XTERRA National Champs, Continued

Last week we met about half of this year’s XTERRA age group National Champions, here we’ll introduce you to most of the rest…

Anne Gonzales (52, Aspen, CO) 50-54 Champ – 3:29:50

Since Anne Gonzales turned her focus to XTERRA two years ago there’s been no stopping her.

In July of last year Gonzales finished seventh overall ahead of several pros at the Mountain Championship in just her second XTERRA ever.  Then she won the USA and World Championships and now she’s a national champ for the second time in as many years.

This year’s title didn’t come easy, however…  “I had a slow swim so I had to charge on the bike and felt really strong. Getting through traffic was going well until my chain broke at the beginning of the Sardine Trail.  Fixing that chain took forever. I tried to fix it fast which only took longer- lesson learned!  I had to take a deep breath, fix the chain and continue on my mission which was finishing first in my division.  I had Maui on my mind,” said Gonzales.

Gonzales, who has spent the last 25 years on the ski patrol on Aspen Mountain, dedicates the race to her son Eric and new grandson Noah.

“The day before leaving for Snowbasin, Erik had ACL and meniscus surgery.  Thinking about him not being able to do much and me out there whining about a chain puts thing in perspective. My grandson just makes me smile.”

Matt Balzer (32, Reno, NV) – 30-34 CHAMP – 2:49:50

Matt BalzerMatt wasn’t just the fastest amateur in the 30-34 division, he was the fastest of all amateurs.  Balzer, a former pro who know dedicates more time to his 5-month-old, 8-year-old, wife, and business than training, still managed to finished 12th overall and more than a minute in front of young gun Cole Bunn.

“My day went amazingly well,” said Balzer. “I had a great swim, second out of the water, and passed the swim leader in T1.  I had a strong bike, even though it was incredibly tough, which allowed me to stay in the lead all day.”

Balzer did his first XTERRA back in 2007, but said the USA Championship was his best, and proudest triathlon result.

To make the weekend even sweeter his wife Aimee won the 30-34 division XTERRA Trail Run National Championship the next day.

“Congratulations to all the competitors, getting out and following your active lifestyle dreams is an amazing accomplishment,” said the owner of the Reno Running Company.  Next up: the family will take to the trails of Kapalua at XTERRA Worlds.

Kathy Frank (Santa Cruz, CA) – 65+ CHAMP – 7:02:40

Kathy Frank, who has been racing XTERRA for more than a decade now, won her fourth XTERRA National Championship last Saturday.

Here she talks about how her day unfolded…

“My day was really not great,” she explained. “The swim was long, so I was a bit worried about getting to the bike cutoff in time.  Then, about one third of the way up the canyon, my chain jammed so badly, I couldn’t budge it.  I was sidelined for about 30 minutes trying to pull it out.  A guy stopped and helped, but he couldn’t budge it either.  Fortunately my friend Roger Kern came along (so glad he’s a slower swimmer than I am!) and tried, but commented that it would take a long screwdriver to get the chain released.  I was already in tears at that point, and said “Who on earth would be carrying a long screwdriver on this course!”  Well, wonder of wonders, ROGER HAD ONE!!  We worked for about 15 more minutes, and finally got the chain unhooked!!  I finished the bike course barely in time to do the run.  My total time was probably the WORST time I’ve ever had, but I was grateful for Roger’s help (and the other guy, whoever he may be).   I was so happy to be off the bike and on the run that I decided I would run down a few people.  It was nice to have some company, and I was very happy to catch Ron Hill.  What a day!  I would like to dedicate this race to Roger, without whose help I never would have finished.  He is truly a good friend!”

John Mezger (36, Parker, CO) – 35-39 CHAMP – 2:53:57

John MezgerMezger just finished up a New Zealand law degree and will complete the NZ version of the bar in five weeks, “oddly enough, I really enjoy tax law,” he said.

He also enjoyed his first trip to Ogden this year.

“Loved the entire course, particularly the bike, it’s great to have so much single track and good solid climbing to go with a some rough down hilling.”

It came down to the bike for the title too – as Mezger had the best split in his division and it’s where he pulled away from runner-up Bryce Phinney.  Mezger finished 18th overall, and fourth amateur.

“I’m just happy that I didn’t blow up, and that I got a chance to glance over the ridge and look down at the reservoir,” said Mezger.

Hannah Rae Finchamp (17, Altadena, CA) – 15-19 CHAMP – 3:14:51

It was a banner year for Finchamp as she celebrated winning the ENVE Performer of the Year award on the eve of the USA Championship, then went out and won her division … again.

Here she tells us how the day went down…

“This was my third time competing in the USA XTERRA Championship and I must say, every race with XTERRA brings new experiences.  My plan for this race was to go for broke.  I felt great on the swim and was able to exit the water with many of the pros and as the first amateur woman.  On the bike I said my prayers and hoped for the best powering up the hills.  One of the pros even took my wheel to get a draft for a few miles of the race.  This is one of the things I love about XTERRA: the pros and amateurs race at the same time which creates an atmosphere for someone like me, that aspires to be like them one day in the future, to witness their skills and expertise first hand and in the moment.  I held the first amateur spot until mile three on the run when it became evident 3rd overall and 1st in my age group was where I would happily finish. It was such a thrill to see some of the strongest fields ever come out to race!  Right now, as competitive as I am, I am really trying to capture the moment of each race because I know that if I have anything to do with it, I still have decades of hearing Dave set off the cannon.  I can assure you, with my 2013 ENVE Performer of the Year award on the self (thanks XTERRA!), a fire is under my seat and I’m counting down the days until worlds!  See ya’ll in Maui!”

