Josiah Middaugh and Emma Garrard were named the USA Triathlon Elite Off-Road Triathletes of the Year for the third straight year this week while Cole Bunn and Julie Baker won the USAT amateur off-road triathletes of the year awards.
Middaugh, 37, of Eagle-Vail, Colorado, has been America’s best for more than a decade now and won the XTERRA World Championship in his 15th try on November 1.
Garrard, 35, of Park City, Utah, has just gotten better-and-better these past three years and in 2015 broke through by winning the XTERRA USA Championship, the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series, the USAT Off-Road National Title. She also placed a career-best third at XTERRA Worlds.
In the amateur division Cole Bunn, a 19-year-old sophomore at CU-Boulder, had a breakthrough day at Nationals to finish as the top amateur, 13th overall. In a field that featured 20 elite men Bunn posted the 9th best swim, 17th fastest bike and 12th quickest run. He finished 1:33 ahead of the 2013 overall amateur champ Matthew Balzer, who was the runner-up for the award.
Bunn, who has been racing XTERRA since 2012 and also won the 15-19 division national title in 2013, credits the CU triathlon team he trains with for his steady improvement the past two years.
Julie Baker (pictured above on the top step at Worlds), 39, from Sonora, California ran away with the award in the women’s amateur division. She finished as the top amateur (fourth overall) at XTERRA Nationals and was also the top amateur at XTERRA Worlds. Of note, Liz Gruber was right behind Baker in both Utah and Maui and was also the runner-up for this award.
The question for Baker now is, will you go pro?
“I have been considering an elite license, just because it would be so fun to line up and race head to head with all those awesome women...but I might be too old and decrepit. :) If I can stay healthy I might go for it. I am always really inspired by the older competitors out there, especially the older women, who might have grown up in a culture where sports weren't as accessible or encouraged as they are now.”
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).