Unusually cool weather has greeted the XTERRA Tribe in advance of Saturday’s ninth annual XTERRA Southeast Championship at Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama.
It’s expected to be in the 60s tomorrow, in stark contrast to the historic norm for this race which is mid-90s and smoking hot. Who that will play in favor of is anyone’s guess, but after nine years of racing on these trails – it’s no secret who can crush this course.
For the pro men you’d have to start with conrad Stoltz,who won six-in-a-row from 2007-2012, but he’s not here as he’s still recovering from lingering effects of a nasty cold.
That leaves Josiah “Beast Mode” Middaugh, the defending SE Champ and Pro Series Champ. He’s been hard to beat for a few years now.
Next up is Dan Hugo, a 3x runner-up on this course (08, 11, and last year). Hugo has been unbelievable this year with five big wins already. The question is will the thousands of miles traveled – from the Philippines to Guam to Saipan to the U.S. to Australia to Malaysia and back – and dozens of epic adventures along the way play its toll? Hard to say, but certainly no one is feeling sorry for the man.
Then there’s Craig Evans, on his home course, his bread-and-butter, site of his greatest racing scene – the runner-up performance at the 2012 ITU Cross Tri World Championships. Since winning the age group overall the first time XTERRA came to Oak Mountain back in 2006 Evans has finished sixth, fifth, fourth, third three times, and 2nd. Needless to say he likes it here.
Our featured athlete Brad Weiss is self-admittedly “in the form of his life” and very dangerous as is the super young-gun Mauricio Mendez of Mexico. As an amateur last year Mendez was 7th here. In his first pro race last month in Vegas he was third. He’s likely to post the fastest swim and run splits, and he’s only 18-years-old.
Don’t forget about the Colorado kids – Ryan Ignatz and Branden Rakita – or the Canadian trio of Karsten Madsen, Sean Bechtel, or Jean-Philippe Thibodeau. Ogden’s own Nick Fisher was 5th here last year as the course suits his mountain bike skills so well.
Also of note, this will mark the U.S. Pro Series debut for last year’s ENVE amateur Performer of the Year Alex Modestou and Guam-representative Charlie Epperson.
Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
1 - Josiah Middaugh – 35, Vail-Eagle, CO
2 - Bradley Weiss – 25, Cape Town, South Africa
3 - Mauricio Mendez – 18, Mexico City, Mexico
4 - Branden Rakita – 33, Colorado Springs, CO
5 - Craig Evans – 36, Hendersonville, TN
7 - Dan Hugo – 28, Stellenbosch, South Africa
8 - Chris Ganter – 35, Boise, ID
10 - Ryan Ignatz - Boulder, CO
12 - Jeff Smith – 31, Portland, OR
14 - Ryan DeCook – 33, Rochester, MI
15 - Will Ross - 24, Anchorage, AK
17 - Nick Fisher – 28, Ogden, UT
19 - Andy Lee – 41, Lakeway, TX (Great Britain)
NR - Karsten Madsen – Guelph, Ontario, Canada
NR - Sean Bechtel – 30, Caledon, Ontario, Canada
NR - Charlie Epperson – 37, Tamuning, Guam (TN)
NR - Alex Modestou – 27, Washington, D.C.
NR - Jean-Philippe Thibodeau – 23, Quebec, Canada
NR - Noah Wright - 39, Tasmania, Australia
For the women it’s all about Flora Duffy, who has been nothing but dominant this season. She started mountain biking all the time back in December and we've seen her skill level start to match her remarkable fitness level, creating a hard-to-beat-anywhere talent.
Two-time SE Champion and former XTERRA World Champ Shonny Vanlandingham will certainly try. It seems if ever there were courses to expose Duffy’s (perceived) weakness on the bike – this and Richmond would be them.
Emma Garrard has been the hottest American woman on tour of late, and was 2nd to Duffy in Vegas last month. Chantell Widney and Danelle Kabush represent Canada, while Suzie Snyder and Kara LaPoint will join Shonny in Luna blue.
Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
1 - Flora Duffy – 26, Boulder, CO (Bermuda)
2 - Emma Garrard – 32, Park City, Utah
3 - Shonny Vanlandingham – 44, Durango, Colorado
4 - Suzie Snyder – 32, Fredericksburg, Virginia
5 - Chantell Widney – 34, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
6 - Danelle Kabush – 39, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
7 - Kara LaPoint – 26, Truckee, CA
9 - Jamie Brede – 36, Breckenridge, Colorado
12 - Amelia McCracken – 30, Philadelphia, PA
NR - Caroline Colonna – 50, Taos, NM
NR - Christine Jeffrey – 41, Tucson, AZ (Canada)
For the age groupers, all the fastest girls are back – Mimi Stockton, Brook Pace, Melanie Etherton, Jennifer Moos, Kelli Montgomery, and Beata Wronska were your top six last year in that order. Stockton went on to win a World title.
In the men’s amateur race the top two from 2013 – Chuck Sloan and Brandon Mills – are not on the line-up card yet, leaving Grayson Keppler (a South African living in Texas) as your top returning age grouper. Other threats to the overall include local David Meadows, Dani Molnar, Marcus Barton, Mike Carter, AJ Petrillo, Anthony Snoble and certainly some others that we haven’t mentioned.
The Southeast Championship race is true XTERRA – a beautiful swim, epic trails, and a fast, flat but twisty run course. Nice cool weather will make it all the more enjoyable. We’ll have results in photos linked to our Facebook - www.facebook.com/xterraplanet and twitter account @xterraoffroad - tomorrow.
Notes about the XTERRA Southeast Championship
- Easy to get to from anywhere. Atlanta, one of the biggest airports on earth is just 2.5 hours away. The Birmingham airport with direct connections is only 30 minutes away.
- Shelby County is home to the venue site, Oak Mountain State Park, the State’s largest park with more than 10,000 acres. There is so much more to see in Shelby County. The County boasts 50 public parks, eight museums, three wineries and 10 golf courses. Learn more at www.discovershelby.com
- There are dozens of good hotels within 15 minutes of the start line.
- There are dozens of restaurants in the area from simple to gourmet. One of the crew favorites is the Margarita Grill on Cahaba Valley Road.
- Birmingham is a historic city with roots back to the US Civil War and was the center of the US civil rights movement of the 1960's. Museums and historic places abound.
- This area of the United States is known for its Southern Hospitality and friendly people.
- For motor enthusiasts, the Barber Motorsports park and museum is one of the foremost motorcycle and car museums anywhere.
- The weather will be fantastic!! Temps between 80 to 85F.
- Over 40 miles of trails from single track to jeep road, rolling hills, fast descents, technical yet fast.
- Lake temperature normally 75F/24C.
- XTERRA will also host 5K and 10K Fun Runs, and a competitive 20K trail run on Sunday for all to enjoy.
The 2014 XTERRA Southeast Championship is presented by Paul Mitchell and Shelby County Tourism. Sponsors include Muscle Milk, XTERRA Wetsuits, PowerBar, Gatorade Endurance, XTERRA Fitness, LifeProof, XTERRA Boards, the Utah Sports Commission, XTERRA Cycle and Tri Gear, City of Pelham, Oak Mountain State Park, Optic Nerve Sunglasses, XTERRA Apparel and the Shelby County Reporter.
XTERRA Southeast Championship
When: May 17, 8:30 a.m. start
Where: Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham, Ala.
Course distances: 1.5K swim / 30K MTB / 10K trail run.