Laurence Goddard (65, Los Alamos, NM) 65-69 CHAMP – 4:15:48

Dr. Goddard (physician, internal medicine) has been racing XTERRA for a decade but had never done better than fifth.

“My goal this year was to get in the top three, so winning it was great,” said Goddard, who noted he had a mistake free race except for one fall on the run.

“With half-mile left in the run I was thinking I might win it and took my mind off the trail … and fell flat on my face.”

Goddard dedicated the win to his wife “who has put up with my training and racing schedule for the last two years” and said the real “win” is being healthy enough to do this difficult sport.

Elizabeth Gruber (23, Redding, CA) – 20-24 CHAMP – 3:11:13

Liz Gruber, a pre-nursing student at Loma Linda, won the 20-24 XTERRA World Championship last year but says winning nationals was her best triathlon result of all-time.

“The race was a blast.  I felt stronger than I usually do in the swim which set me into the bike with confidence.  The only woman who passed me during the bike, a pro, was just out of T1.  This was a huge boost because last year a lot of women passed me.  I focused on steady strong efforts up the climbs and let it fly on the descents.  I ran out of T2 feeling strong and on a mission.  I focused on staying relaxed, keeping good form and my turn over high.  I ran with Julie, the eventual 2nd overall amateur female, a while early on in the run and caught up to Hannah Rae near the 2nd aid station.  At this point, I thought I could be in first but I wasn’t sure.  I laid down everything I had on the last couple miles of downhill and was ecstatic about my finish.  It was a joy to soak up the rest of the day with my XTERRA friends and their happiness for me made my achievement that much more special,” said Gruber.

Gruber dedicated the win to her Mom and Dad, saying that “without their support and belief in my decisions and aspirations I would never be able to race at the level I am.”

She also said the day wasn’t all perfect, “Somebody’s fingers jabbed into my mouth in the first 200 meters of the swim…but hey, that’s better than getting your goggles smacked off!”

Gruber, who did her first XTERRA at Vashon Island last summer and is now looking forward to defending her World Title in Maui, said she’s hooked on the sport.

“Triathlon is the best sport and XTERRA is my favorite type of racing.  From the beginners to the pros, everybody swims, rides, and runs the same course.  It is equally brutal to every sweaty body that crosses the finish line, no matter if you’re finished in two hours or six.  Everyone is equal and especially in XTERRA, everyone is on the same team.  I want to shout out to all my XTERRA friends!  The old and the new, you are my XTERRA family and make it my favorite type of racing and keep me coming back for more.   I love you guys!”

Andrew Duenow (48, Anchorage, Alaska) – 45-49 CHAMP – 3:08:54

Andrew DuenowFor Andy Duenow, who has been involved with XTERRA since helping to put on the Hammerman off-road tri back in 2001, the win came down to teamwork.

The Alaska-crew has always been a tight knit bunch but never was it so apparent than in Utah this year as Duenow and his training partner Fred West pushed each other to the top two spots in the division.

“The biggest advantage I had on the day was being able to work together with my training partner and second place finisher in my age group, Fred West,” said Duenow.  “Racing with someone you know, who is so close in ability, allows you to push that extra bit together and really work a bit above what you might by yourself, while not blowing up.  It gave us confirmation of our efforts and pace, as sometimes it can be a challenge to stay in your game when others might be going harder or easier than you should and you can get caught up in “their” race.  We were able to motivate each other the entire bike leg and were together all the way through mile three on the run!  There were certainly parts where I would have backed off if it weren’t for Fred, and I’m sure I helped keep Fred pushing through as well.”

The stay-at-home Dad/Triathlon Coach/Race Director dedicated the win to his family.

“My wife, Jeannette, tolerates my addiction and we make a great team in life!  My boys, Reece and Tasman are at the age where they are getting out with me to play, and I hope to set a good example of an active lifestyle for them to follow,” said Duenow.

Next up; Maui.  “I’d love to keep the momentum going, but I know that some guys were missing from Utah, and there are some crazy strong Europeans that will be hard to compete with!  I’ll give it my all and have a blast doing it though, so we’ll see what happens!  I’ll have Fred there again to hammer with, so I’m stoked to come out and play!”

Katharine Wilson (27, Vail, Colorado) – 25-29 CHAMP – 3:27:37

Wilson is in just her second season of racing XTERRA but is already among the best in the U.S.

The biomedical engineer said she “had a great day. It was so beautiful out. After floundering through  the swim, I took the lead near the beginning of the bike course and there was no looking back.”

Wilson had the second best swim and the fastest bike and run times in her division by far to take the tape more than 12 minutes ahead of the runner-up.

