Pelham, AL – Josiah Middaugh and Suzie Snyder took home the elite titles at the XTERRA Oak Mountain off-road triathlon in Shelby County, Alabama this morning.
The fourth of 10 stops on the 2016 XTERRA Pan America Tour had all the right ingredients … calm, clean, warm water to swim in, perfect racing weather, superb trail conditions, and great competition in both the amateur and elite fields.
Middaugh, the reigning XTERRA World Champion from Colorado, came out of the 1.5-kilometer swim in eighth position nearly three minutes behind Mauricio Mendez, the 20-year-old phenom from Mexico.
Once on the bike he quickly worked his way into the fourth spot, then passed Branden Rakita and Karsten Madsen about two-thirds of the way up the big climb, but didn’t reel in Mendez until a few miles before the bike-to-run transition.
“Really good racing,” said Middaugh at the awards ceremony flanked by Mendez who finished 2nd, Madsen who was 3rd, Rakita in 4th, and Kieran McPherson in 5th. “All these guys up here, I came out of the water behind all of them. And as I went by them on the bike I kept asking them ‘Where is Mauricio’ and they couldn’t tell me anything, just that they hadn’t seen him. I was working harder and harder the whole day, and finally caught him towards the end of the bike and it was just a battle on the run to stay a few steps ahead of him.”
Mendez even put up the fastest run split, but Middaugh held on for the win in 2:19:17, 11-seconds in front of him. For Mendez, who was fourth at XTERRA Worlds last year, the result proved his bike handling skills have improved dramatically.
“I know my weakest point is the bike and I’ve been working on it, and happy to see it improve,” said Mendez. “This bike course, I have so much respect for it. Two years ago here everybody was catching me, so today I pushed as hard as I could. When I saw Josiah coming behind me I lost my focus just for a few seconds and crashed into a tree.”
Middaugh took advantage and gave himself a little cushion going into the run.
“I knew I was close to Josiah and on the second lap I saw him in front of me, but he knows how to race. It’s amazing to race him,” said Mendez.
“It feels good when it’s a battle like that, it feels rewarding” said Middaugh, who won XTERRA Tahiti last weekend.
Behind those two Madsen and Rakita kept pushing each other on the bike.
“Things went really well today,” said Madsen, who had a bad crash last year that sent him to the hospital. “That was the lowest low-point for me, laying on a med tent, so my main goal was to dial it back a little and ride clean today. It worked out, it was a complete race for me and I’m really happy.”
Rakita was also pleased with his day, saying “It was good. Felt like I rode well all the way through so happy with that. On this course you really have to push the last four miles. Karsten and I were really close and that helped us keep pushing. I was happy with the swim, disappointed we couldn’t hold on to Mauricio’s feet, but he’s just got so much talent. I thought we might reel him in on the bike but his bike handling skills have really improved. He works hard. Then I ran as hard as I could, because I still had Chris and Cody behind me, so I was running scared.”
Kiwi Kieran McPherson had a solid day all the way around to take the 5th spot, just 14-seconds behind Rakita. He also won an XTERRA Wetsuit by chugging a bottle of Gatorade faster than a few dozen others in the post-race shenanigans.
Chris Ganter wasn’t too far off in sixth and Cody Waite returned to the XTERRA Tribe in fine fashion by finishing in the money in 7th.
|1||Josiah Middaugh, USA||2:19:17||100|
|2||Mauricio Mendez, MEX||2:19:28||90|
|3||Karsten Madsen, CAN||2:23:49||82|
|4||Branden Rakita, USA||2:25:20||75|
|5||Kieran McPherson, NZL||2:25:34||69|
|6||Chris Ganter, USA||2:26:34||63|
|7||Cody Waite, USA||2:32:18||58|
|8||Ian King, USA||2:35:34||53|
|9||Thomas Spannring, USA||2:36:56||49|
|10||Michael Nunez, USA||2:42:19||45|
SNYDER WIRE TO WIRE
Last year Suzie Snyder was in the midst of her best season as a pro, fresh off wins at XTERRA New Zealand and the XTERRA East Championship and the odds-on favorite to win XTERRA Mexico. Then she fractured her pelvis pre-riding and has been recovering ever since.
“It’s good to be back,” she said. “My first race back since July. It was a hard reminder on how hard this sport is but I couldn’t be happier to be back here racing again.”
Snyder had an incredible swim that was three minutes faster than the second-best woman, posted the fastest bike split, and had the third-best run to take the tape in 2:43:57, more than four-minutes ahead of runner-up Maia Ignatz.
“Hardest I’ve pushed myself since Beaver Creek last year, so it hurt really bad,” said Snyder. “I had a good swim. I’ve been swimming with Matt Balzer, and in a master’s class so my swim is improving and I needed that today. On the run I was afraid I went too hard. I went out too fast because I knew there were fast girls behind me and I didn’t want it to come down to a battle. I was trying to get out of sight.”
