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.

ENVE Performers of the Year

ENVE Composites – makers of incredible wheels and components produced by riders, for riders – has its manufacturing facility and test lab in Ogden, Utah.

For the second straight year they sponsored XTERRA’s ENVE Performer of the Year award, which is presented at the Night of Champions dinner on the eve of the XTERRA USA Championship just a few blocks from their headquarters.

Hannah Rae FinchampSelecting just one racer out of the amazing collection of XTERRA amateur racers was a tough task, so ENVE was kind enough to give us some wiggle room this year and let us pick two – each awarded a sweet trophy and wheel set of their choice.

The men’s winner isAlex Modestou¸ a 27-year-old living in Washington, D.C.  Modestou won an unprecedented seven races this season and to make it even more impressive he captured the overall at five of those.  He is an aspiring pro who first raced XTERRA eight years ago shortly after graduating from high school in Iowa.

Modestou won the amateur title at the XTERRA East Championship in June where he was 10th overall ahead of several pros, and in July he came from the East Coast to test himself in the thin air of the Rockies and placed 9th overall – top amateur – at the XTERRA Mountain Championship.

The women’s ENVE Performer of the Year is Hannah Rae Finchamp. She’s 17 and in her senior year of high school where she is the captain of her swim and cross country teams, won the California mountain bike state championship, and all the while maintains a 4.4 GPA.

This year Hannah Rae won her division at every race she entered and finished a remarkable sixth overall behind only the top five pro women at the XTERRA West Championship, and she was 9th overall ahead of several pros at the Mountain Championship in July.  She’s also the reigning XTERRA USA and World Champion, and won the 15-19 division in Utah for the third straight year on Saturday.

XTERRA USA Championship Saturday

While most of the hype leading up to Saturday’s XTERRA USA Championship race has revolved around the pro races (which you can find here with picspress guidepreviewinterviewsroundtable) the age group race is just as intriguing.

With defending champ Neilson Powless not in the mix this year the men’s race is wide-open.  Neilson, along with his sister Shayna, did America proud this summer by representing the USA at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in South Africa.

In addition, two other favorites in the men’s race ran into misfortune this week and won’t make it.  Daniel Molnar from North Dakota – winner of XTERRA Pipestem and Iron Creek – was hit by a car on the road while biking and suffered five broken ribs, punctured lungs, a broken sternum, scapula and finger.

Bryce Phinney“The driver didn’t seem to notice me and hit me almost frontally. I survived probably only because he hit the brakes in the last second, skid to the left so I crashed into the right side of the truck,” explained Molnar, who said he’s feeling better know.

Alex Modestou from Washington DC, who won an unprecedented seven races this year and finished in the top 10 among pros at the East and Mountain Championships, will have to sit out due to illness.

“I’ve been working hard towards XTERRA Nationals all year,” explained Modestou.  “After missing it last season due to an injury, I am pretty devastated by my situation now.  I would like to throw caution to the wind, but I hardly have the physical strength to get through a shortened workday.  I’d love to simply partake in the XTERRA camaraderie more than anything, but my body just isn’t cooperating.”

A student of the game and a terrific writer (read his blog at www.alexmodestou.com) Modestou was kind enough to give us his thoughts on whom to watch for in the amateur races:

Bryce Phinney (above) – a 37-year-old propulsion scientist from Tucson, Arizona – has been at the sharp end of the amateur field for years.  He was second amateur behind only Neilson Powless last year, and placed 15th overall.

Cole Bunn – a 17-year-old from Bettendorf, Iowa (pictured top right) – won the overall at XTERRA Last Stand and Illinois Wild this year and was 5th amateur (20th overall) at last year’s USA Championship. His local paper wrote a great article on the rising star, read it here.

Daryl Weaver – a 40-year-old from Lititz, Pennsylvania – went mano-a-mano with Modestou all season, taking the first two meetings of the year before Modestou got hot. Weaver has been one of the sports most consistent performers over the last two years, winning his division at 12-of-13 races.

Brandon Mills – the 32-year-old from San Diego, California trains with the ‘Scottish Rocket’ Lesley Paterson and has the results this year to prove it. He finished 8th overall ahead of several pros at the West Championship in April.

Matthew Balzer – The 32-year-old from Reno, Nevada is a former pro and owner of the Reno Running Company.  Work and family life keep him busy but he still has the tools to race up front.

Others that should be considered among the favorites include XTERRA veterans Anthony Snoble from New York and Phillip Glenn of Nevada, Mathieu Signoretty from Washington who dominated in the Northwest this year, Rob Ricard from Maine, and Grayson Keppler from Texas.

