Last month at the XTERRA World Championship, Mimi Stockton (#271) captured her fifth age group title. She has won four times in the 40-44 division, and this year, she added the 45-59 age group win to her collection.
According to Stockton, the stars aligned for her at this year's world championship race.
"All the little pieces have to come together perfectly for you to win. I just had one of those days."
While this may sound like a normal response coming from most people, when Stockton says it, it recalls a certain scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian - the one when the Black Knight gets his arm chopped off and says, 'tis but a scratch.
Three days before the race, Stockton was riding the course and had a pretty bad crash.
"I saw a bird or something, who knows. See this is what happens when you take your eyes off the trail!"
Stockton hit a rock, flew off her bike, and landed on her right side.
"I thought I hurt my knee because it was bleeding, but after I got back, I found a hematoma the size of a golf ball on my right forearm," said Stockton. "I thought holy cow, that's going to be really sore. Then I woke up Friday morning and couldn't move my arm - what I really injured was my deltoid. I couldn’t lift my arm above my ribs and I thought how am I going to swim?"
Stockton took a rare day off on Saturday, and on Sunday, before the race, she ran into Lorenn Walker, from Oahu.
"Lorenn said, 'I'm taking you to the medical tent because there's an amazing trainer there and she's going to hook you up.' The trainer massaged me and put on a bunch of icy heat and whispered in my ear, 'Go take 800 milligrams of ibuprofin. That mixed with some adrenaline and you'll be OK."
So did it hurt during the XTERRA World Championship?
"It hurt like crazy," admitted Stockton. "But I forced it to move to get through the water, and by the time I got on the bike, I stopped feeling it."
Stockton is a natural mountain biker. She has exceptional balance, excellent skills, and an uncommon fearlessness. The worst part for her was that she had to pass so many men.
"That's my only complaint - that age group women go last. It's hard for the fast women to have to pass all the men who have started earlier."
Still, Stockton had a blast on the bike. She didn't need her arm, she crushed the climbs, and flew on the downhills. Even better, when she came into transition, her ten-year old daughter, Summer, said, "You got this Mom. You're first in your age group. There's no one else."
In fact, Stockton did so well on the bike that her split of 2:11:48 was nine minutes faster than her nearest competitor. On the run, Stockton broke up the course into sections and tackled them one at a time.
"The first two miles are absolute hell. You come off a crazy hard bike ride and then start climbing. But the reason I love the run course on Maui so much is that if you can suffer through the uphills, you can just tear it up on the downhills."
Even though Stockton knew she was first in her age group, she didn't let off for a second.
"You know who I was thinking about the whole time?" asked Stockton. "Amy Carver. She motivated me. I knew she could show up at any time so I just kept pushing."
And after the race?
Stockton admits she was too tired to attend the Halloween Party that night. And after racing so hard with an injury, she had every right to make tracks to the Ritz Carlton spa.
Instead, she took her three kids hiking on the Dragon Teeth Trail and then they all went cliff jumping at Namalu Bay.
"I always feel bad," said Stockton. "They sit around all day waiting for me to finish racing. I want them to have fun too."
After a pause, Stockton adds that her mom, who also came to Maui, was a bit worried about her. "She kept asking me, 'What are you doing?'"
Knowing Stockton, her response was probably something along the lines of, "I'm fine, Mom. It's only a flesh wound."