For Maia Ignatz her second-place finish was a career-best.
“I’m so happy. Thrilled with how things went today. I was able to stay upright, I rode well, I ran well, but I can’t say I swam well,” smiled Ignatz, who came out of the water in 4th but more than three minutes behind Snyder.
Kara LaPoint was third out of the water, passed Maggie Rusch early on the bike to move into 2nd and held that spot until but Ignatz caught her early on the run.
“I couldn’t hang on to Maia, she is such a good runner,” said LaPoint. “My goal was top three, and the race shaked out pretty similar to what I thought would happen. I’m happy with it.”
Debby Sullivan had a strong race all the way around to finish in fourth and XTERRA Brazil Champion Sabrina Gobbo rounded out the top five.
|1||Suzie Snyder, USA||2:43:57||100|
|2||Maia Ignatz, USA||2:48:12||90|
|3||Kara LaPoint, USA||2:51:25||82|
|4||Debby Sullivan, USA||3:00:31||75|
|5||Sabrina Gobbo, BRA||3:04:35||69|
|6||Caroline Colonna, USA||3:08:37||63|
|7||Sarah Gravves, USA||3:10:18||58|
|8||Rebecca Blatt, USA||3:15:14||53|
|9||Maggie Rusch, USA||3:28:05||49|
MORE QUOTES FROM THE WINNERS
Josiah Middaugh: “I’ve been coming out to Alabama for a long time. I love the park here, amazing trails, but it’s always a challenge. I’ve got a little bit of a love-hate relationship with this course. Broke my kneecap here one year, had to have surgery. Had a lot of ups and downs, kind of a roller coaster ride, and it’s always a challenge. Good to see all the XTERRA Warriors out here really pushing it on that bike course. It’s definitely a mountain bikers course.”
“People from team sports, running, biking or swimming, you just have to give it a try. It’s a whole lot of fun, and there is a lot of camaraderie out here.”
Suzie Snyder: “This is one of the best races in the world. I love this course. I think Oak Mountain does such a great job, such a beautiful venue.”
“The run course was tough. My run fitness isn’t great so I was running scared. It took a toll on me.”
“Crash knocked me out for eight months. I’m rebuilding. I’m finally at a point where I can train pretty strong. Couldn’t run until March. That’s been a huge challenge. I was trying to take it slow and focus on the swim and bike, and the run is what it is.”
“It’s scary to be chased. A giant target on your back and you don’t know where anyone is at. When you’re out there all alone you just have to go like hell.”
“It was a beautiful day. Humidity was low, sun is out, little clouds, perfect temps, didn’t overheat, it was a great day and I’m super happy.”
MIDDAUGH, GOBBO LEAD XTERRA PAN AMERICA TOUR STANDINGS
With two wins in Argentina and Alabama and a runner-up finish in Costa Rica Josiah Middaugh has a big lead after the first four races on the XTERRA Pan America Pro Series, and his next race will be in his back yard in Beaver Creek, Colorado in July.
In the women’s chase Brazilan Sabrina Gobbo has the points lead as the only elite women to have raced in three events. Racers count their best four scores plus what they earn at the XTERRA Pan American Championship race September 17 in Utah.
Learn more about the XTERRA Pan Am Tour at http://www.xterraplanet.com/xterra-pan-am-tour/
Here’s a look at the elite standings after four:
|2016 XTERRA PAN AMERICAN TOUR POINT STANDINGS|
|After 4 – 5.21.16|
|1||Josiah Middaugh, USA||267||67||100||DNS||100|
|2||Karsten Madsen, CAN||172||DNS||90||DNS||82|
|3||Ian King, USA||106||DNS||53||DNS||53|
|4||Mauricio Mendez, MEX||90||DNS||DNS||DNS||90|
|5||Jonatan Morales, ARG||82||DNS||82||DNS||DNS|
|6||Karl Shaw, GBR||75||75||DNS||DNS||DNS|