FINCHAMP TOPS WOMEN’S LIST OF CONTENDERS

Hannah Rae Finchamp   Hannah Rae Finchamp, 17, from Altadena, California won her division at all five XTERRA races she entered this season and was the top amateur finisher at three of them.  The reigning XTERRA USA and World Champion finished a remarkable sixth overall behind only the top five pro women at the XTERRA West Championship in April, and was 9th overall at the Mountain Championship in July.

The senior at Maranatha High School is the captain of the swim and cross country teams, won the California mountain bike state championship this year, and all the while maintains a 4.4 GPA.

On the other end of the spectrum is Anne Gonzales, a 52-year-old from Aspen, Colorado.  A gardener during the summertime, Gonzales grew up on a swim team, picked up running as a way to stay fit while raising her two boys, and got serious about mountain biking about six years ago.  Last year in Utah she placed 10th overall, third amateur, and just a little more than a minute behind Finchamp.

Meghan Sheridan, a 34-year-old living in Salt Lake City, was 11th overall last year and fourth amateur, just seconds behind Gonzales.  Funny story, Sheridan wore a rafting wetsuit in her first-ever XTERRA here in 2010 and thinks she was pretty much the last one out of the water.  While her swim is still a work in progress, her bike and run are golden (she had faster splits than Hannah Rae last year). She was 10th overall (third amateur) at the West Champs and 2nd amateur only behind Hannah Rae at the Mountain Champs.

Others contenders include Elizabeth Gruber from California (the 20-24 XTERRA World Champion finished 9th overall, 2nd amateur at the West Champs) and Maia Ignatz from Colorado (who won four races this year and placed 7th overall, top amateur, at the XTERRA East Championship in Richmond).

There is no doubt we’ve left out some notables, with a field of more than 300 qualified racers from almost every state in the U.S. there’s just no telling who’s showing up hot on raceday.  We wish the entire field the best of luck on Saturday.

Find out how it shakes out this Sat., Sept. 21, at 9am MST on twitter @xterraoffroad #xterraUTAH and www.facebook.com/XTERRAPlanet

Inspiration Abound at USA Champs

There is no shortage of cool stories about inspiring competitors coming out of this year’s XTERRA USA Championship race.  Here’s a look at just a few of them;

Colin’s Hope:  Alissa Magrun, a 39-year-old from Austin, Texas, is competing for a higher purpose.  Alissa is the Executive Director of Colin’s Hope and using this race to officially launch the newly formed Colin’s Hope Athlete Ambassador Program which raising both funds and awareness for water safety and drowning prevention. So far, she and her team have raised more than $65,000 and are just getting started.  The mission of Colin’s Hope is to provide life-saving water safety information to families and sponsor swim lessons for children who need it.

“The XTERRA US Championships is an incredible opportunity for me to not only race with some of the best athletes in the country but also allow me to bring the Colin’s Hope Athlete Ambassador program to the National stage,” said Magrum.  “Drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death for children under five in this country. This is my chance to marry my passion for off-road triathlon with my passion to prevent children from drowning. My hope is to qualify to race at the World Championships, but more importantly to raise awareness and funds for this cause- ultimately recruiting more people to join me as an Athlete Ambassador to prevent drowning.”

Learn more at www.colinshope.org

Willie StewartPhysically Challenged Athletes:  We have a great collection of inspiring athletes competing in the physically challenged division this year including “One-arm” Willie Stewart, a long-time XTERRA racer who has also conquered the grueling Leadville 100 mountain bike race, competed at the Ironman World Championship, and kayaked the Grand Canyon among other adrenaline-pumping adventures. Willie is joined by Michael Stone – a visually-impaired racer and XTERRA champion who will work his way around the course with the help of guide Kimberly Baldwin, the 40-44 XTERRA World Champ in 2011. We also have paracycling great Craig Vogtsberger, and racing in his first XTERRA USA Championship is Andre Szucs, a below-the-knee amputee.

XTERRA Ambassadors:  We have the greatest collection of amateur athletes on the planet sharing the Live More spirit far and wide and a ton of them are here in Utah.  Have a look at their pictures and profiles in this gallery, which represents about half of the 40+ ambassadors. Not included (but will be, promise guys!) are Lisa Brummond, Rob Butner, Kathy Couthino, Gina DeTolve, Amy Eck, Frank Fernandez-Posse, Todd Gottfried, Roger Kern, Brad Myers, Ron Olmsted, Julia Peck, Ken Robins, Meghan Sheridan, Anthony Snoble, Rob Spooner, John Lindros, and Adam Xaysuda.