She dedicates the win to her boyfriend Paul, “who has put up with all my training hours and pre-race emotions!”

Craig Vogstberger (38, Olney, IL) – PC CHAMP – 3:43:11

Craig Vogstberger won his third national championship in Utah last Saturday, but it wasn’t easy.

“My day was rough,” said Vogstberger.  “Most interesting thing, as usual, were the issues and problems with my disabilities. At mile three on the run, I started having trouble breathing and moving my left side, due to my Closed Head Injury, Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury, and Nervous System injuries.”

While serving in the Army National Guard in 2001 Vogstberger was crushed between two Humvees, resulting in a mess of injuries that he deals with to this day (read more on Craig’s story here).

Vogstberger has been an inspiration to the XTERRA Tribe since 2008, and a true living example of never giving up.  He dedicated this year’s title to his Dad, saying “it is the first U.S.A. Championship he didn’t attend. He recently had a severe medical condition that required surgery and will have surgery again late October.”

Our thoughts are with you and your family Craig.

Maia Ignatz (33, Boulder, CO) – 30-34 CHAMP – 3:21:11

Fourth time was a charm for Maia Ignatz, who was 3rd in 2009 and 2011, and 2nd last year at Nationals.

“It was a good day for me,” said the massage therapist and foundation training instructor. “I think it was slightly warmer in the morning than in years past and that really makes a difference for me, especially coming out of the water and riding up the cold, shadowy canyon. The swim was unexpectedly long, and as a non-swimmer, I just hoped that I could hang in there for that long and still feel good for the remainder of the race! The bike went well for me. I road nice and steady out the road and up the canyon, and eventually found myself with a great couple of men who were riding the same pace. We stuck together and kept each other motivated. Towards the top of the 2nd climb and switchbacks, my little group caught up to Debby Woodbury Sullivan and sat in behind her through the descent. As we came out of the descent, I decided to go for it and pass Debby (3rd in my age group that day). Pleased with my ride, I was excited for the run, probably my strongest leg. I managed to jog up the 1st climb, walking for only about 15 sec up the steepest section, and then pushed it the best I could all the way through to the end. I had a good feeling that I had taken the lead when I passed Megan Sheridan (2nd in my age group that day) maybe half way through the run, and she told me that there were only a few female age group athletes ahead. At this point, I was feeling pretty good and just stuck with a nice steady pace to the finish.”

Ignatz finished as the fourth amateur overall, and dedicated the race to her Uncle Doug who passed away “far too soon.”

Maia will now head to Maui and try to regain the XTERRA World Championship title she won in 2011.  Of note, her husband Ryan is a long-time XTERRA pro who finished 10th overall at nationals.

“I am so grateful for my amazing, adventurous life and I love being part of the XTERRA family.”

John Royson (60, Albany, CA) 60-64 CHAMP – 3:27:21

Royson won his first of three XTERRA World titles in 2000 and now 13 years later he’s a national champion.

“Almost knocked myself out at the start of the swim on a channel buoy, then I thought my front tire was going flat from the start of the ride, but still somehow led from the gun,” said Royson.

Royson had the best swim and bike times in his division and crossed the line nearly 10 minutes ahead of the runner-up Michael Orendorff.

Maui Preps to say Aloha to World’s Best Endurance Sports Athletes

The 18th edition of the XTERRA World Championship on October 27 at Kapalua, Maui will feature one of the greatest collections of elite athletes in event history.

There are more than 70 pros representing 20 countries on the tentative pro start list including some of the biggest names from the XTERRA, ITU, 70.3, duathlon, winter triathlon and mountain bike racing scenes.  Of note, every pro on the start list qualified for Maui by racing in at least one XTERRA major this season.

Josiah MiddaughWith last year’s winner Javier Gomez not on the start list, the “favorites” focus shines on XTERRA icons Conrad Stoltz and Josiah Middaugh.  Stoltz has won an unprecedented four XTERRA World titles and captured his third straight ITU Cross Tri World Championship this summer.  Middaugh, who finished 2nd place less than a minute behind Gomez at Worlds last year, won the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series crown this season.

Leonardo Chacon from Costa Rica upset both Stoltz and Middaugh to win the USA Championship race in Utah last month and was fourth in Maui last year.  2008 XTERRA World Champ Ruben Ruzafa and XTERRA European Tour champ Hector Guerra represent the hopes of Spain.

Ben Allen won more World Tour championships than anyone this year with seven.  Dan Hugo makes his return to the Kapalua course where he was just seconds shy of winning the 2011 crown.  Brent McMahon is a speedster who’s finished in the top six four times, including a pair of 3rd-place showings.

There’s a cast of experienced Euro Tour stars in the mix including Yeray Luxem, Asa Shaw, Nico Lebrun, Olivier Marceau, Felix Schumann, and Kris Coddens.

Among all the heavy hitters two XTERRA World Championship first-timers stand-out, Olympians Courtney Atkinson from Australia and Richard Murray from South Africa.  Both won their home country XTERRA Championship races and bring world-class speed to the sandy shores of Maui.