|7||Oscar Galindez, ARG||75||DNS||75||DNS||DNS|
|8||Albert Soley, ESP||75||DNS||DNS||75||DNS|
|9||Branden Rakita, USA||75||DNS||DNS||DNS||75|
|10||Lucas Mendez, ARG||69||DNS||69||DNS||DNS|
|11||Kieran McPherson, NZL||69||DNS||DNS||DNS||69|
|12||Felipe Moletta, BRA||67||DNS||DNS||67||DNS|
|13||Mario De Elias, ARG||63||DNS||63||DNS||DNS|
|14||Chris Ganter, USA||63||DNS||DNS||DNS||63|
|15||Rom Akerson, CRC||61||61||DNS||DNS||DNS|
|16||Diogo Malagon, BRA||61||DNS||DNS||61||DNS|
|17||Facu Medard, ARG||58||DNS||58||DNS||DNS|
|18||Cody Waite, USA||58||DNS||DNS||DNS||58|
|19||Francois Carloni, FRA||56||56||DNS||DNS||DNS|
|20||Bruno Silva, BRA||56||DNS||DNS||56||DNS|
|21||Federico Venegas, CRC||51||51||DNS||DNS||DNS|
|22||Frederico Zacharias, BRA||51||DNS||DNS||51||DNS|
|23||Mauro Ayesa, USA||49||DNS||49||DNS||DNS|
|24||Thomas Spannring, USA||49||DNS||DNS||DNS||49|
|25||Greg Schott, USA||47||47||DNS||DNS||DNF|
|26||Raul Furtado, BRA||47||DNS||DNS||47||DNS|
|27||Victor Arenas, ARG||45||DNS||45||DNS||DNS|
|28||Michael Nunez, USA||45||DNS||DNS||DNS||45|
|29||Henrique Lugarini, BRA||43||DNS||DNS||43||DNS|
|30||Parada Penagos, ARG||41||DNS||41||DNS||DNS|
|31||Eduardo Marcolino, BRA||39||DNS||DNS||39||DNS|
|32||Rodrigo Altafini, BRA||36||DNS||DNS||36||DNS|
|33||Stenio Bezerra, BRA||33||DNS||DNS||33||DNS|
|34||Rogério Paula, BRA||30||DNS||DNS||30||DNS|
|35||Ramon Bustos, BRA||27||DNS||DNS||27||DNS|
|36||Cristiam Suzin, BRA||25||DNS||DNS||25||DNS|
|37||Juscelino Vasco, BRA||23||DNS||DNS||23||DNS|
|38||Wellington Conceição, BRA||21||DNS||DNS||21||DNS|
|1||Sabrina Gobbo, BRA||205||61||DNS||75||69|
|2||Miriam Guillot-Boisset, FRA||175||75||100||DNS||DNS|
|3||Kara Lapoint, USA||149||67||DNS||DNS||82|
|4||Laura Mira Dias, BRA||149||DNS||82||67||DNS|
|5||Caroline Colonna, USA||114||51||DNS||DNS||63|
|6||Suzie Snyder, USA||100||DNS||DNS||DNS||100|
|7||Rebecca Blatt, USA||100||47||DNS||DNS||53|
|8||Fabiola Corona, MEX||90||DNS||90||DNS||DNS|
|9||Maia Ignatz, USA||90||DNS||DNS||DNS||90|
|10||Erika Simon, ARG||75||DNS||75||DNS||DNS|
|11||Debby Sullivan, USA||75||DNS||DNS||DNS||75|
|13||Sarah Gravves, USA||58||DNS||DNS||DNS||58|
|14||Caitlin Snow, USA||56||56||DNS||DNS||DNS|
|17||Maggie Rusch, USA||49||DNS||DNS||DNS||49|
MOLNAR, BLUNCK WIN OVERALL AMATEUR TITLES
The amateur racing was at an all-time best with one of the toughest fields ever assembled at Oak Mountain State Park.
For the second time in three years Daniel Molnar from North Dakota (via Hungary) won the overall men’s title while Hallie Blunck – a former road tri pro from right here in Birmingham, Alabama – took top honors in the women’s field in her first-ever off-road tri.
Every age group was hotly contested, and of note, Anthony Snoble out-lasted Daryl Weaver in a sprint to the finish to win the 40-44 division by one-second. It’s the first age-group loss in Weaver’s award-winning career, ending a streak of roughly 30 straight age group wins.
There was also feel-good moments to be had all day long. David DeSantis finished his 5th race of the year in his 16 for 16 campaign and with the help of the Paul Mitchell Cut-a-thon raised a ton of money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Charlotte Mahan, at the age of 71, was giving pep-talks to the nine-year-olds racing the Xticer, and Nat Grew from Costa Rica and Rodger Bivens from Arizona are still going strong well into their 70’s. Between the perfect weather, great course, and good people today was certainly one of the most memorable XTERRA races in the eleven years the sport has raced at Oak Mountain.