XTERRA Across America: Brent Bieshaar became the first racer in history to complete an XTERRA every weekend over the course of the entire XTERRA America Tour regular season.  Twenty-two races in 23 weeks in 17 states across the country (his lone break was over Memorial Day weekend when no races were scheduled). Along the way Brent raised a significant amount of money and awareness for the Blazeman Foundation – a family-run non-profit named after the late Jon Blais, whose courageous battle against Lou Gehrig’s disease inspired a generation of triathletes. Bieshaar still has two races left on his docket – the USA Championship tomorrow and the XTERRA World Championship in Maui on October 27.  Learn more at www.XTERRAAcrossAmerica.com.

Emma Garrard and BabyPro Moms: There was a great story in the Deseret News this week about XTERRA’s Pro Moms featuring local favorite Emma Garrard from Park City and Canadian star Brandi Heisterman.  In the pro ranks here this weekend we have a bunch of inspiring pro Moms including Danelle Kabush, Caroline Colonna, Rachel Challis, and Chantell Widney (Kelley Cullen too but she’s not racing Saturday … because family comes first!). Read about the dedication it takes here.

Local Favorites:  Just a few years ago there were just a handful of racers from Utah that qualified to compete in the invite-only USA Championship race.  This year there are 30, proof that the XTERRA spirit has caught in the Beehive State.  Among the notables are young gun McKay Hunt from North Ogden, women’s age group contender Meghan Sheridan from Salt Lake City, and four pros – XTERRA veterans Emma Garrard and Nick Fisher, along with newcomers Heath Thurston and Tom Goth.  Here’s a look at all the locals racing for a national title tomorrow:

Madalyn Allred (Ogden, 15-19), McKay Hunt (North Ogden, 15-19), Jessica Septon (Ogden, 25-29), Emily Witman (Ogden, 25-29), Devin Hirschi (Park City, 25-29), Gerry O’Melia (SLC, 25-29), Spencer Peterson (SLC, 25-29), Mark Primosch (SLC, 25-29), Meghan Sheridan (SLC, 30-34), Brian Dobias (Cottonwood Heights, 30-34), Rick Henriksen (SLC, 30-34), Michael Nunez (SLC, 30-34), Julie Baker (Logan, 35-39), Eric Landon (Farmington, 35-39), Matthew Campbell (Park City, 35-39), Karen Holmes (Ogden, 40-44), Cori Biggs (SLC, 40-44), B.J. Leonard (Herriman, 40-44), Michael Raemisch (SLC, 40-44), Ryan Higginson (SLC, 40-44), Eric Tennant (West Jordan, 40-44), Cheryl Krusko (SLC, 45-49), Betsy Spiegel (SLC, 50-54), Carl Horton (Sandy, 55-59), Jo Garuccio (Sandy, 60-64), Emma Garrard (Park City, Pro), Nick Fisher (Ogden, Pro), Heath Thurston (Orem, Pro) and Tom Goth (SLC, Pro).

XTERRA America Tour Perfection

A record number of athletes, 27 in all, racked-up a perfect 325 points during the course of the 2013 XTERRA America Tour.  To score 325 points means these athletes won four races in their division, plus won their age group at one of the four regional championship events.

Alex ModestouOf those 27 only one man – Alex Modestou – won seven races, and to make it even more impressive he captured the overall at five of those.  Modestou is an aspiring pro who first raced XTERRA eight years ago shortly after graduating from high school in Iowa.  The 27-year-old, who now lives in Washington, D.C. working as a business analyst for GEICO Insurance, won the amateur title at the XTERRA East Championship in June (was 10th overall ahead of several pros) and was 9th overall in the thin air of the Rockies at the XTERRA Mountain Championship.

There were three men who won six races this year, highlighted by 11-time South Central Region Champion Kyle Grieser from Marble Falls, Texas.  Also of note, Marcus Barton won six-of-seven and George Mainas won six-of-eight.

For the women both Melanie Etherton and Cindi Toepel had perfect six win seasons, and Etherton won the overall at five of those.  Not to be out done, Toepel won the overall at XTERRA Iron Creek this year, at the age of 62!

Reigning XTERRA 40-44 World Champ Mimi Stockton had a stellar season as well, winning the overall at all five races she entered, including a head-to-head showdown with Etherton at the Southeast Championship.