The field is just as deep for the women although the “Scottish Rocket” Lesley Paterson, with her two world titles and seven straight XTERRA victories, is clearly the woman to beat.

The reigning and two-time XTERRA European Tour champ Helena Erbenova got the best of Paterson at ITU Cross Tri Worlds this summer, but Paterson wasn’t 100% for that race.  And last year in Maui Erbenova was shackled with an injury that kept her from her best.  Here’s to hoping both are in great shape on October 27.

Barbara Riveros was just 2nd to Paterson at the USA Champs in Utah, and was 2nd in Maui last year as well.  Heather Jackson is the top American female returner, she placed 4th last year and was the runner-up at 70.3 Worlds last month.  Emma Garrard was the top American at the USA Championship last month, finishing fourth behind only Paterson, Riveros, and Chantell Widney.

This will be the first Maui attempt for Widney, who was 3rd at the ITU Cross Tri Worlds this year. She’s part of a Canadian contingent that will be in full force with 3x XTERRA World Champion Melanie McQuaid, two-time runner-up Danelle Kabush, Brandi Heisterman, Christine Jeffrey, and Katie Button.

Jacqui Slack and Renata Bucher won four XTERRA World Tour races a piece this year, and are joined by fellow Euro Tour star Kathrin Muller.

The U.S. can pull for its last two national champions – Shonny Vanlandingham and Suzie Snyder; while other notables include Nicky Samuels, Liz Orchard, and Sarah Backler from New Zealand and Carla Van Huyssteen from South Africa.

2013 also marks the return of three-time World Champ Julie Dibens, who dominated from 2007-2009.  Indeed a regal field with Dibens, Paterson, Vanlandingham, and McQuaid accounting for every XTERRA World title since 2005.

More from Maui to come as we get closer to off-road triathlon’s greatest day…


(Place at last year’s WC) – Name, Country
(2) – Josiah Middaugh, USA
(3) – Conrad Stoltz, RSA
(4) – Leonardo Chacon, CRC
(6) – Brent McMahon, CAN
(7) – Asa Shaw, GBR
(9) – Yeray Luxem, BEL
(10) – Olivier Marceau, SUI
(11) – Nicolas Lebrun, FRA
(13) – Felix Schumann, GER
(16) – Felipe Moletta, BRA
(17) – Braden Currie, NZL
(19) – Brice Daubord, FRA
(20) – Jan Kubicek, CZE
(22) – Francois Carloni, FRA
(24) – Jim Thijs, BEL
(27) – Branden Rakita, USA
(31) – Jan Francke, CZE
(35) – Ben Allen, AUS
(37) – Will Ross, USA
Courtney Atkinson, AUS
Grant Bovee, USA
Kris Coddens, BEL
Chris Ganter, USA
Marvin Gruget, FRA
Hector Guerra, ESP
Fabio Guidelli, ITA
Dan Hugo, RSA
Ryan Ignatz, USA
Dennis Kruse, GER
Andy Lee, USA
Kyle Leto, USA
Jason Michalak, USA
Richard Murray, RSA
Ruben Ruzafa, ESP
Tim Snow, USA
Richard Stannard, GBR
Adam Wirth, USA

(Place at last year’s WC) – Name, Country
(1) – Lesley Paterson, GBR
(2) – Barbara Riveros, CHI
(4) – Heather Jackson, USA
(5) – Jacqui Slack, GBR
(7) – Renata Bucher, SUI
(8) – Shonny Vanlandingham, USA
(9) – Helena Erbenova, CZE
(11) – Elizabeth Orchard, NZL
(12) – Danelle Kabush, CAN
(13) – Melanie McQuaid, CAN
(14) – Brandi Heisterman, CAN
(15) – Katie Button – CAN
(16) – Caroline Colonna, USA
(17) – Tamara Donelson, AUS
Sarah Backler, NZL
Mieko Carey, JPN
Genziana Cenni, ITA
Laura Mira Dias, BRA
Julie Dibens, GBR
Emma Garrard, USA
Dunia Gomez, MEX
Christine Jeffrey, CAN
Kathrin Muller, GER
Nienke Oostra, DEN
Daz Parker, GBR
Nicky Samuels, NZL
Suzie Snyder, USA
Carla Van Huyssteen, RSA
Carina Wasle, AUT
Chantell Widney, CAN

Teens Keep Pace with Elites

If the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship was any indication, the future of the sport is looking very fast.

Mauricio MendezSeventeen-year-old Mauricio Mendez from Mexico City led the charge of teen runners with a fourth-place overall finish. His time of 1:21:19 is the best ever for any runner under the age of 20 on the Snowbasin 21K course. He is also the first runner under the age of 20 to earn a top-10 finish at the XTERRA Trail Run Nationals.

“It was awesome,” said Mendez, who recently graduated from high school and is looking to attend a college in Mexico. “This is a really hard race, and I was pushing the whole time.”

Mendez made the trip to Utah as part of his training for a bigger event in October – the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon. He will be a top contender for the 15-19 division, and maybe even for the overall amateur title at the race on Maui.

“For the future, my big goal is to be a pro triathlete, XTERRA of course,” he said. “And on the way, do a lot of trail runs. Running is my strongest thing right now, but I train hard in everything – running, swimming, bike.”

