Sam Osborne and Suzie Snyder grabbed the headlines for winning the elite races at the XTERRA Oak Mountain off-road triathlon on May 18, 2019 in Shelby County, Alabama, but behind them, hundreds of amateur off-roaders were giving it their all in pursuit of division wins and XTERRA World Championship qualifying spots. This piece is devoted to them.
Sam Osborne and Suzie Snyder grabbed the headlines for winning the elite races at the XTERRA Oak Mountain off-road triathlon on May 18, 2019 in Shelby County, Alabama, but behind them hundreds of amateur off-roaders were giving it there all in pursuit of division wins and XTERRA World Championship qualifying spots. This piece is devoted to them.
In the men’s amateur race Mike Dorr from Vail, Colorado edged Charlie Ledford from Otto, North Carolina by 34-seconds to win the overall title.
Dorr, a trainer and coach in Vail, Colorado, began working with 2015 XTERRA World Champ, Josiah Middaugh last December, whom he credits with helping him take his performance to the next level.
“I wasn’t going into the race thinking I could win top amateur,” said Dorr. “But I knew I could do well if I had a good swim. It’s been great working with Josiah. I coach other people, so I am usually the last person on the totem pole. Now, Josiah sends me workouts and I get out there and do them.”
After a solid swim, Dorr soon caught up to Josiah’s brother Yaro Middaugh, and was then passed by Caleb Baity, who finished 16th overall and first in the 25-29 age group.
“Caleb is really good at those trails and a great technical rider,” said Dorr. “I got on his wheel and let him find the lines. At mile six on big climb, I went by him and then I caught Marcus Barton on the hill about halfway up. I didn’t know what position I was in. Once I got through Blood Rock, I knew I was close to the front because I didn’t see anyone.”
The women’s top amateur was former University of Georgia swimmer, Emily Cameron. While in college, she contributed to two NCAA team titles in addition to earning 11-time All-American honors. After completing her college eligibility in March of 2017, she joined her mother in walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, which takes about a week.
“As soon as I got back, I said, ‘I’ve had enough of walking. I need to do something.’ That’s how I dove headfirst into the triathlon world. Absolutely no regrets.”
As she was making her transition to triathlon, Cameron spent hours on a stationary bike because she was too scared to get on a road bike. She rode a trainer in her swim coach’s garage for four to five hours at a time.
“I was told that the best way to get good at cycling was to put a lot of time on the bike,” said Cameron. “So, I took that to heart.”
To keep herself motivated, she watched cycling and climbing documentaries. Eventually she got involved in group rides in Athens, Georgia. In November 2018, after just a year into the sport, she was 10th at the USA Triathlon women’s collegiate national championship in Tempe, Arizona.
Needless to say, she not only overcame her fear of the roads, but has conquered the off-road as well.
“I first hopped on a mountain bike at my boyfriend’s brother’s wedding last August,” she said. “That was about the most fun I’ve ever had doing anything. After 17 years of staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool, XTERRA is incredibly freeing. It involves all skills. Mountain biking keeps me really present and I love that aspect the most.”
During the race Cameron was fifth out of the water, beating many of the elite men and also had the fastest bike and run splits in her 25-29 age group as well.
(L-R; LEDFORD, DOOR, LEGG)
In the men’s 15-19 category, Reed Legg had the fastest time of 2:51:02 in his first standard-distance XTERRA. He has been competing in the Sprint at XTERRA Oak Mountain since 2016, and it’s clear that he was ready for the next step up. An excellent swimmer, Legg also had the fastest mountain bike split for his age group in addition to the quickest swim. In the lake, Reed was up with the elites and was eighth out of the water and finished 14th overall, which is an incredible performance for a teenager.
“I had some challenges with nutrition on the run but enjoyed the amazing mountain bike trails,” said Legg. “I look forward to racing here again next year.”
In the 20-24 division, Christian Acker’s 3:05:09 led the way for Blake Norman (3:18:39) and Parker Roberts (3:38:17). Norman had the fastest swim and bike, but Acker smoked the run with a split of 43:58.
Caleb Baity, who is a master of Southern trails claimed the 25-29 title with a time of 2:51:30 and the fastest swim, bike, and run splits. He finished ahead of Dalton Guggemos (3:22:00) and Dennis Cook (3:35:38).
“My race went well,” said Baity. “My swim was faster than it normally is which helped get me into a good position starting the bike. I had an early issue with a cracked bottle cage, but nothing I couldn’t work through. I was able to make my way through a lot of traffic on the trails to get up close to the lead amateur pack heading into T2. Once I was running, I was able to see a few other amateurs ahead of me, which kept me motivated.”