Perhaps the greatest individual female performances this year were turned in by Hannah Rae Finchamp, 17, from Altadena, California.  She won her division at all five XTERRA races she entered and was the top amateur at three of them.  The reigning XTERRA USA and World Champion finished a remarkable sixth overall behind only the top five pro women at the XTERRA West Championship in April, and was 9th overall at the Mountain Championship in July. Finchamp, who has been racing XTERRA since she was 15 and has also collected several XTERRA Trail Run racing trophies, is just a junior at Maranatha HS in Pasadena.

Here’s a look at perfection, the “325 Club”(the names in bold indicate they are signed-up for XTERRA Nationals)
Alex Modestou (Northeast 25-29) A perfect 7-for-7
Kyle Grieser (South Central 30-34) A perfect 6-for-6
Melanie Etherton (South Central 35-39) A perfect 6-for-6
Cindi Toepel (Mountain 60-64) A perfect 6-for-6
Marcus Barton (Southeast 40-44) Won 6-of-7
George Mainas (West 25-29) Won 6-of-8
Mathieu Signoretty (Northwest 20-24) A perfect 5-for-5
Hannah Rae Finchamp (West 15-19) A perfect 5-for-5
Mimi Stockton (Midwest 40-44) A perfect 5-for-5
Roman Brown (Northeast 15-19) A perfect 5-for-5
Daryl Weaver (Northeast 40-44) Won 5-of-6
Charlie Dixon (South Central 45-49) Won 5-of-7
Alan Moore (Midwest 60-64) A perfect 4-for-4
Joshua Loren (Northeast 30-34) A perfect 4-for-4
Lucia Colbert (Southeast 55 -59) A perfect 4-for-4
Jim Meskimen (West 70-74) A perfect 4-for-4
Elizabeth Gruber (West 20-24) A perfect 4-for-4
Kara LaPoint (West 25-29) A perfect 4-for-4
Karen Brisson (West 45-49) A perfect 4-for-4
Barbara Peterson (West 55-59) A perfect 4-for-4
Ali Arasta (Southeast 50-54) Won 4-of-5
Bryce Phinney (West 35-39) Won 4-of-5
Tamara Tabeek (West 50-54) Won 4-of-5
David Desantis (Northeast 50-54) Won 4-of-6
Grayson Keppler (South Central 25-29) Won 4-of-6
Maia Ignatz (Mountain 30-34) Won 4-of-6
Michael McCluskey (Midwest 60-64) Won 4-of-7

Ogden / Snowbasin Celebrate 10 Years of XTERRA as Nation’s Best Unite in Utah

It’s long been said that XTERRA is more than just a race, it’s a lifestyle. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in Ogden, Utah where the Mayor, Mike Caldwell, was the founder of the first XTERRA race in Ogden back in 2004. Mayor Caldwell and a collection of the coolest locals to be found anywhere rallied the entire community to bring off-road triathlon to their hometown a decade ago, and are still everyday XTERRA people. They swim, bike, and run in the mountains, have fun, eat well, laugh, and unpretentiously perpetuate the sports’ motto – “Live More”.

XTERRA 10 Years“XTERRA is a unique event for our community that has grown and progressed over the past decade into a truly world-class event. It is a huge part of our community’s DNA.  These athletes and race organizers have become part of our family providing an opportunity for us to form lasting friendships with people from all over the world. Not only do I enjoy the homecoming feel the event brings, it also has great economic impact for Ogden. Our hotels sell-out and our restaurants fill up. XTERRA is proof that what GOAL is doing, works. I love XTERRA. It is the perfect fit for Ogden, and I look forward to this weekend every year knowing this year will be the best yet.”

XTERRA President Janet Clark couldn’t agree more, saying “There really is a love affair going on with XTERRA and Utah. The community is unbelievably supportive and the volunteers are amazing. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where people – with no affiliation to the race at all – have stopped me on the street to say thanks for bringing XTERRA to town.”

XTERRA is indeed coming to town, in a big way. Pros will race for $80,000 in prize money, dozens of cameramen will position themselves around Wheeler Canyon and the Wasatch Range to capture all the action for a nationally syndicated one-hour TV show, and more than one-thousand amateur athletes from nearly every state in the U.S. will come in pursuit of their dreams to race for an XTERRA National Championship.

