Meet the World Champions, Part 1
In the coming weeks we'll introduce you to the 2012 class of XTERRA World Champions in each division, here are a few to get started...
Lucia Colbert (55-59 Division) Cordova, Tennessee - 3:49:55
Lucia Colbert was an XTERRA veteran who never tasted the big time … until this year.
Despite starting her off-road triathlon career in the 90’s and racking up six XTERRA Southeast Regional Championships through the years, Colbert had never traveled to compete in the U.S. or World Championship races.
That all changed in May when the ITU Cross Tri World Championship was hosted by XTERRA in Birmingham, Alabama. She won that race, then in September she ventured to Utah to race in her first XTERRA Nationals – and won there. Two weeks ago in her first shot at Maui, she won again, edging six-time World Champ Barbara Paterson by less than a minute.
“I was very fortunate. I had a lot go wrong yet was still able to hang on for the win. I wasn't sure I was in the lead because my swim was really off but I just kept going hard. Then, a male competitor lost control of his bike and knocked me off mine. I was cut up pretty bad but got up and kept going,” said Colbert, who is a structural integration practitioner by trade.
During the run to the finish a younger competitor passed Colbert and as she went by “she told me I had beautiful running form. That made my day, that’s the XTERRA spirit,” said Colbert.
She got to experience even more of that spirit in the med tent after her finish as the legendary Dr. John Mills (a 2005 XTERRA Warrior Award winner) – who coincidentally went to med school in Lucia’s hometown of Memphis – took care of her wounds.
“As soon as I crossed the finish line a volunteer suggested I go to medical. I was unaware of how bad my cuts were. The volunteer escorted me over, and they immediately took care of my wounds and the ER doc stitched me up and sent me on my way. Turns out he went to medical school in my hometown – what a small world.”
Indeed, a small world and a magic island that holds a special place in Colbert’s heart. It was almost 25 years ago that Lucia was married to her husband Bert and came to Maui for her honeymoon.
“We had a wonderful second honeymoon. I got to race XTERRA Worlds, and Bert volunteered in the transition area,” said Colbert. “Maui has special energy. As one of my training partners said, ‘The whales don't come down every February from Alaska for nothing.”
Roger Kern (70-74 Division) Scotts Valley, California - 5:30:38
Roger Kern is a semi-retired mechanical engineer who got into XTERRA with a nudge from a training buddy after he successfully completed a sprint road triathlon back in 2010.
Kern played a big part in the 2011 XTERRA Pacific Championship at Santa Cruz. Wilder Ranch is his home turf and Roger did a lot of pre-riding and working with the rangers to determine the final bike course. The week before the race he and his buddies were grooming the bike and cutting parts of the trail run.
“Maui went well. I enjoyed going thru the challenging surf and was able to stay "on course" pretty well. Rode the first 9 miles conservatively to save the legs but then put the hammer down and had some fun on the rest of the ride. The run was the real test of survival. I'll bet Tarzan didn't have to dodge golf balls when he ran thru the jungle,” said Kern, who said he got laughed at for drinking chocolate milk with a straw during the run.
Outside of the race he enjoyed the swimming and snorkeling spots Maui is famous for, and said meeting competitors from all over the world was his favorite part of the experience.
“I met up with several guys from Alaska who told me that they ride their fat tire (4" wide) mountain bikes in the snow all winter, and that when they hit a soft drift they practically disappear.”
Mimi Stockton (40-44 Division) Stevensville, Michigan - 3:20:41
In her fourth year of racing XTERRA Stockton was simply sensational. She won the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship in Alabama in May, the XTERRA Torn Shirt off-road tri in June, the XTERRA DINO Versailles tri in July, and DINO Logansport in August. She had a perfect score en route to winning the Midwest 40-44 Regional Championship for the second time, and saved her best performance for Maui where she took on 28 other women representing seven countries and 12 states.
Her time of 3:20:41 was more than three minutes ahead of runner-up Rachael Gordon of France, and good for fifth overall amateur.
“I didn't have a very solid swim (I think I ingested enough salt water to last me through next season!), but I felt good on the bike and then once I got to the run I felt great and in my element,” said Stockton, who ran marathons before she got into XTERRA. “Most of the bikes were still missing when I returned to transition but I had no idea how many were in front of me during the run. All I know is that I passed several women in my age group but I didn't know for certain I had won until I picked up the results card at the finish line.”
Stockton stays fit by chasing her three little kids all day, and teaches spinning at Maddog 5/1 Revolutionary Fitness in her spare time. It wasn’t until a knee surgery forced her into a pool for a year that she decided to give triathlon a go.
