Chacon, Vanlandingham win XTERRA Costa Rica

Mar. 29, 2014

(Playa Conchal, Costa Rica) – Home country hero Leonardo Chacon and former XTERRA World Champion Shonny Vanlandinghan won the XTERRA Costa Rica off-road triathlon on an incredibly hot day in Playa Conchal.

XTERRA managing director "Kahuna Dave" Nicholas was on-site and brings us this report...

After days of super gusty winds and high humidity the weather Gods gave us a perfect Costa Rica day for racing.  Not that it wasn’t hot or humid, but not oppressive at all.

The morning was truly festive with hundreds of athletes and spectators all wearing their XTERRA tattoos and smiling in anticipation.  On the way down to the start, a loud family of howler monkeys was perched right above the road providing entertainment for all.  These little guys are cute as hell and it is amazing the huge howls and growls they summon up.

Pro men started up on the beach right at 0645 followed by the pro women a few minutes later.  The big age group field would start after the women were well into their second lap.  The first lap out of the water, local and international pro Leonardo Chacon led followed closely by American Craig Evans and Mexican 20-year-old neo-pro Mauricio Mendez Cruz.

Evans went into the lead on the second lap and headed the field onto the bike with Chacon second, Maurizio 3rd, Brandon Rakita 4th and Roberto Garcia 5th.   USA champ Josiah Middaugh was roughly 3 minutes back in 8th.  Josiah quickly dispatched everyone ahead of him but Chacon, who had caught Evans and had the lead.  At the start of “The Lollipop”, about 2/3 of the bike,  Leo was 1 minute ahead of Josiah.  “I was catching him on the hike-a-bikes, or so it seemed.  I think I got to 40 seconds, but when we got back on the bike he really went hard” said Middaugh.  “I knew Josiah was there and he was pushing me” said Chacon “I had to push so hard”.  Hard?  When I talked to Leo he was in the med tent on his 2nd IV.  He left nothing out on the field.

Best race on the bike was birthday boy Craig Evans and his young protagonist Mauricio Mendez.  They traded places and worked together the entire bike.  “I liked racing with him, he is very good to ride with” said Mendez.  “We had a good race but when we got to the run, he simply ran away” lamented Evans.

Leo was on a mission and put time on Josiah in the first couple K of the run and then held it, winning by just under 3 minutes.  Mendez was a fantastic 3rd overall with the fastest run of the day and came across the line just a minute behind Middaugh.

The heat finally got to Craig Evans and another hard charging Costa Rican- Rom Akerson – caught Craig with only a few hundred meters to go.

For the women, Canadian Chris Jeffrey had a massive lead out of the water.  Chris’ nickname is Big Fish and the announcers continued to use that name the entire race.  At the end, in the timing tent, the scoring crew asked me to verify that Big Fish was not her real name !!  Shonny Vanlandingham had a good swim and was just 4 ½ minutes back.

We need to talk about the swim.  The beach is pure white, the water azure blue.  But yesterday and today there was a massive influx of jellyfish.  I don’t think massive is even a big enough word.  ”It was like swimming into a wall at times” said Brandon Rakita.  “There were times you could not see if front of you because they were so thick”.  Josiah laughed that it was “weird when you started a stroke and your hand punched into one – yuck”.  He finished “They were so thick the stinging danglers were always down and the only time I felt anything was when one would get tossed up”.  The beach was full of them, leftover from the high tide but nobody got stung.

Vanlandingham did not catch Jeffrey until well into the bike.  “She is a strong biker on those flats and I had to wait until the technical parts to make any kind of gain on her” said Shonny.  Indeed Christine had a great bike to finish an uncontested 2nd.  Farther back Costa Rican pro Vivian Chavarria came out of the water second to Jeffrey but by the Lollipop Brazil pro Laura Diaz was in 3rd with Brit Flo Dannah 4th.  Diaz, like so many others, suffered on the run and Flo caught her about the same place as Akerson passed Evans.  The finish for the women was Vanlandingham first, Jeffrey 2nd, Flo Dannah 3rd, Laura Diaz 4th and Chavarria 5th.

A great first race.  The area is fabulous.  The event is held inside Playa Conchal which features hundreds of great condos from 1 to 3 bedrooms and the swanky Westin Resort.  For those on a budget there are a dozen or more smaller places nearby that start at $29 a night.  Plenty of camping as well, but don’t expect the campsites to be deluxe as in the States.  This area is basically a Costa Rican surf resort.  Lots of waves, coffee houses and small restaurants of a very high quality.  Cuisine seems to be largely Italian and Mediterranean, but as mentioned, there are dozens of neat café’ style places to choose from that are quite varied.  Oh – and the local Imperial Beer is always cold and tasty.