The off-road tri Nationals is Saturday, Sept. 21, along with full and half-distance XTERRA Utah races open to everyone. The XTERRA Trail Run Nationals half-marathon is Sunday, Sept. 22, accompanied by 5K and 10K trail runs.  It’s important to note that you don’t have to be fast to join in the fun.  For some, it’s just about finishing and that’s okay as XTERRA is all about perpetuating the healthy, active, outdoors lifestyle.

In addition to the races XTERRA will host an expo in downtown Ogden on Friday with free kids races, vendor booths, a Paul Mitchell hair cut-a-thon for charity, and evening dinner parties. Then on Saturday from 8am to 10pm the streets shut down for a massive, community wide block party as Ogden hosts its 12th annual Harvest Moon Celebration with a wealth of family-friendly activities including live music, a farmer’s market, kid’s activities, arm wrestling, pumpkin decorating, downtown crit races, and fantastic fare from Historic 25th Street’s incredible restaurants.

There is great entertainment to be found at Snowbasin Resort as well highlighted by the spontaneous, ecstatic, and sometimes tear-jerking displays of emotion at the finish line.  While it is an epic spot for winter sports (think 3,000 skiable acres and 3,000 vertical feet) Snowbasin is also ideal in the summer time and when the Fall colors turn the mountain landscape into a kaleidoscope of colors, it’s simply spectacular.  See for yourself on Sunday by joining the XTERRA Nation on the Patio at Earl’s Lodge with Holy Water Buffalo playing music for the Soul, followed up by the Shook Twins playing Folk as part of the Resort’s free Blues, Brews, & BBQ Concert Series.

For more info and links to registration visit www.xterrautah.com, or call toll-free to 877-751-8880.

International All-Star Cast of Pros in Utah for XTERRA Nationals

This year’s XTERRA USA Championship race will feature 50 pros, making it the deepest and arguably strongest elite field in race history.

It includes everyone ranked in the top 10 of the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series minus only Will Kelsay, who was hit by a car while riding his bike a few weeks ago (heal fast Will).  It features three of the top four men and four of the top five women from XTERRA Worlds last year and collectively, this bunch has won 34 of the 48 XTERRA World Tour championship titles this season.

Josiah MiddaughWhere typically there are a handful of racers with a legitimate shot of winning, this year there are at least seven men and seven women who could be considered favorites.

Let’s start with the men.  Defending champ Josiah Middaugh has been on fire since winning his first USA  Championship in September last year.  He followed that career highlight with a 2nd-place finish behind Javier Gomez at XTERRA Worlds in October then pulled off three straight wins this year at the West, Southeast, and Mountain Championship races.  He’s a proven climber, and the Utah course suits his strengths with plenty of uphill on both the bike and run he can use to reel in the faster swimmers.

Interestingly, when Middaugh won the 20-24 national championship as an amateur back in 2002 he was quoted as saying, “excited to go pro, not sure if I can keep up with those guys now but realistically I won’t hit my peak for another 10 years.”

South Africa’s Conrad Stoltz seemingly hit his peak more than a decade ago when he won the first of his seven off-road triathlon world championships, but remarkably he keeps on getting faster.  After a bumpy start to the season – a crash causing a deep cut in his hand at the West Champs led to more problems and missed races – the “Caveman” crawled out of his cave and started clubbing the competition again.  Over the summer he won XTERRA Brazil, ITU Cross Tri Worlds for the third straight year, then XTERRA Italy all in a month’s time.

Two years ago his fellow countryman Dan Hugo took a minute-lead into the run at the USA Championship only to get chased down by eventual winner Nico Lebrun.  This year, Hugo has traveled extensively, logging a dozen races in nine countries – and has stellar results to show for it.  He posted six straight runner-up finishes at XTERRA World Tour races – starting at XTERRA South Africa, followed by the Philippines, Saipan, Guam, Malaysia, and the Southeast Championship in Alabama – before winning the East Championship in Richmond.  He was then third at XTERRA Brazil, 7th at the Mountain Champs, 2nd at XTERRA Mexico, and won XTERRA Japan last month.

The man with the most XTERRA World Tour wins this year is Aussie Ben Allen.  In addition to his dominance in the Asia-Pacific Series (wins in Philippines, Saipan, Guam, Malaysia, and New Zealand) he also posted two credibility-boosters on the Euro Tour with victories in Greece and just last week at XTERRA England.  He was second to only Middaugh at last year’s USA Championship.

Nico Lebrun, the “professor” of XTERRA who is retiring to focus on his “Organicoach” business next season, might have just one more lesson in store for his friends in Utah.  The 2005 XTERRA World Champ has won two of the last four USA titles, and took down a stacked field at XTERRA France this year.

