Tune in each day as we countdown to our top 10 stories of 2014. Here’s a look at numbers four and three.
BRAVEHEART. Lesley Paterson arrived in Utah to race XTERRA Nationals this year with all the power, strength, and resolve of a superhero. The sport rejoiced in her presence and celebrated her return to the dirt after struggling through a year of battling Lyme disease. On race day she did not disappoint, fighting her way into the second-spot before eventually finishing third. But that day took its toll, and added another layer of pain to her arduous bout with Lyme. She sat out Maui to focus on the fight to get better. What makes Lesley a legend is that in the midst of her struggles she still lifted up all those around her. She coached rookie pro sensation Mauricio Mendez to one of the most amazing first-year performances of all-time. She kick-started a racing team with the notion of helping someone less fortunate than yourself as its cornerstone. Her voice saying “Be Brave” echoed in her friend Tammy Tabeek’s mind as she pushed through to win her division in Maui. Lesley means so much to so many … let us all pour positive thoughts for her return to full health in 2015. The Braveheart deserves no less.
PERFECTION. Ruben Ruzafa rolled through 2014 with arguably the greatest XTERRA racing season of all-time. He stormed past the fastest XTERRA men in Europe (Asa Shaw, Francois Carloni, Yeray Luxem), held off the hard-charging Kiwi Braden Currie of New Zealand, won against 7x World Champ Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz, and took it to America’s-best, Josiah Middaugh, in both Europe and the U.S. Since becoming a full-time XTERRA triathlete in 2013 and winning Worlds last year he’s been unstoppable. This season he won nine straight XTERRA majors at Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Italy, Czech, Germany, Utah, and Maui. He also collected the XTERRA European Tour Championship, the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship, and the XTERRA USA Championship along the way.