run to stay a few steps ahead of him.”
Mendez even put up the fastest run split, but Middaugh held on for the win in 2:19:17, 11-seconds in front of him.
Of course, Mendez – at just 21 years of age – got the last laugh with the big win in Maui, and both of those two are off to fast starts in 2017. Middaugh just won his first race of the year at XTERRA Costa Rica last weekend, and Mendez won the IM 70.3 Texas title two weeks ago.
And the talent lined up for the fifth stop on the XTERRA Pan America Tour doesn’t stop with those two. Karsten Madsen, winner of XTERRA Mine over Matter and XTERRA Victoria last year, returns as well. Madsen was third last year. Branden Rakita, who was fourth last year and is currently ranked 2nd on the Pan Am Pro Series, is on the start list, as is XTERRA Thailand Champ Kieran McPherson (who was 5th last year). In fact, it looks like everybody in the top 10 from last year is returning, including Chris Ganter, Ian King, and others. Plus, Veit Hoenle from Germany, one of the top performers on the XTERRA European Tour last year, and Cedric Wane, the pride of Tahiti, will be in America to give the Pan Am Tour a try.
We previewed the women’s elite field for XTERRA Oak Mountain last week, find it here.
XTERRA Oak Mountain is an amateur qualifier for the 2017 XTERRA World Championship, a gold level XTERRA Pan American Tour stop and a 100-point level XTERRA America Tour championship race. XTERRA will also offer a shorter distance sprint race, an entry-level Xticer race, and 5, 10, and 21km trail runs.
The event will feature $15,000 USD in prize money for elite athletes, who will compete over a 1.5km swim, 30km mountain bike and 10km trail run. For amateurs, there will be 51 spots into the XTERRA World Championship – to be held October 29 in Maui – up-for-grabs.
Learn more and register at www.xterrapelham.com.