Brent Mattison and Lesley Paterson captured the elite titles at XTERRA Portland on August 4, 2018.
Mattison won the race in 2:07:21, while Humberto Rivera and Nate Youngs had a close race and finished in 2:08:05 and 2:08:07, respectively.
In the women’s race, Paterson hit her groove at mile five on the bike and finished in 2:15:16. Suzie Snyder, in here second XTERRA of the year, was second in 2:22:13 and Anne Usher was third in 2:29:58.
The race took place just outside of Portland at Hagg Lake in Forest Grove with a two-lap, 1K lake swim, a 27.5K mountain bike ride on two laps of amazing single track, and a two-lap 10K trail run.
Paterson didn't have her best start at the swim.
"I pranced over the stony beach for the Le Mans-style start like I was in a Tony Robbin's firewalk but before I'd taken the seminar," she said, with her typical deadpan humor. "I was pathetic and entered the water dead last."
Similarly, Mattison didn't have the swim he was hoping for either.
"It was an exciting and unique swim start that had us sprinting 50 yards along the beach before jumping into the lake for a mad dash to the first buoy," said Mattison. "I was looking for the feet of Jessie Koltz or Chris Bagg, who both have strong swims, but couldn’t manage their start pace and ended up swimming side by side with Suzie Snyder most the race."
In the men's race, Todd Stackhouse, Matt Berg, Chris Bagg, and Nate Youngs were out of the water first.
Mattison exited the water 30 seconds behind Bagg and maintained that gap after transition.
"The bike is my strength, so making up time to Bagg and gaining some distance on Humberto and Ganter was my main focus," said Mattison, who mistakenly left his swim skin half on and pulled over to take it off. In the process, he lost time on Bagg and gave Rivera a chance to catch up. However, Mattison felt strong and dropped the hammer on the road climb and bridged the gap back to Bagg. "Once out front, I knew I’d have Ganter and Humberto chasing hard, but I felt a solid ride would build a minute or two buffer for the run."
Unfortunately, about 45 minutes into the ride Mattison picked the worst possible timeto grab a gel off his top tube. He accidentally clipped a tree with his right handlebar, which sent him flying over the handlebars and landing hard on his shoulder and head.
"After determining I wasn’t dead and that my bike was surprisingly undamaged, I hopped back on and was back in the race," said Mattison gamely. Unfortunately for him, Rivera dropped a fast bike split and he was able to make up some space on the gap. Additionally, Rivera had a lightning fast T2 while Mattison committed to wearing socks because of blisters in previous races. As a result, out of T2, Rivera was in front by about 10 seconds and had the fastest bike split of the day.
"My race plan was to negative split the run, and once we hit the pavement climb on the first loop, I could see that Humberto hadn’t run away from me, and I felt a surge of motivation to keep at it," said Mattison.
Mattison stuck to his pacing and was able to catch and pass Rivera on lap two.
"At that point, I went full gas and made it hurt for the last two miles. After hitting the final stretch, and with no Humberto in sight, I knew the race was won and a Slip'n'Slide was awaiting my arrival."
Mattison made his elite debut only this year at XTERRA Oak Mountain, where he finished ninth.
"This was my first win as an elite athlete," said Mattison. "In many ways, it's going to be a race I'll never forget. Crashing hard and finishing in considerable pain wasn’t what I had planned on, but I knew I’d regret if I’d given up after being in the lead, so I’m real proud of the effort I gave to see it to the end."
Paterson didn't have nearly as rough of a day. On the bike, Paterson sailed through, riding part of the way with Suzie Snyder.
"Fast, flowy, twisty, single track," said Paterson. "What's not to love? I knew I had to be aggressive and at one point, Suzie and I were both fighting spring loaded branches to the face, but it felt true to XTERRA - part bike race, part obstacle course. You can tell this course was designed by athletes for athletes."
After the first lap on the bike course, Paterson was alone out in front. She has been focusing on speed and put her training to the test at XTERRA Portland.
"Oh man, I felt like I was flying," she said. "I wanted to hit the first mile with crazy high leg turnover because I knew that later on, the course would be difficult to hit at full tilt. Plus, I know these girls can run so I wanted to build a buffer in case I found myself chewing dirt on other parts of the course."
When asked about her favorite part of the day, Paterson had a hard time focusing on just one aspect.
"The spirit of the volunteers was amazing," she said. "They are out there baking in the sun and yet the still had the energy to be our personal cheer squad. Secondly, as we Scots say, the Slip'n'Slide was pure dead brilliant. Finally, the Portland-themed prizes? Cold local microbrew in a tin cup at the finish line? Shut the front door."