“I did road triathlon for about four years and then realized that my true love was mountain biking, not road biking, so I made the jump to XTERRA. I couldn't be happier. Now I can only tolerate road biking. It's got nothing on mountain biking!”
Aside from getting pounded by the surf, Stockton said nothing too crazy happened to her during the race, but “afterwards I couldn't figure out why I felt so sticky...until I got back to the room and discovered a Gu pack that had leaked all over my body. Awesome!”
Sticky or not, Stockton said she had the time of her life in Maui.
“There is truly nothing that compares to racing in Maui. At several points during the bike, I took a second and was just in awe of the scenery that lay before me. I realized that I was pretty damn lucky to be able to do what I do. Not only has XTERRA allowed me to push myself to new limits and experience lots of mud, sweat and (sometimes) tears, it has taken me to some of the most beautiful places in the world. I had such a great time in Maui. After the race we took a boat over to Lanai and I tried my hand at surfing...which admittedly was not quite an epic failure, but close.”
Elizabeth Gruber (20-24 Division) Redding, California - 3:23:04
In just her first year racing XTERRA Elizabeth Gruber was a perfect 4-for-4 in her division, won the Northwest Regional Championship, and the World title.
“I did a couple off-road tris, duathlons, and mountain bike races in high school, but it wasn’t until a good friend on my collegiate triathlon club at Oregon State University introduced me to XTERRA this summer that I got hooked. What a perfect fit.”
Gruber is a full-time graduate student at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, and in the midst of getting her master’s degree in prosthetics and orthotics. She was one of five in the 20-24 division, and the lone American in the bunch.
“My race was awesome. I was so grateful for the cooler weather because in past races I struggled a little in the heat. I was there with amazing friends and family; my whole experience was incredible. I felt steady and strong and didn't really think about what place I was in. No one passed me that looked like they were in my age group, so I knew I was either ahead the whole race or somewhere behind. I guess I was ahead!”
Indeed she was, as her winning time was nearly 20 minutes better than the runner-up Tereze Rudolfova from the Czech Republic. She also got a little face time during the race on the live site.
“At the top up the climb on the narrow ridge section there was a camera woman filming. When I rode by I yelled out "Lovin' it!" and did a hang-loose sign. At that same time my parents were watching the live feed and saw me on screen! It was really cool for them to see me way up in the middle of the race.”
After it was all over, Gruber felt right at home in Hawaii.
“I loved my time in Maui; it's literally paradise,” said Gruber. “I snorkeled, saw tons of sea turtles, had fun pre-running, swimming, and riding the course, and spending time with good friends. And I LOVED the Halloween party!!! I hit the floor hardcore for sure!”
Casey Fannin (50-54 Division) Birmingham, Alabama - 3:09:00
Former Mr. XTERRA Casey Fannin finished 32 seconds ahead of Armand Surwilo from Poland to win his third XTERRA World Championship this year. He also won the ITU Cross Tri World Title in his hometown back in May.
The victories are just part of the lure for Fannin, who got started in the sport back in 1999.
“I already loved mountain biking and really liked the triathlon thing, so I ventured over to Ruston, Louisiana to try out the XTERRA American Tour, and it was love at first race. Now 14 years later I still love XTERRA and its brand of off-road mayhem.”
Speaking of mayhem, that’s how his World Championship race started this year…
“I was not too sure about my race at Worlds last Sunday. The swim was quite pushy for me and I was well off course. I really thought I had put myself out of the mix when I was coming out of the water. I thought nobody can swim that slow and make up the time needed for a win, but once I made it to transition there were plenty of bikes still hanging at the racks, so I felt like I might be in alright position, and others must have struggled with the swim also. Looking back, I would have to say that swim was the craziest thing this year. Big shore break, pushy current, just perfect XTERRA conditions. People were swimming into the flow of people going out and back in, it was nuts! Can't ask for more crazy, like I said, perfect XTERRA conditions!”
In 2011, the first year World’s was held at Kapalua, Fannin was leading the race going into the run but got chased down by David Maclean and ultimately finished second. He made sure history wouldn’t repeat itself this year.
“Last year my run was what lost the race for me, so this year I trained in the hills much more, and I feel it paid off. My run split was about 5 minutes faster this year and I feel it made the difference for the win. Not to mention I have the most loving, supportive, best fan in the world, and wife on the planet that boosted my spirits during the race, oh, and I prayed the whole race...that always helps, always!”
Outside of the race, Fannin “just kept falling more in love with my wife,” he said. “Maui is always a great place to spend time with my wife. We really connect there, and we love to swim with the marine life, especially the Honu. We had great accommodations at and I caught some sweet waves at Little Macs, it was going off the day after the race. It was a fantastic vacation! Maui no- ka ?oi.”