Thirteen-year-old Korey Shively from Madison, Alabama, also turned in an impressive performance in winning the 10-14 male division. His time of 1:41:39 was good for 34th overall, and would have placed him third among all runners under the age of 20.

“Toughest race I’ve ever run in my life,” said Shively, who is in the eighth grade at Liberty Middle School. “It was a very difficult course – lots of terrain, lots of hills. It was a great course for Nationals.”

Shively qualified for the XTERRA Trail Run Nationals by becoming the youngest runner to win two XTERRA Regional titles in the same year (Alabama and Georgia). He would like to add to his XTERRA collection of titles later this year at the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Hawaii. “We’re going to Hawaii and I really want to win there, too,” he said.

Reno Couple Pulls Off a Double Victory

The Reno Running Company in Reno, Nevada, is advertised as “a specialty running shop,” and the owners are certainly qualified to call it such.

Aimee BalzerMatt and Aimee Balzer own the Reno Running Company, and they took the weekend off last week to win a couple of national championships. Matt was the overall top amateur at the XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathlon on Saturday; the next day, his wife Aimee won the women’s 30-34 division at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. Both events were staged at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah.

Matt has been on the XTERRA triathlon circuit for several years, and once held professional status in the sport. However, this was his first USA Championship win for his age-group, let alone as the top overall amateur.

Aimee’s win was perhaps more surprising, as this was her first time entering the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. She placed ninth overall among all females in the race.

“He has been training very hard this season and deserved the win,” Aimee said of Matt’s performance. “I was really anxious for him. It makes a difference in the race when we have each other there, so I wanted to do well.”

Aimee’s victory is even more impressive when considering she gave birth to their second child just five months prior to this race.

“Indeed, we have a 5-month-old little baby and an 8-year-old little girl,” Aimee said. “I think taking some time off from training during pregnancy and adjusting focus away was refreshing and made me really motivated to get back to running. It’s also the only time in the day that is just for me, so I cherish it.  It really changes your world having kids and especially an infant.  They are my motivation!”

Aimee completed the 21-kilometer course in 1 hour, 52 minutes, 26 seconds. Because it was her first time on the trails at Snowbasin, she said she had no idea where she was in relation to the other runners in her division.

“The pack I was running with was all men so the only updates I received on placement were from spectators on the course,” she said. “I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly knew there was tough competition.  I was very humbled to hear I won my age group.  That’s the first win I’ve had post-baby so it makes the time spent away from my family to train, worth it.”

The Balzer’s victories were obviously a team effort, as they often rotate shifts to train, take care of the children, and work at the store (not to mention that they also own another business that deals with mailing and shipping).

“Since we both compete athletically, we are both really supportive when it comes to making sure we find the time to train, too,” Aimee said. “Although, some days are harder than others and training must take the back seat.  But that’s okay because the baby is growing faster than lightning and I don’t want to miss a thing!”

Lebrun Wins First XTERRA Trail Run Title

Nicolas Lebrun is nicknamed “The Professor” and he figured out a way to win an XTERRA National Championship last weekend.

Lebrun SnowbasinLebrun is best known as a former XTERRA World Champion triathlete, and a two-time former winner of the XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathlon. Now he can add XTERRA Trail Run National age-group champ to his list.

After an eighth-place showing in the pro division of this year’s XTERRA USA Championship triathlon on Saturday, he came back the next day to place 12th overall at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship. It was also good enough for first place in the men’s 40-44 division.

“I can’t say that I expected this, I entered this with no expectations,” said Lebrun, who is from Digne, France. “I knew I was not in top shape this year to win the triathlon, so I looked at this weekend as a training weekend and I decided to try the triathlon and the (21K) run.”

Lebrun was not the only XTERRA pro triathlete to enter both the USA Championship triathlon and the Trail Run Nationals on back-to-back days. Andy Lee from Texas placed 36th overall in the triathlon and then 17th overall in the trail run. He also happens to be in the men’s 40-44 division, and thus placed second to Lebrun.

Also of note, Tamara Tabeek from San Diego, California, placed first in the women’s 50-54 division for the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship one day after placing second in the women’s 50-54 division for the USA Championship triathlon. In 2012, she became the first competitor – male or female – to win XTERRA national titles in both the triathlon and trail run on back-to-back days.

Colorado Series Endures at Cheyenne Mountain

The XTERRA Marathon of Trail Races took place as scheduled this past Sunday at Cheyenne Mountain Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado. That was noteworthy in itself.

Colorado RunnerFlooding throughout the state of Colorado in mid-September damaged roads, homes and even took lives. Still, nearly 300 runners showed up to participate in the Marathon of Trail Races.

“The course was beautiful,” full-marathon course winner Alejandro Rocqu Venzor, told the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper. “You wouldn’t believe what happened here just a couple days ago.”


Race director Victoria Seahorn said volunteers and Cheyenne Mountain Park workers helped repair damaged parts of the course earlier in the week, and other parts of the course were re-routed to assure safety.

The event featured a 42K full-marathon course, a 21K half-marathon course, and a 5K.