To add intrigue, 2008 XTERRA World Champ Ruben Ruzafa from Spain is coming over to see how he stacks up against America’s best.  Ruzafa switched his focus from world cup mountain biking to triathlon this year, and realized immediate results with wins at XTERRA Spain and Germany, along with a runner-up in France.

It’ll also be exciting to see Leonardo Chacon – an Olympian from Costa Rica who placed fourth in his first-ever XTERRA at Worlds last year, then followed up by winning XTERRA Mexico in August.

Not to be dismissed are the regulars including Branden Rakita – fresh-off a career-best 2nd place finish at the Mountain Champs – and Ryan Ignatz, who had a career-best runner-up performance at the East Champs.  Locals can revel in having their own pro to cheer for in Nick Fisher from Ogden. He cracked the top five twice in his first-year as a pro.  Fisher founded the local Weber State tri team and has spent more time on these trails than anyone.

There’s also a huge amount of unknown with first-year racers and roadie crossovers like Grant Bovee, Guy Crawford, Heath Thurston, Tom Goth, Joshua Merrick, and Matt Mangen.

One thing is for sure, it’s going to be exciting to see it play out.

PATERSON TOPS WOMEN’S LIST

Lesley PatersonTwo-time World Champ and defending USA and U.S. Pro Series Champ Lesley Paterson leads the list of women’s contenders.  Since finishing third in Richmond last year the “Scottish Rocket” has won every XTERRA she’s entered, including the U.S. and World Championships last year, and the Philippines, West, Southeast, and East Championship titles this year.

Before Les came along the USA Championship belonged to three-time XTERRA World Champ Melanie McQuaid – who won four straight in Utah from 2008-to-2011.  McQuaid, who took the title at her hometown race at XTERRA Victoria this summer, has made a career out of showing up with her best stuff at the biggest races.

Yet another former XTERRA World Champ – Shonny Vanlandingham – finds herself back at the sharp end of the field having fully recovered from knee injuries that plagued her last year.  At 44-years-old Vanlandingham is still winning – most recently the XTERRA Brazil and Mountain Championships. Her fellow Luna Pro teammates – Suzie Snyder, top American and second in Utah last year, and Danelle Kabush, third last year – have been creating a blur of blue across the trails this year.

The well-traveled Jacqui Slack and Renata Bucher – with four XTERRA World Tour wins apiece this year – add to the depth of the women’s field. Slack just won XTERRA England last weekend, while Bucher moved her base-camp to Utah for some race specific prep with Emma Garrard.

The aforementioned collection of XTERRA stars will be up against a pair of ringers from the road world – Barbara Riveros and Heather Jackson – who are looking to upset the natural order of things.

Last October, Riveros was second at XTERRA Worlds and Jackson was fourth in what was the first XTERRA for both. Riveros, an Olympian and ITU standout, should be out front in the swim with Christine “Big Fish” Jeffrey, and proved she can mountain bike in Maui by posting the third-best bike split.

Jackson has had a remarkable season with wins at Oceanside, Alcatraz, and Wildflower and just finished 2nd at the IM 70.3 World Championships.  She has been mountain biking in Bend, Oregon, as part of her training regimen.

Others to look out for include Chantell Widney, winner of XTERRA Canmore and 3rd-place finisher at ITU Cross Tri Worlds, and Brandi Heisterman – who had a pair of 3rd place showings on the America Tour.

The mix of old and new, experience vs. youth, is creating a lot of excitement for this year’s pro races.  It’ll all come down to who can suffer best against the gnarly challenge that Mother Nature dishes out at the XTERRA USA Championship.

Find out how it shakes out next Sat., Sept. 21, at 9am MST on twitter @xterraoffroad #xterraUTAH and www.facebook.com/XTERRAPlanet.

XTERRA NATIONALS QUICK FACTS

WHO: More than 1,500 athletes from 45 states and 10 countries ages 9-to-76.

WHAT: The XTERRA USA Championship triathlon and XTERRA Utah short and long course tri’s are on Saturday, plus kids races, clinics, and Ogden’s annual Harvest Moon Celebration, and the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship half-marathon and 5k, 10k fun runs are on Sunday.

WHEN: Friday-Sunday, September 20-22, 2013
The XTERRA Expo is from 12 noon to 6pm on Friday in Ogden
The XTERRA USA Championship race starts at 9am Saturday
The XTERRA Trail Run Nationals race starts at 9am Sunday

WHERE: Ogden on Friday and Snowbasin Resort on Sat/Sun

WHY: Both the XTERRA Tri and Trail Run National Championship races are the culmination of 70-race nationwide series, that end with a best-of-the-best showdown in Utah.

