A look at some of our favorite tales from the off-road (click on the embedded links for more on each piece)…
1. Putting it all in perspective - Kim Cross, a racer/mom/author from Birmingham, Alabama made us both laugh and cry in her wondeful piece titled “Learning the Art of Losing” which was posted online by espnW. Her perspective on racing and life and parenthood is akin to a big breath of fresh air. There’s a terrific video that goes with the story too, check it out.
2. The Comeback Kids– We are constantly inspired by those who overcome adversity. This year there were several notable XTERRA racers who did just that…
Julie Dibens - returned to tri at the XTERRA Mountain Champs in July and brought a barrel full of laughs for the XTERRA Tribe with her. Always a treat to have the witty and uber-talented Brit along for the ride, AND she actually led the bike through the first 10 miles before Shonny Vanlandingham took over. Don't ask what happened in Hawaii.
Ron Hill – Our XTERRA Warrior award winner crashed hard on the downhill in Maui last year and crushed his pelvis. It’s not an easy injury to recover from, not when you’re 30, definitely not when you're 75, but Ron did. He spent weeks prone in a hospital bed, graduated to a wheelchair to a walker to light jogging to racing again in July to winning his second XTERRA World title this October.
Jamie Whitmore – One of our favorite comebacks of all-time. She’s conquering the world again, and still shaking things up at XTERRA too. This year J-Dawg had big fun with the Tribe at XTERRA Guam.
Ryan DeCook – Talk about a guy that doesn’t give-up or give-in. The 10-year XTERRA vet bounced back from not one, but several gnarly injuries to mix it up with the best in the business yet again in 2013.
Shonny Vanlandingham – After blowing out her knee in 2011 it was hard to imagine the 2010 XTERRA World Champ returning to form, especially at 44-years-old. But she did, in convincing fashion by winning the XTERRA Mountain Championship for the fourth time in five years in July, then posting the fastest bike split at XTERRA Worlds in October. Perhaps her best is yet to come! ESPN wrote a great article on Shonny title “age is no obstacle” this September, read it here.
Dan Hugo - Following nearly a year off the XTERRA circuit in 2012 due to injuries Hugo rejuvenated his career and passion for the sport by traveling to 14 XTERRA races in nine countries. He finished in the top three at 11 of those – and his victory at the XTERRA East Championship in Richmond was cause for celebration for his friends, family, and XTERRA fans worldwide.
3. Life Re-Imagined – Cindi Toepel took the “age is no obstacle” theme to a whole new level this year by winning the women’s overall at XTERRA Iron Creek AND the 60-64 division at the same time. Cindi also won her unprecedented ninth XTERRA USA Championship (seventh in a row).
4. Caveman wins 7th World Title – The legend grows. After cutting his hand open at the season-opener in Vegas Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz battled through a series of ensuing injuries that forced him to pull from the run in ‘Bama, then not even start at one of his favorite all-time races in Richmond. Living up to his mantra “never give up,” the Caveman pulled off an improbable win at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship in the sands of the Netherlands – his third straight ITU World title to go with his unprecedented four XTERRA crowns. For good measure, he beat Europe’s best XTERRA racers in Italy a week later.
5. Looking to the Source – Tom Dhans gave us a glimpse into the strength of the human spirit this year as he raced at XTERRA Worlds in honor of his 16-year-old daughter who passed away in an auto accident.
6. Ben and Jacqui – What a year it was for the reigning XTERRA Warrior award-winners. Ben won an unprecedented seven XTERRA World Tour championship events, they both won the Asia-Pacific Triple Crowns, and with a heavy heart after losing her beloved grandfather Jacqui won the XTERRA England Championship in his honor in front of an extended collection of family and friends. It was the first triathlon her father had ever been to. Tim Carlson captured the essence of this duo just a few weeks ago in an article title “Family Matters in Life and Sport”
7. Streakers – No, not that kind, we're talking about winning streaks like Lesley Paterson, who won seven straight XTERRA races from the 2012 USA Championship through to the 2013 USA Champs. In Europe, the distinction belonged to Helena Erbenova who won five straight (Greece, Switzerland, France, Italy, and Czech) on her way to capturing the XTERRA European Tour for the second year-in-a-row.
8. A decade of excellence - In 2004 the Stillwater Sport & Entertainment team introduced XTERRA to South Africa in Grabouw, a mountain paradise situated in the Western Cape atop the Sir Lowry’s Pass. The sport, and lifestyle, has grown spectacularly ever since. Aided by a magnificent base of sponsors, athletes, and media coverage, this year’s XTERRA South Africa Championship weekend accommodated close to 3,000 racers…“There is little doubt this is the biggest XTERRA on earth,” said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas.
9. The Professor – 2005 XTERRA World Champion Nico Lebrun announced his retirement from professional racing this year and shortly after became the first European inducted into the XTERRA Hall of Fame. He was nicknamed the “Professor” and will now use those strengths to help others in his new ventures with OrgaNICOach. So many great Nico stories to remember...like the time he fell and broke his wrist on the rocks just before winning worlds.
10. XTERRA Across America – Brent Bieshaar truly captured the “Live More” spirit of XTERRA this year by turning his bucket-list idea into reality. He did 22 XTERRA races in 23 weekends and an unprecedented 24 overall during the year. Along his 50,000-mile journey he made a lot of friends, raised thousands of dollars and hope for those touched by Lou Gehrig ’s disease in the name of the Blazeman Foundation, and taught us all a lesson on how to “adapt and conquer.” Read his blog
Honorable Mention: Josiah Middaugh becoming the first American to capture the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series since 2006; Marcus Barton cancelling his weekend plans to drive three hours to work on repairing trails effected by XTERRA Hickory Knob; this shot of Craig Evans face-planting in Richmond (he’s OK); Ben Allen offering to lend his bike to a traveling age grouper who lost his in transit to Greece just so he could pre-ride the course; Lesley Paterson’s remarkable life and diverse passions; and Conrad Stoltz saving Anthony Snoble from falling down the side of a trail in Richmond.
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 2014!