Venzor finished the marathon course in 3:57:47, and was the only runner to complete it under four hours. Connilee Walter from Colorado Springs was an impressive third overall and the first female, finishing with a time of 4:29:32.

In the 21K, Dan Vega from Colorado Springs prevailed for the third consecutive year. His time of 1:32:26 was nearly three minutes faster than his time of last year. Rochelle Persson from Colorado Springs was the top female, finishing with a time of 1:50:03.


Champions Range from 9 to 75

Proving itself as a race for everyone, the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship crowned champions ranging in age from 9 to 75.

The Mackleer'sOn the young end of the spectrum, 9-year-old Jake Mackleer from Hampstead, North Carolina, became the youngest runner ever to complete the 21K championship course at Snowbasin Resort. His father, John, accompanied him along the race.

“Up the hills got a little tough, but on the flats and downhills he did pretty good,” John said.

Jake completed the course in 3:17:26, which included a sprint to the finish that allowed him to beat his dad by nine seconds. “Very proud of myself,” said Jake, who is in the fourth grade at South Topsail Elementary.

It was the longest distance that Jake has ever completed, and he did it for more than just himself. He raised more than $1,000 for the Pender County Humane Society in North Carolina.

“I’m so proud of him,” John said. “He worked so hard for this, and it really showed.”

The oldest national champion crowned at the event was 75-year-old Jesus Romero from Snellville, Georgia. It was his first XTERRA National title, and he entered it this year with his wife, Linda, who placed third in the women’s 60-64 division.

Among the females, the youngest champion was a familiar one – Kaytlynn Welsch. The 13-year-old from Alvin, Texas, was an impressive 14th overall among all females. She now owns two XTERRA National titles and one XTERRA World title for her age group. Kaytlynn and her younger sister Heather received national recognition in 2012 for their precocious running talents.

The oldest female champion was also a familiar name on the XTERRA Trail Run Circuit. Amy Galbraith from Venice, California, won the women’s 70-74 division for her fourth XTERRA National title. She also owns an XTERRA record-tying six regional titles from the SoCal Region.

Mr. XTERRA 2013 – Brent Bieshaar

What started out as a bucket-list idea turned into something much bigger for this year’s Mr. XTERRA award winner.

Brent BieshaarThe idea was to do an XTERRA every weekend of the entire season.  We’re talking about 23 races in 24 weeks, the lone break coming over Memorial Day when no XTERRA races were scheduled.  The odyssey was dubbed “XTERRA Across America.”

Now, there have been some pretty cool quests in the past, like when Will Kelsay went on a 12,000-mile XTERRA journey in a beat-up RV.

But every weekend …  all year?!

Nobody had ever done it, heck, the travel logistics alone could tie an intrepid traveler in knots.

Undaunted, the task master – a 48-year-old father of two from Colorado – scoured through the schedule and devised a fail proof plan.  Right!  Ever heard the expression “best laid plans of mice an men?”

Well, his first race of the season was cancelled a week before the event, and the trials and tribulations that ensued – delayed flights, bike fiasco’s, fires and foul weather, crashes, colds, aches and pains, sleep deprivation, and the tireless search for good sushi in strange places … only solidified his mantra.

Adapt and Conquer.

In between the races, he’d work.  A lot.  Despite traveling more than 40,000 miles and venturing to 15 states from coast-to-coast in a span of six months – he took just four vacation days from work.

And, what was the glue that kept the journey together you might ask?

Let’s start with Paula, his wife and part-time travel partner who’d help him pack, pen his journal, and support him every step of the way.  She was backed up by their two grown boys – Ryan and Danny – and an extended, sprawling, family network that would make the Brady Bunch proud.

Then there were his friends – lots and lots of friends, new and old from Cali to New Hampshire, from grade school classmates to college buddies.  But one stands out.

Don Young, his former high school teammate who is battling Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“His positive outlook and determination to make the most of his time made quite an impression on me” said Mr. XTERRA at the onset of the journey.

So he selected the Blazeman Foundation and the war on ALS as his focus through the odyssey, and helped raise awareness for the disease every step of the way, every chance he got, everywhere he roamed.

The Blazeman Foundation is a family-run non-profit named after the late Jon Blais, whose courageous battle against Lou Gehrig’s disease inspired a generation of triathletes when he became the first person with ALS to finish the Ironman World Championship in 2005.

His racing kit emblazoned with the logo “War on ALS” and the foundation saying “So Others May Live.”

At the finish line of every race, he did the “Blazeman role” – none more special than the role at XTERRA Renegade he did right alongside his good friend Don Young.

He raised thousands of dollars for the cause.  He raised hope for those touched by the disease.

For being the first racer to ever successfully race and finish an XTERRA every weekend of the season, for truly exemplifying the spirit of XTERRA – the challenge, commitment and camaraderie that is the essence of our sport, and more importantly – for being a genuinely great guy we are proud to honor Brent Bieshaar as this year’s Mr. XTERRA award winner.

Brent was recognized at the Night of Champions dinner Friday in Ogden, Utah on the eve of the XTERRA USA Championship, and after he was announced received a rousing standing ovation from the packed house – for a good 10 minutes.

