Even though two-time XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson wasn’t even in Maui for this year’s championship race, she still played a big role as an inspiration to her friends, fellow elites, and those she coached.
For Tammy Tabeek, aka “Momma Bear” – a long-time friend and training partner of Paterson’s, it was the Braveheart spirit that spurred her to win her second XTERRA World Championship in the 50-54 division.
“I think I had a five minute lead going into the run, but then at about mile 4.5 Janet Soule came by me in her usual 'gazelle' style run form and I thought ‘oh man not again,” explained Tabeek, who finished 2nd to Soule at the XTERRA West Champs earlier this year. “Then at around mile five I noticed Janet on the side of the trail. I think she had taken a tumble and her legs were 'done'. I just put my head down and tried to keep my race composer until the finish line.”
Tabeek said the win was special for many reasons.
“When I arrived Wednesday morning I learned that my brother-in-law Harry had passed away while I was in flight. That hit me hard and just reaffirmed life is so short. I dedicated the race to Harry and seriously, my race at times seemed very magical and kinda euphoric. Also this XTERRA Worlds event was the first time Lesley Paterson was not here. We are best pals and since I've been racing we travel together to all the races.....we are family and that's just what we do! There was a sense of 'loss' for sure with her absence this year. Les and I chatted the night before and she told me to 'Be Brave' Tam, Tam. There were several times during the race when that phrase popped in my mind. So between thoughts of 'Harry' and hearing Lesley say 'Be Brave' it was kinda like an out of body experience, very spiritual day!”
And, as she further explains, it may indeed have been spirits that carried her through much of that race… “On the bike we came to one of the technical downs and I was passing some folks and out of nowhere came a 'tree.' My bars hit the trunk and slammed me to the ground. I hit my head pretty good and tweaked my bars, but I got up fast and kept riding. I realized I had a small concussion due to the fact I couldn't remember the course at all or what was coming up. I did remember who I was and I knew where I was, however, I had no memory recall. Here's the crazy thing, I don't remember the bike portion from mile 2 to mile 12. The cool part of that, I guess, is that the bike portion seemed real short.”
Tammy said that when she crossed the finish line “I thought about Harry and how without his help that day I'm not sure I would of won.”