A quick look at the race results for the XTERRA Mountain Championship on Saturday shows Anne Gonzales - a 50-54 division age group racer - placing 7th overall female, top amateur, and ahead of a handful of pros and the sports' most recognizable age groupers.
Gonzales had the same bike split as 3x XTERRA World Champ Melanie McQuaid, finished more than an hour ahead of the next best female in her division, and was faster than several notable XTERRA National and World Champions that compete in younger divisions. No one on the staff knew who she was.
Has to be a mistake, right? Wrong. The mistake was XTERRA's, for thinking it was a mistake. Upon reviewing the results XTERRA made the 50-54 division unofficial until it had time to do some research. While this was happening, other athletes were being triumphed as the overall and age group champs on the day, sadly stealing the spotlight from Anne Gonzales - who had just put up one of the most incredible performances in XTERRA history.
In doing its homework XTERRA learned that while Gonzalez is new to the sport - just her second race - she is a gifted athlete.
"She's the female version of Ned Overend, Mike Kloser and Michael Tobin," said former XTERRA Pro Sari Anderson. "Just that she wasn't able to race in her 20s, 30s and 40s due to having kids. She is an amazing athlete, more than capable of finishing just 15 minutes behind Danelle."
Gonzales, a gardener during the summertime in Aspen, Colorado, 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 five years ago. In February, after watching XTERRA on TV, she turned her focus to off-road triathlon and made the XTERRA Mountain Championship the goal.
"Anne Gonzales is one of the finest, fittest master's athletes in the U.S.," said Riggs Klika, Ph.D., a sports scientist. "She has an extensive athletic resume over the last two decades to indicate that her performance (at the XTERRA Mountain Champs) was well within her physical abilities. She is a four-time National and one-time Master's World Champion in mountain biking, and has a vitae that demonstrates her superior athletic ability."
In other words, Anne Gonzales is the real deal, and had she raced as a pro she would have won prize money.
XTERRA would like to apologize to Anne for not doing its homework fast enough, and stealing the much deserved spotlight on a truly remarkable performance.