Thirty-two elites representing 10 states plus Canada, Australia, Mexico and Scotland will toe the start line at the XTERRA West Championship just outside of the Las Vegas strip on Saturday.
Josiah Middaugh is the man to beat in the men’s race. Contenders include long-time XTERRA America Tour stars Craig Evans, Branden Rakita and Ryan Ignatz along with international stand-outs Ben Allen and Francisco Serrano.
Allen, who was 3rd at XTERRA Worlds last year behind Ruzafa and Middaugh, has already won two XTERRA World Tour races this year – in Saipan and Guam – and just finished 5th at last weekend’s XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race in New South Wales, Australia. Serrano is a former Olympian and XTERRA Mexico Champ.
There will be a bunch of new faces in the men’s elite field in Vegas that will be fun to follow with the likes of Kevin Everett, Barret Fishner, James Hadley, Kyle Hughes, and Benjamin Torvik.
There is no clear cut favorite in the women’s elite race which is highlighted by Lesley Paterson, Emma Garrard, Suzie Snyder, and Melanie McQuaid.
Paterson was able to catch Garrard on the run to take the title at XTERRA Costa Rica last month, but will be swimming literally with one-arm while recovering from a fractured shoulder.
Garrard has been the top American in the Pro Series in each of the last two years, and was 2nd to Flora Duffy at last year’s West Championship race.
Snyder is coming off her first big pro win at XTERRA New Zealand two weeks ago, and was fourth last weekend at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Champs.
McQuaid, a three-time XTERRA World Champ, is always a threat and has several West Championship crowns in her trophy case already.
Sara McLarty adds some intrigue and a super-fast swim split and Sara Schuler (nee Tarkington) could surprise some people in the front of the mix.
As always, the first race of the Pro Series is fun to watch and a sign of things to come. Follow along on the XTERRA twitter feed @xterraoffroad for elite updates starting at 8am PST on Saturday.
Here’s a look at the start list, numbered by final position in Pro Series last year, then alphabetical and late additions…
No. - Name – Age, Hometown
1 - Josiah Middaugh – 36, Eagle-Vail, CO
2 - Craig Evans – 37, Hendersonville, TN
3 - Branden Rakita – 34, Colorado Springs, CO
4 - Chris Ganter – 36, Boise, ID
5 - Ryan Ignatz – 36, Boulder, CO
6 - Alex Modestou – 28, Durham, NC
7 - Brad Zoller – 37, Avon, CO
8 - Karsten Madsen – 23, Guelph, Ontario, CAN
9 - Ben Allen – 30, Wollongong, Australia
10 - Jimmy Archer – 42, Denver, CO
11 - JP Donovan – 28, Incline Village, NV
12 - Kevin Everett – 40, Boise, ID
14 - Barret Fishner – 32, Lillington, NC
15 - James Hadley – 35, Longmont, CO
16 - Kyle Hughes – 28, Escondido, CA
17 - Francisco Serrano – 34, San Pedro, MEX
18 - Benjamin Torvik – 29, Boulder, CO
No. - Name – Age, Hometown
31 - Emma Garrard – 33, Park City, UT
32 - Suzie Snyder – 33, Fredericksburg, VA
33 - Kara LaPoint – 28, Truckee, CA
34 - Sara Schuler – 34, Boulder, CO
35 - Debby Sullivan – 33, Rocklin, CA
36 - Caroline Colonna – 51, Taos, NM
37 - Lesley Paterson – 34, San Diego (Scotland)
38 - Rebecca Blatt – 35, Lakewood, CO
39 - Maia Ignatz – 34, Boulder, CO
40 - Katie Button – 29, Victoria, B.C., CAN
41 - Emily Bashton – 35, Richmond, VA
42 - Sara McLarty – 32, Clermont, FL
43 - Lauren Thompson – 28, Albuquerque, NM
44 - Brittany Webster – 27, Canmore, Alberta, CAN
45 - Melanie McQuaid – 41, Victoria, B.C., CAN