The top two XTERRA Tales of 2014. Trust that we only scratched the surface with this list. The XTERRA Tribe is filled with some of the greatest people on earth and we are humbled to provide them with a sport they can thrive in. Here’s to many more adventures in 2015!
DESANTIS. Our good friend David Desantis led the way on inspirational stories about XTERRA racers facing adversity and crushing all odds this year. He was diagnosed with Cancer last fall and the oncologist gave him 9-to-12 months to live. Not only did he beat those odds, he fought every day and found his way to the start line at XTERRA Worlds for the sixth straight year. To make it even sweeter he raced in Maui alongside his niece Rachael, a nurse who pushed him mentally and physically all year. His last batch of scans/MRI all came back negative, and he’s headed to race at the XTERRA Philippines Championship on February 8 to get 2015 started in style.
Read about more inspiring XTERRA racers in this feature; More than Just a Number
BRANORA. As in BRAd weiss, daN hugo, and flORA duffy. Really, each of the three are worthy of holding their own spot in the top 10 but in deference to the magic they created as a crew we’ll honor them all together on the top step of stories for 2014. It was the year of Branora for so many reasons. Duffy was dominant, capping a near-perfect season in the dirt by taking home the first world championship in triathlon to Bermuda. Hugo had arguably his best and most adventurous season ever – racing on six continents and winning majors on five of them. He won seven titles overall in 2014, including the inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship on the hallowed grounds of triathlon in Australia against two Aussie Olympians (Courtney Atkinson, Brendan Sexton), their best off-roader (Ben Allen), and the sports only seven-time world champ Conrad Stoltz. Weiss, meanwhile, established himself among the South African greats with a dozen top four finishes around the world, and a runner-up showing in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series. As individuals they were remarkable, as a group they were unrivaled. To add intrigue to this piece, Hugo announced his retirement from racing last week. We’ll have more from and about the Man in the New Year.
Honorable Mentions: Award winners Christoph Maury (XTERRA Warrior), Rob Ricard (ENVE Performer of the Year), and Craig Vogstberger (Mr. XTERRA) took home the trophies with amazing performances in 2014. Jody Mielke, the spirit of XTERRA in Australia, un-retired to crush it at the Asia-Pacific Championship. Surfing legend Sunny Garcia took his talents from the ocean to the dirt, and survived Maui. Men’s Journal called the XTERRA Mountain Championship (July 18, 2015) at Beaver Creek Resort one of the nine scenic triathlons that are “worth the trip.” Kathrin Mueller won six races in Europe to take the XTERRA European Tour title. The New York Times talked about XTERRA “Taking triathlons into the Wild.” Josiah Middaugh was the best in the U.S. yet again – humble and kind with a family first mantra – he’s an icon beyond all others. The Alabama AP Wire touted the news about the XTERRA Southeast Championship doubling as the 2015 USA Triathlon Off-Road Nationals (May 16, 2015). Paul Mitchell took on the title sponsorship of the XTERRA Trail Run Series. XTERRA TV went international with ESPN distribution of shows in Caribbean, Latin America, and Oceania. Brett Hales’ took a fun and curious route to XTERRA trail run stardom. Long-time XTERRA pro Adam Wirth retired “for love of the game.” Patrick Smyth doubled-up on XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, becoming the only other runner aside from Max King to win multiple titles. Eighteen-year-old Hannah Rae Finchamp won her fifth XTERRA World Championship in the 15-19 division and 4th National Title all while competing on the cross country, cycling, and swim teams in her freshman year at Lindenwood University. Cindi Toepel won her unprecedented 10th XTERRA National Championship in the 60-64 division while Steve Cole captured his unprecedented 14th consecutive XTERRA Regional Championship crown.