Here’s a look at all of today’s age group champions:
|15 – 19||Heather Horton||Draper, UT||3:17:51|
|25 – 29||Stephanie Brunnemann||Salt Lake City, UT||3:28:28|
|30 – 34||Hallie Blunck||Birmingham, AL||2:54:50|
|35 – 39||Courtney Kaup||Hinesburg, VT||3:03:08|
|40 – 44||Kelli Montgomery||Wallingford, CT||2:58:40|
|45 – 49||Christy Fritts||Carlsbad, CA||3:13:53|
|50 – 54||Margo Pitts||Raleigh, NC||3:13:51|
|55 – 59||Tamara Tabeek||Ramona, CA||3:14:33|
|65 – 69||Linda Usher||West Upton, MA||4:51:52|
|PC||Beth Price||Spanish Fort, AL||4:53:53|
|15 – 19||Austin Harper||Vestavia Hills, AL||3:41:06|
|20 – 24||Caleb Baity||Boonville, NC||2:56:44|
|25 – 29||Kris Ochs||Vail, CO||2:43:32|
|30 – 34||Daniel Molnar||Bismark, ND||2:31:25|
|35 – 39||AJ Petrillo||Blue Ridge, GA||2:39:45|
|40 – 44||Anthony Snoble||East Islip, NY||2:41:15|
|45 – 49||Marcus Barton||Waxhaw, NC||2:42:48|
|50 – 54||Ali Arasta||Asheboro, NC||2:48:38|
|55 – 59||Jean-Paul Martin||Oakton, VA||2:54:16|
|60 – 64||Steve Cole||Alpharetta, GA||3:15:05|
|65 – 69||Michael Orendorff||Pueblo, CO||3:18:39|
|70 – 74||Rodger Bivens||Tucson, AZ||5:33:38|
|Clydesdale||Thorsten Oelschlaeger||Northport, AL||3:58:18|
Special Thanks to our Sponsors
XTERRA Oak Mountain is presented by Paul Mitchell, Shelby County Tourism, and XTERRA Travel. Sponsors include Outrigger Resorts, Muscle Milk, Gatorade Endurance, PowerBar, Optic Nerve Sunglasses, Greenlayer, Oak Mountain State Park, Blue Cross/Blue Shield-Alabama, XTERRA Wetsuits, XTERRA Fitness, XTERRA Boards, Compex, the Shelby County Reporter, and the Utah Sports Commission. Click here for special offers from our partners.
2016 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS
XTERRA Oak Mountain Championship was the 15th of 37 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the world could qualify to race at the 21st annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on Oct 23.
|DATE||WORLD TOUR EVENT||LOCATION or WINNERS
|7-Feb||XTERRA Philippines||Brad Weiss/Lizzie Orchard|
|21-Feb||XTERRA South Africa||Brad Weiss/Flora Duffy|
|5-Mar||XTERRA Motatapu||Olly Shaw/Mary Gray|
|12-Mar||XTERRA Saipan||Brodie Gardner/Carina Wasle|
|20-Mar||XTERRA Costa Rica||Karl Shaw/Myriam Guillot-Boisset|
|26-Mar||XTERRA Argentina||Josiah Middaugh/Myriam Guillot|
|3-Apr||XTERRA Malta||Roger Serrano/Brigitta Poor|
|16-Apr||XTERRA New Zealand||Braden Currie/Lizzie Orchard|
|17-Apr||XTERRA La Reunion||Ruben Ruzafa/Carina Wasle|
|23-Apr||XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship||Braden Currie/Lizzie Orchard|
|7-May||XTERRA Malaysia / XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Championship||Ben Allen/Jacqui Slack|
|7-May||XTERRA Brazil||Albert Soley/Sabrina Gobbo|
|7-May||XTERRA Greece||Roger Serrano/Helena Erbenova|
|14-May||XTERRA Tahiti||Josiah Middaugh/Lesley Paterson|
|21-May||XTERRA Oak Mountain State Park||Josiah Middaugh/Suzie Snyder|
|25-Jun||XTERRA Switzerland||Vallee de Joux|
|25-Jun||XTERRA Mine over Matter||Milton, Ontario, Canada|
|10-Jul||XTERRA Victoria||Victoria, B.C., Canada|
|16-Jul||XTERRA Beaver Creek||Beaver Creek, CO, USA|
|23-Jul||XTERRA Parry Sound||Ontario, Canada|
|31-Jul||XTERRA Italy||Lago Di Scanno|
|31-Jul||XTERRA Dominican Republic||Barahona|
|13-Aug||XTERRA Sweden||Hellsgaarten, Stockholm|
|14-Aug||XTERRA Canmore||Canmore, Alberta, Canada|
|20-Aug||XTERRA Germany – XTERRA European Championship||Zittau|
|27-Aug||XTERRA Sleeping Giant||Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada|
|27-Aug||XTERRA Korea||Daeahn Reservoir, Wonju City|
|4-Sep||XTERRA Denmark||Mons Klint|
|4-Sep||XTERRA Quebec||Quebec City, Quebec|
|11-Sep||XTERRA Woolastook||New Brunswick, Canada|
|17-Sep||XTERRA USA / Pan Am Championship||Ogden, Utah, USA|
|23-Oct||XTERRA World Championship||Kapalua, Maui|