Watch the video / Read the Deseret News story / Read his blog

Bieshaar has one more race – the XTERRA World Championship in Maui next month – it’ll be his unprecedented 24th XTERRA of the season.

Meet some XTERRA USA Champions

There was an XTERRA National Championship race in 25 different age group divisions in Utah last Saturday, and here we’ll meet some of the victors…

Ron Hill (76, Hayden, ID) – 76+ CHAMP – 7:07:43

Ron HillOh what a difference a year makes. Just 11 months ago Ron Hill was in a hospital in Hawaii with a broken pelvis, a result of a mountain bike crash on one of the last downhills of the XTERRA World Championship course in Kapalua.

It’s not an easy injury to recover from, not when you’re 30, definitely not when you’re 75-years-old.

“The recovery has been phenomenal, miraculous actually,” said Hill.  “I took it easy, did everything the doctors told me to do, to the letter.  I thought if I tried to push it and make a mistake and crack it again, I’d be in deep doo-doo.  So, I Iet it heal.”

He went from being prone in a hospital bed – to a wheelchair – to a walker – to walking unassisted by the end of February 2013.  It wasn’t overnight, it wasn’t easy, but it was done.

In April, Ron and his wife Bobbi (XTERRA’s most cherished volunteer) drove out to the XTERRA West Championship in Vegas just to help out.  It was during this trip, while taking the family dog out for a stretch that Ron started to jog, “just 50 feet back to the truck.”

By July, Ron was racing again, at the XTERRA Vashon Island off-road tri in Washington.  It took him a half-hour longer than the year before, but he did it and there was no pain.  Amazingly, there was really no pain the entire time after the initial accident.

“My orthopedic surgeon was amazed at my progress, downright giddy,” said Hill, who explained that the surgeon had told him he’d shown the best results he’d ever seen, and he was also his oldest patient.

In August, Ron raced at the XTERRA Wild Ride off-road tri in his home state of Idaho.  The bike is tricky, the distances are legit, and he made it.

Then, to get ready for the massive amount of climbing – at altitude – that the USA Championship course in Utah was known for, Hill started doing uphill sprints.

He did enough of those to prepare his body for one of XTERRA’s most grueling endurance challenges, and despite being worried about not making the cut-off at T2 on Saturday, he did.

“Bike came in as expected, right at cut-off, but I didn’t have anything left for the run.  I ran on some of the nice flat smooth stuff, but my body started telling me if I kept it up I wouldn’t make it so I settled into a nice fast walk. I started cramping at the end, but I made it.”

Yes he did, a national champion for the second straight year and the third time in his XTERRA career. Now he’s going to Maui, back for some unfinished business on the Kapalua course.

Cindi Toepel (62, Littleton, CO) – 60-64 CHAMP – 4:15:50

Cindi ToepelNobody does it better.  Cindi Toepel won her unprecedented ninth XTERRA USA Championship on Saturday, her seventh in a row and ninth in 10 years since 2004.

“I am very blessed to have the abilities to do these races,” said Toepel.  “I am also thankful that I can still pull off a win when I am not feeling 100%!  I’m trying to keep that Nationals win streak going since I have won every Nationals race I have started so far.”

Toepel was 10 minutes behind Jo Garuccio coming out of the water and said she didn’t take the lead until the first big climb out of transition on the run.

“I was not feeling great, the power and energy was not there.”

Still, she said some guy “told me I was crazy as he followed me on the downhill from Sardine Peak.  When he finally passed me on the two-track road going up the hill he gave me a very funny look!”

Toepel dedicates the win to fellow XTERRA ambassador Scott Scudamore, who was badly hurt in a mountain biking accident last weekend.

Michael Hagan (51, Colorado Springs, CO) – 50-54  – 3:03:40

He’s a retired military officer and an endurance sports coach so there was only one option for Hagan after a root caught his toe and sent him crashing into the dirt at mile four of the run.

“I got up and kept running before the pain set in,” said Hagan.  “It ended up being a moderate case of “dirt” rash on my knee, hip, shoulder, palm etc. It was pretty funny picking rocks out of my singlet during the remainder of the run. Fortunately, the wounds weren’t very serious and really didn’t affect my race.”

About a mile earlier Hagan had caught and passed Dennis Farrell – who was in the lead after posting the best bike split of everyone in the division.

“I was hoping I was still in the hunt coming into T2. I knew Dennis Farrell was in front of me. He is an awesome bicyclist. I just started running hard hoping he wasn’t too far in front and I could catch him. My hamstring cramped slightly at about 2 miles, which worried me more. But I caught Dennis at around 2.5 miles and the hamstring held in there until the finish.”

Hagan finished as the 9th amateur overall with a time that would’ve been fast enough to win the 20-24, 40-44, and 45-49 division too. It’s a landmark victory for Hagan, who has been racing XTERRA since 2010.  He dedicates the victory to his family “for all the great support,” to the athletes he coaches, and to his friends that train with him.

