On Sunday, July 22nd, the XTERRA Midwest Regional Series is officially at its halfway point with XTERRA Ionia in Ionia, Michigan. Taking advantage of the amazing weather in the Great Lakes Region this time of year, XTERRA Ionia will lead athletes on a half-mile swim, a 12.5 mile bike ride, and 3.4 mile run. The wide beach at Sessions Lake gives athletes plenty of room to spread out, the large transition area is great for spectators, and the short run is plenty of fun with punchy hills and foot bridges.
Because races in the XTERRA Midwest Region are so spread out, XTERRA Ionia is great way to scoop up points towards the XTERRA Regional Championship title and a qualifying spot at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui.
Some athletes, including Michael Drackert, Dan Ballheimer, Mike Barro, and Kristen Wade, have already qualified for Maui by virtue of their finish at XTERRA Oak Mountain in May and XTERRA Costa Rica in March.
It's worth mentioning this because these same athletes are also in the running for the XTERRA Midwest Regional titles. Not that you would know, because the Midwest athletes aren't just humble, they are nice. Like really nice. Sometimes it's a challenge to learn how the race went down because they are so busy talking about how great their competitors did. These athletes don't just support each other's races and travel together, they even camp together, turning XTERRA events into weekend-long festivals.
"In 2017 we had a blast traveling to races with the Ballheimers," said XTERRA Midwest athlete, Lara Houseman. "We even carpooled out to XTERRA Panther Creek with Dan’s dad, Ken. Even with 18 hours in the car in two days and a tough race, it was a fantastic weekend."
Michael Drackert routinely travels long distances to races and camps in his tricked-out van, and if you see the Wades, you can be assured that you will be welcomed into the fold. Additionally, Mike Barro and Larry Klutenkamper will be there with tons of encouragement, big smiles, and loads of praise for the race directors.
But, in true XTERRA fashion, these athletes are all business once their swim caps are on. Brutal winters have made them tough and when the snow melts, they are ready show off the results of all those indoor hours spent with Zwift.
Currently, the biggest battle for an XTERRA regional title is in the men's 30-34 age group. Tyler Guggemos is in the lead with 400 points, followed closely by Michael Drackert with 392 and Brandon Wyant with 252. Dan Ballheimer is leading the 35-39 age group with 175 points with Oliver Shepherd behind him with 119 points. In the 40-44 bracket, Ralph Nurse has the lead with 122 points while Brad Scholtz is killing it in the 45-49 division with 298 points. Joe Pawlish is behind him with 195 points and Karl Stover has 150.
In the 50-54 age group, Chris Halioris is in the lead with 194 points over Mike Sutherland with 145 while Randy Miller is dominating the 55-59 division with 121 points and Bob Schultz is leading the 60-64 bracket with 124 points.
For the women, Emma Coakley (who may have gills judging by how fast she is in the water) is leading the 25-29 division with 225 points while Kristen Wade is leading the 35-39 division with 240 points. Jennifer Horstmann is on top in the 35-39 division with 125 points while Amy Henning is ahead of Mimi Stockton in the 45-49 bracket, 173 points to 150.
In the 50-54 division, Chrissy Halioris is leading with 392 points while Bev Enslow has the 60-64 division locked down with 60-64 points.
Whatever happens at XTERRA Ionia, you just know it's going to be a party. And the only trouble you will have is convincing the guy next to you that no, he really should go first.
Learn more about XTERRA Ionia.