Year 3: XTERRA Worlds, Circa 1998
The third edition of the XTERRA World Championship in 1998 is when “Deadly Nedly” truly put his mark on XTERRA.
As a pro mountain biker, Ned Overend achieved legendary status. He won six national titles and became mountain biking’s first world champion in 1990, the same year he was inducted into the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame.
After retiring from mountain biking in 1996 at the age of 40, Overend competed in the first Aquaterra race, finishing third that day. In 1997, he finished second. And in 1998 and '99, Ned won consecutive XTERRA World Championships at the ripe young age of 42 and 43.
We caught up with Ned to see what he remembered from his ’98 XTERRA World Championship…
“Lets see, honestly some of my memories of those XTERRA worlds can blend together,” said Overend. “As I recall that may have been the first time Wes and Tobin raced in Maui so I had more experience there after finishing 3rd in 96 and 2nd in 97. I was always working on the swim and I think in ‘98 I only lost 2-3 minutes. It was important for me to start the mtn bike leg fast and try to get by as many people as possible before we hit the single track. I knew from previous years that a full suspension bike was an asset and that I had to set up the tires for flat protection with sealant and use higher air pressure to prevent flats. I had tailored my training to be ready for a hot run in soft sand. Running in sand took a different technique, quick turnover, shorter stride and use a wide shoe sole for flotation on the sand. I would drive from Durango south to New Mexico to ride in the heat and then run in some of the sandy desert washes to simulate Makena Beach. I knew I had to come off the bike first with a time cushion on Jimmy, Wes, Pigg and Tobin so I didn't hold back on the bike leg.”
Not holding back might be an understatement. He posted the fastest bike split by more than five minutes on the likes of Riccitello and Hobson. That said, it was a solid run that carried him to victory.
“The key for me was to put together a consistent run, which I did that year,” Overend explains. “I remember I had to be careful jumping over the fallen logs because my hamstrings would cramp when I lifted my leg up to step over them. When you were racing in that heat things can fall apart really fast as we saw when several people (I think maybe Shari Kain) collapsed on the beach within sight of the finish line. I was never sure of the win until I looked back on that last stretch of beach. It was a great feeling!”
In the women’s race (as XTERRA Hall of Famer Scott Schumaker wrote in his post-race report) Sue Latshaw “didn’t have the fastest swim time. Wendy Ingraham controlled that. Latshaw didn’t have the fastest bike split either. That went to last year’s second-place finisher Leslie Tomlinson who cranked out a 1:48:38. Latshaw didn’t even have the fastest run. Germany’s Uli Blank claimed that with a 46:43. Instead, Latshaw had what counted most. She had the fastest women’s time at the finish line.”
1998 also marked the first year of the “Double” – a special prime for those who put together the fastest combined times at Ironman Worlds and XTERRA Worlds (held just a week apart at the time). There were 30 racers who did both that year. Ingraham won the women’s Double by finishing 8th at XTERRA and 10th at IM, while IM winner Peter Reid took it for the men with a sixth place finish in Maui.
See what it all looked like back in 1998 with XTERRA’s flashback to Worlds video series in the buildup to the 20th running of the greatest off-road triathlon ever.