For this area you can fly into a good sized airport in Liberia.  Then about a 45 minute drive to the venue.  The Capitol City of San Jose is from 2.5 to 4 hours depending on traffic – and there is traffic in the big city.

Costa Rica is just a neat place.  I had heard loads about it but never had been here.  It meets all your expectations and then some.  I’ve said it about a dozen places and this is another one.  Get that Live More spirit going and come play in the sun and the surf next season.

Pro Men
Pl Name Time
1 Leonardo Chacon, CRC 2:17:43
2 Josiah Middaugh, USA 2:20:40
3 Mauricio Mendez, MEX 2:21:46
4 Rom Akerson, CRC 2:25:05
5 Craig Evans, USA 2:25:47
6 Sebastian Neef, GER 2:26:39
7 Branden Rakita, USA 2:29:25
8 Llewellyn Holmes, GBR 2:31:59
9 Jan Kubicek, CZE 2:34:29
10 Sebastian Bauer, GER 2:42:26
Also: John Garita Zamora, Roberto Garcia Lachner, Fabrizio Bartoli
Pro Women
Pl Name Final
1 Shonny Vanlandingham, USA 2:51:08
2 Christine Jeffrey, USA 2:58:23
3 Flo Dannah, GBR 3:14:35
4 Laura Mira Diaz, BRA 3:14:58
5 Viviana Chavarria 3:38:56

Age Group Results / Facebook Page / Images


XTERRA Costa Rica was the fifth of 37 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the globe could qualify to race at the 19th annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on October 26, 2014.  Up next, the XTERRA Saipan Championship on April 5.

Date Race Location / Pro Winners
23-Feb XTERRA South Africa Dan Hugo / Flora Duffy
8-Mar XTERRA Motatapu Braden Currie / Nicky Samuels
15-Mar XTERRA Philippines Championship Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher
29-Mar XTERRA Guam Championship Dan Hugo / Renata Bucher
29-Mar XTERRA Costa Rica Leonardo Chacon / Shonny Vanlandingham
30-Mar XTERRA Great Ocean Road
Anglesea, Victoria, Australia
5-Apr XTERRA Saipan Championship Northern Marianas
12-Apr XTERRA New Zealand Championship Rotorua
13-Apr XTERRA West Championship Lake Las Vegas, Nevada
26-Apr XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia
3-May XTERRA Malaysia Putrajaya
17-May XTERRA Southeast Championship Pelham, Alabama
24-May XTERRA Mauritius Bois Cheri
25-May XTERRA Spain Championship Cieza, Murcia
1-Jun XTERRA Portugal Golega
8-Jun XTERRA Brazil Championship Ilhabela, Sao Paulo
15-Jun XTERRA East Championship Richmond, Virginia
21-Jun XTERRA Greece Lake Plastira
28-Jun XTERRA Switzerland Championship Vallee de Joux
29-Jun XTERRA Norway Horten
5-Jul XTERRA Ontario - Canadian Cross Tri Championship Milton, Ontario, Canada
6-Jul XTERRA France Championship Xonrupt, Gerardmer
6-Jul XTERRA Victoria British Columbia, Canada
6-Jul XTERRA Freedom Fest Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii
13-Jul XTERRA Sweden Hellasgaarten
19-Jul XTERRA Mountain Championship Beaver Creek Resort, Avon, Colorado
20-Jul XTERRA Ireland Killaloe, County Clare
26-Jul XTERRA Italy Championship Abruzzo, Scanno
2-Aug XTERRA Mexico Championship Tapalpa, Jalisco
9-Aug XTERRA Czech Championship Prachatice
16-Aug XTERRA Germany Championship Zittau
17-Aug XTERRA Canmore Alberta, Canada
24-Aug XTERRA England Cranleigh, Surrey
31-Aug XTERRA Denmark Tisvilde
31-Aug XTERRA Quebec Lac Delage, Quebec, Canada
7-Sep XTERRA Sleeping Giant Thundery Bay, Ontario, Canada
20-Sep XTERRA USA Championship Ogden/Snowbasin, UT
26-Oct XTERRA World Championship Maui, Hawaii

About TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA

TEAM Unlimited is a Hawaii-based television events and marketing company, founded in 1988.  It owns and produces XTERRA and in 2014 will offer more than 300 XTERRA off-road triathlon and trail running races in 25+ countries worldwide. In addition, TEAM TV has produced more than 300 adventure television shows resulting in three Emmy’s and 42 Telly Awards for production excellence since 1990.  View samples at, and learn more at and

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