TV: XTERRA TV is producing an hour-long, nationally broadcast television show on the USA Championship, highlighting Northern Utah as a mecca for outdoor adventure recreation.

WEBSITE:www.XTERRAUtah.com

LAST YEAR’S XTERRA UTAH TV SHOW:www.XTERRA.tv

TRAIL RUN NATIONALS HIGHLIGHTS:www.XTERRA.tv

TWITTER / HASHTAG: @xterraoffroad /  #xterraUTAH

XTERRA ON FACEBOOK: Facebook.com/XTERRAPlanet

XTERRA USA CHAMPIONSHIP TRIATHLON COURSE STATS:
Swim course: 1,500-meters (0.93 miles) Combines two 750-meter laps (no run in-between)
Elevation at Port Ramp Marina for swim start:  4,900-feet / Water temperature: Traditionally around 67 degrees
Mountain bike course distance: 28-kilometers (17.7 miles) / Total climbing on bike: 3,400-feet
Elevation at highest point: 7,300-feet (where Sardine Peak Trail meets the ridgeline)
Elevation at T2/Snowbasin Resort Lodge: 6,400-feet
Trail Run course distance: 10.4kilometers (6.47 miles) / Total climbing on run: 616-feet / Total climbing on course: 4,016-feet

XTERRA England to Determine Champs

The XTERRA European Tour season finale takes to the trails of Vachary Estate in the village of Cranleigh on Sunday, September 8. It marks the first time England has hosted a major since 1997 and it’s an important one with Tour titles and qualifying spots into XTERRA Worlds up for grabs.

Yeray LuxemWhile Helena Erbenova’s dominant mid-season five-race winning streak sealed the deal on her second straight European Tour championship last month, the men’s pro chase will come down to this.

In just his first full season of XTERRA 35-year-old Hector Guerra of Madrid has risen to the top of the standings.  With 427 points – the result of three runner-up finishes, a 3rd and 4th – Guerra controls his own destiny and a top five finish would net him the crown, and make him the first non-Frenchman* to win the Euro Tour since Royce Kortekaas of the Netherlands captured the inaugural title in 2003.

The other two with a punchers chance of winning the Tour title are Yeray Luxem of Belgium, 2nd in points with 391, and the reigning and four-time Tour winner Nico Lebrun who sits in third with 387 points.

As for the race itself, there are several legitimate contenders on the start list, especially when you consider how diversity has ruled this year’s tour with six different men winning the seven European majors (only Ruben Ruzafa has won two).

Of note, Lebrun won the last race in England back in 2007, and this will be his final European race as an XTERRA pro having announced his attentions to retire and focus on coaching next season (he’ll also compete at the USA and World Championships this year).

Lebrun, Guerra, and Luxem will be up against hometown hero and bike course designer Sam Gardner along with other British favorites like Richard Stannard and Asa Shaw; as well as Triple Crown and Greece champion Ben Allen and mountain bike guru Cedric Lassonde

The women’s race looks like it’ll be a great duel between the third and fourth ranked racers on the European Tour – Kathrin Muller from Germany and the UK’s own Jacqui Slack.  Slack edged Muller to win XTERRA Germany just a few weeks ago, they finished 2-3 in Greece (advantage Slack), and 3-4 in Spain (advantage Muller).

All the action from Sunday will be filmed and edited for broadcast at a later date on Ch4, Sky Sports, and Eurosport.  Here’s a look at the elite start list:

Pro Men: Sam Gardner (GBR), Nico Lebrun (FRA), Ben Allen (AUS), Graham Wadsworth (GBR), Paul Hawkins (GBR), Asa Shaw (GBR), Cedric Lassonde (FRA), Chris Carter (GBR), Yeray Luxem (BEL), Francois Carloni (FRA), Llewelyn Holmes (GBR), Ross Macdonald (GBR), Bryan Glynn (GBR), Richard Stannard (GBR), Hector Guerra (ESP), Matt Dewis (GBR)

Pro Women: Jacqui Slack (GBR), Kathrin Muller (GER), Eli Thorogood (GBR), Daz Parker (GBR), Natalie Barnard (GBR), Nienke Oostra (AUS), Brigitta Poor (HUN).

