Yaro Middaugh and Jess White fought hard for their XTERRA Blackwater off-road triathlon titles. They had solid competition in a sold-out field for the third year in a row.
“It was a close competitive race all day,” said Middaugh, who also runs Middaugh Coaching with his brother, the 2015 XTERRA World Champion, Josiah Middaugh. “I started out too hard on the swim and paid for it on the first lap of the bike. There were two guys that I couldn’t reel in until the end of the second lap. About five of us rolled into the run transition together, which made for some excitement. McMule (Ryan McMullen) put in a little surge and put a gap on me. I kept it close and put in a surge at the end. He was tough and I was lucky to squeak out the win.”
The women’s race was also a fight to the finish between newcomer Jess White, Jessica Bibza, and Heidi Gaertner, who was first out of the water in 10:57, over a minute ahead of White. “I was glad to learn that wet suits were legit as I am a wimp when it comes to the cold,” said the winner, Jess White. “The swim was smooth but I came out of the water not really knowing how many women were ahead of me. I attacked the bike hard, but the course was super fast, and I was caught by Jessica Bibza in the last 15 minutes or so. We were back and forth into the transition and then Heidi passed me on the run. I kept trying to run her down but she’s fast and I was only able to pass with about two miles left. It was a serious battle to the end.”
“The first race of the season is always tough,” admitted Middaugh, who is gunning for a ticket to the XTERRA World Championship by qualifying at XTERRA Oak Mountain next month. “I trained consistently all winter but definitely not enough on the bike. I was still scraping Maui mud off the tires this week.”
White is a relative newcomer to XTERRA. “I’ve been racing road triathlons for the last two years. I did a few XTERRA races last year, and that was all it took. I’m hooked and love the atmosphere and fun of off-road racing.” White’s focus is to transition solely to XTERRA races under the guidance of coach Katie Malone.
Race director, Ben Dillon, credits the success of XTERRA Blackwater to dedicated event coordinators, volunteers, and community support. "It's an honor and a privilege to be able to produce XTERRA events," said Dillon. "The best part is sharing the experience and seeing the smiles on peoples' faces as they cross the finish."
Dillon adds that the course lends itself to exciting racing because of the flat, non-technical bike course, which allows racers to work together. "It’s also fun for spectators to see a group transition together and battle it out on the run.”
XTERRA Blackwater was the second race in the XTERRA America Tour, and the first of nine in the Southeast Region. Next up in the series is XTERRA Myrtle Beach on April 23rd. To find how the series works and see the full schedule visit XTERRA America Tour.