“My wife really helps motivate me (often by just making me work hard to keep up with her on runs) and so do my kids. I have tried to set a good example of living an active, healthy lifestyle for them and now they are making me proud. Our 15-year-old son is blowing away all my records in cross country and track and our six-year old keeps me on my toes,” said Hagan. “Also, I would dedicate the effort to the athletes I coach. I believe it is helpful to race myself and maintain current first-hand experience of the challenges they face and many of my athletes motivate me with the exceptional dedication and work ethic they show.  Finally, I would like to dedicate the race to my friends.  The social aspect is one of the most rewarding attributes of training, and my friends motivate me to train more and harder and we have a great time. Almost all of my best friends are fellow athletes.”

Catherine “Bradley” Richmond (41, Crested Butte, CO) – 40-44 CHAMP – 3:50:50

The 41-year-old Yoga instructor is in just her first-year of XTERRA racing, and enjoying every minute of it.

“It was so awesome to have the opportunity to compete in Ogden at Nationals,” said Richmond, who goes by her middle name Bradley.  “The race conditions were fantastic and it was so exciting to hear the helicopter and know where the pros were.”

Richmond was fourth out of the water but then posted the best bike split of women in her division to take a lead into T2 she wouldn’t relinquish.   Molly Obetz finished second in the division a little more than one-minute back.

“The day went really well.  I trained hard before the race and feel like the race was won the climb up Sardine Peak, just like Josiah Middaugh said it would at the XTERRA University clinic,” said Richmond.

The win is dedicated to Mike Preston, the love of her life who competed in the 40-44 division himself.  Now the two are headed for Maui.

“The bikini is packed!  The best local place to eat here has created the “Maui Tri” sandwich to help raise funds, and I have 22 hard core workouts between now and then.  So grateful and so psyched!”

Tom Monica (55, Thousand Oaks, CA) – 55-59 CHAMP – 3:15:44

Mark it XTERRA National Championship No. 4 for Tom Monica, who won his first one 10 years ago in 2003.

This year he defended his title against Dennis Brinson, who was the runner-up in the division for the second straight year.  Of note, Brinson out-ran Monica to win Worlds last year, and for sure we’ll see another rivalry race in Kapalua next month.

The director of process development for Amgen said “the day went pretty well. I got a good lead and never let it go. I rode well, and with some of the pro women as well as back and forth with Hannah Rae all day. The run felt hard, and I tripped and did a face plant at one point, but kept up a decent pace.”

Monica had the fastest swim of anyone in his division by far, putting more than six minutes on Brinson. He’ll have to do the same in Maui if he is to win his fourth XTERRA World Championship. He dedicated the win to his wife.

Lucia Colbert (55, Cordova, TN) – 55-59 CHAMP – 4:01:47

Colbert won the 55-59 division for the second straight year on Saturday, and is also the reigning XTERRA World Champ.

Saturday’s win was extra special for Colbert, a structural engineer practitioner who has been racing XTERRA consistently for eight years now.

“I dedicated this race to my two close family members who are battling cancer right now, and my 18-year-old niece who just last week took a few steps almost two years after a severe traumatic brain injury from a car wreck,” said Colbert. “There were a lot of prayers said out there.”

Colbert had the best swim and bike times in her division, and held off the speedy 7x National Champ Barbara Peterson on the run for the second year in a row.

Charlie Karstrom (26, San Diego, CA) – 25-29 CHAMP – 3:00:02

Karstrom had the fastest swim and bike times among the 20 racers in his division and held on during the run to defend his national title.  He was 7th overall amateur and more than 12 minutes ahead of 25-29 runner-up Chris Rodrigues.

Karstrom, who works in business development for Qualcomm, dedicated the win to his grandparents “who helped me buy a mountain bike last season so I could try out XTERRA racing.”

Rachel Farrett (45, Highlands Ranch, CO) – 45-49 CHAMP – 3:41:11

In just her first full season of racing XTERRA Rachel Farrett is a national champ.  The 45-year-old artist was third out of the water but posted the fastest bike and run times in her division and came in more than 17-minutes ahead of runner-up Christy Geyer.

“The weather was perfect for racing, and the run was harder than anticipated.  The terrain is very rocky and I twisted my ankles several times,” said Farrett.

Farrett dedicates the win to her “awesome” husband and her two boys – ages 10 and 12 – who “keep her life interesting.”

Julie Baker (36, Sonora, CA) – 35-39 CHAMP – 3:13:28

The soil scientist from Sonora, who was recently stationed in nearby Logan, Utah, posted the exact same finishing time as last year when she finished second in the division behind Genevieve Evans (now a pro).

This year that time (3:13:28) was good enough for the win – and the second-best time among amateur women.

Baker took a big lead out of the water and never looked back.

“Swimming is my strong point but I knew I was having a good race when I was playing leapfrog with some of the pros on the bike, instead of them just screaming by like usual, never to be seen again,” said Baker.

She dedicates the win to “Cathy, for her love, support, and cowbell-ringing encouragement; Brad, my number one human training partner; and Leika, my number one puppy training partner.”

Baker also wanted to thank the Paul Mitchell students for her “sleek and speedy new racing haircut!”

Kathy Waite, who had the fastest bike split in the division, finished 2nd.