Catching Up With The Champ
There is never a dull moment in the life of reigning XTERRA World Champion Josiah Middaugh.
As the father of three who runs a full-time coaching business and is a community icon, the demands on his time are relentless … even on race week!
Case in point: Last night, just two days from one of the premier races of his season, he was one of the featured celebrities in the Star Dancing Gala, a benefit for the Vail Valley Foundation’s Youth Power 365 program. It’s a big deal, and required a ton of practice time to nail down a routine.
“I was excited to be able to help out,” said Middaugh. “It’s for the Vail Valley Foundation. The charity is Youth Power 365, and I see a direct benefit with my kids because that organization takes up a lot of the slack where the school funding falls short with after school programs and educational/recreational stuff in the community good that is really great for kids.”
We caught up with Middaugh to learn more about the dance, and other random things…
XTERRA: So, what dance did you do?
Middaugh: The Napoleon's dynamite “Vote for Pedro” dance routine, it was pretty funny.
XT: Video evidence?
JM: We’ll see.
XT: Through the years with you living here in Eagle-Vail and around Beaver Creek have you seen the general awareness for the sport of XTERRA increase?
JM: Yes, definitely. When I first moved here it was a strong mountain bike community that dabbled in other stuff but it certainly wasn’t a triathlon community. Over the years, however, as a direct result of XTERRA, that has developed. There is an XTERRA community here, training groups, and a lot of rides and runs. The community is aware of XTERRA, even people that don’t do XTERRA are aware of it with re-runs of the race shows on the TV all the time, and the local press that covers it like a real sport. It’s a fun place to live and clearly has a lot of great facilities and options for endurance sports enthusiasts.
XT: Your oldest boy Sullivan, 12-years-old, is doing the Sprint race by himself on Saturday. Are you more anxious about his race or yours?
JM: I’ll be more nervous about his race for sure. For me, I know what to expect. For him, I’ll be worried about him as a father, but he’s got it figured it out I think. He’ll be fine, he’ll be worried less than me.
XT: What’s your favorite part of this course, or what about it do you enjoy the most?
JM: I enjoy the fact that you have to dig deep and push yourself. There is no easy way around it, and you’ve got to test your limits to meet your goals.
XT: And where is the most challenging spot on this course?
JM: Coming off the bike and starting the run up Aspen Glade. It’s hard to know what you have in your legs until you hit that climb. Some years it has been good, and some years I’ve found the well is dry.
XT: How worried should visiting athletes be about running into Bears or other wildlife out there?
JM: I worry more about hitting tourists than I do hitting bears. I’ve seen a bear maybe twice in 16 years here, but tourists are always around. You’ve got to be careful coming around a blind corner and finding someone on a leisurely hike.
XT: What have you seen out there?
JM: I saw two mountain lions by arrowhead five years ago during the winter. Saw a moose, elk, deer. I did see a black bear running the other way during the race a few years back.
XT: What one piece of advice have you been consistently giving to your athletes racing this weekend?
JM: Mainly to pace yourself, kind of in all three disciplines, because you don’t get many breaks on this course. You’ve got to consider the entirety of the race and not blow yourself up during the first couple minutes of any of the three disciplines.
XT: You’ve been racing XTERRA for 15+ years, do you have a favorite XTERRA shirt that you still wear?
JM: Yeah, I still wear the Maui 2002 shirt all the time. One of those old grey shirts, cool colors, basic design thin cotton.
XT: Having traveled all over the world with XTERRA, what do you say to the big group of international athletes who have traveled here to your backyard?
JM: We welcome all the visiting athletes with open arms. That’s the spirit of XTERRA to get out and live more, and that’s what we want people to see in this destination just like the other ones. It’s an amazing place. Enjoy the environment, and take a break from your busy lifestyle.