XTERRA European Tour Standings (thru 7 – pros count best six)

 

Elite Men ESP GRE SUI FRA ITA CZE GER TOT
1 Hector Guerra, ESP 75 90 82 90 90 427
2 Yeray Luxem, BEL 82 82 63 82 82 391
3 Nicolas Lebrun, FRA 69 75 100 90 53 387
4 Asa Shaw, GBR 82 69 45 69 63 328
5 Ruben Ruzafa, ESP 100 90 100 290
6 Cedric Lassonde, FRA 45 63 53 53 69 283
7 Francois Carloni, FRA 41 49 45 69 58 262
8 Ben Allen, AUS 90 100 69 259
9 Jan Kubicek, CZE 75 63 75 213
10 Jim Thijs, BEL 53 41 58 49 201
Elite Women ESP GRE SUI FRA ITA CZE GER TOT
1 Helena Erbenova, CZE 90 100 100 100 100 100 82 590
2 Renata Bucher, SUI 100 75 75 90 90 69 499
3 Kathrin Muller, GER 82 82 82 82 90 418
4 Jacqui Slack, GBR 75 90 90 100 355
5 Marion Lorblanchet, FRA 69 63 82 75 289
6 Carina Wasle, AUT 63 69 75 75 282
7 Brigitta Poor, HUN 58 63 58 53 49 281
8 C. Redelsperger, FRA 69 69 49 58 245
9 Nienke Oostra, AUS 49 49 63 37 45 243
10 Lenka Cibulkova, CZE 53 58 45 53 209

 

See complete European Tour Standings

Past XTERRA European Tour Champions
2012       Nicolas Lebrun (FRA) / Helena Erbenova (CZE)
2011       Olivier Marceau (SUI) / Marion Lorblanchet (FRA)
2010       Franky Batelier (FRA) / Marion Lorblanchet (FRA)
2009       Franky Batelier (FRA) / Renata Bucher (SUI)
2008       Nicolas Lebrun (FRA) / Renata Bucher (SUI)
2007       Nicolas Lebrun (FRA) / Eszter Erdelyi (HUN)
2006       Nicolas Lebrun (FRA) / Renata Bucher (SUI)
2005       Olivier Marceau (SUI) / Renata Bucher (SUI)
2004       Olivier Marceau (SUI) / Jamie Whitmore (USA)
2003       Royce Kortekaas (NED) / Jamie Whitmore (USA)

*Disclaimer: 3x Euro Tour winner and Olympian Olivier Marceau represents Switzerland but lives in France.

Bernd PannewitzAGE GROUP CHAMPIONS

While the majority of age group titles will not be decided until Sunday, there are several athletes who have already secured championships including Mathieu Wohlgemuth (FRA) 15-19, Jan Pyott (SUI) 30-34, Patrick Lictsteiner (FRA) 40-44, Bernd Pannewitz, pictured (GER) 50-54, Peter Naegeli (SUI) 55-59, Jean-Louis Moreau (FRA) 60-64, and Rebecca Kaltenmeier (GER) 30-34.

XTERRA Regional Champions Announced

The XTERRA America Tour’s 70-race regular season that stretched across the continental United States and into Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan came to a close on Sunday, and as such it’s time to recognize the regional champs.

All told, 159 athletes won a regional title this year. Winners are invited to race in the XTERRA USA Championship (along with other top age group finishers – see full qualifiers list here), and will be honored at the Night of Champions dinner at Union Station on Historic 25th Street in downtown Ogden, Utah on Friday, Sept. 20.

Topping the list once more is 2011 Mr. XTERRA and 55-59 division XTERRA USA Champion Steve Cole, a pilot living in Alpharetta, Georgia.  Cole remains the only racer in XTERRA history to win all 13 regional championships since the inception of the America tour back in 2001. He was the best age group racer in the South Central’s 45-49 division from 2001 to 2005, won the SC 50-54 division from 2006-2010, and just captured his third straight 55-59 division title.

While Cole is the only 13-time regional champ, Beverly Enslow of Metamora, Illinois is the most prolific female age grouper with 12 regional titles in the Midwest region.

Kyle Grieser, Barbara Peterson, and Cindi Toepel joined Casey Fannin with 11 this year, while Linda Usher and Russell Clark joined Kathy Frank in the double-digit club with 10.

Also of note, there are three athletes who won their region this year – a full 13 years after winning their region in the inaugural 2001 season: Steve Cole, Kathy Couthino, and Lorenn Walker.

Congratulations to one and all in the 2013 class of XTERRA Regional Champs!

VIEW REGIONAL CHAMPION LIST – PDF