Dwayne Dixon enthusiastically climbed to the top step of the 30-34 age group. Dixon’s time of 2:51:45 put him close to Baity. Tyler Guggemos was second in 3:01:32 and Conrad Taylor was third in 3:15:44.
“This course is by far, one of my favorites on the XTERRA circuit,” said Dixon. “I really enjoy the two-lap swim course and the bike course is amazing. Great climbing and really fast and fun descents. The run course, while brutally hot, is enjoyable as well. I look forward to more racing with the Tribe this season.”
One division up, Charlie Ledford qualified for the XTERRA World Championship on Maui in his first-ever XTERRA and loved every minute of the experience. Ledford began running a few years ago when he gave up alcohol. He approached local coach, Jim Byrd, who wasn’t sure he wanted to work with Ledford because he was so new to the sport.
“Go run a 5K and tell me your time,” said Byrd at the time.
“I didn’t even know what a 5K was but after I told Coach Byrd I ran it in 17 minutes, he said he’d coach me.”
Ledford won his 35-39 division in 2:50:28 and was followed in by Wes Anderson in 2:51:24 and Kyle Grieser in 2:53:07. While Ledford had the fastest run split, Grieser claimed the top time on the bike while Anderson was first out of the water.
In the 40-44 age group, Michael Dorr won it with Yaro Middaugh and Ralph Nurse in second and third with times of 3:00:28 and 3:00:44, respectively, in a very tight race. Middaugh led the age group out of the water while Dorr had the fastest bike and run splits.
In the 45-49 division, Marcus Barton won with a time of 2:54:19 by putting together solid performances in all three disciplines. Once again, Eric Snowberg and Karl Stover finished close together in 2:57:58 and 2:58:52, respectively. Stover had the fastest split on the bike for the age group but Snowberg edged him out with the fastest run and swim splits.
In the 50-54 cohort, David Meadows came through in 3:02:08 and was followed by Donny Forsyth in 3:04:57. Brad Scholtz was third in 3:05:06 and Jason Childre was fourth in 3:09:04. Jim Fisher, who finished sixth, had the quickest swim split, Childre was king on the bike, and Forsyth was fastest on the run.
In the 55-59 age group, Mike Carter crossed the line in 3:18:15, about a minute ahead of Karl Edgerton, who finished in 3:19:24. Robert Pair was third in 3:22:07 and had the fastest run split. Edgerton, a former competitive swimmer, nabbed the quickest time in the lake while Carter claimed the fastest time on the bike.
Cliff Millemann won the 60-64 age group with a time of 3:16:28 and the fastest swim and bike splits. He was followed in by Bruce Wilson (3:19:40) and George Lester (3:28:34). Wilson had the quickest time on the run.
Moving up, Frank George had a great day in the 65-69 division with the fastest time in all three sports. He finished in 3:49:05. Michael Berger was second in 4:06:12 and Bill Blankenship was third in 4:12:50. Alan Moore was the 70-74 age group champ in 3:51:58 and Dale Vaughn won the 75 and up division in 4:11:50.
(L-R; BAYER, CAMERON, SORENSEN)
Staci Lovell captured the 15-19 age group title in her first-time racing XTERRA Oak Mountain, which also happened to be the day before her birthday.
“Obviously, I won because I was the only one in my age group,” said Lovell. “But I like to think if there were others, I could have given them a run for their money. I am very happy with my race. I would have liked a better swim, but I was able to kill it on the bike, which is not usually my strongest leg. I loved that I was able to get on the top step today, but that’s not why I’m out there. It’s just amazing to be with family and friends all weekend and I wouldn’t want to have spent my sweet 16th any other way.”
In the 25-29 age group, Emily Cameron led Heather Wilson (3:25:05) and Caitlin Bowerman (3:41:04).
In the next group up, Amanda Bayer proved that last year was no fluke. She had the second fastest amateur time of the day and finished the race in 3:11:06 with the fastest swim, bike, and run splits in her age group, despite a big move to the Midwest and a new job.
“I wanted to do well, but I was also willing to forgive myself if life cost me a couple of places,” said Bayer. “Last year I put a ton of pressure on myself for performance and this year I came in really relaxed. I was excited just to race and excited to visit with my parents who came over from Texas to cheer. In some ways I think that mind frame set me up for a lot of success.”
Bayer also raced smarter this year. “This was the most consistent I ever raced throughout the day. Normally I just red line it and hope for the best. Maybe it’s the maturity of being in that next age bracket, but I think I figured out how to race smarter. Here's hoping that translates to the rest of the season.”
Amelia Vandyke was second in the 30-34 age group in 3:30:48 and Laura Becker was third in 4:03:52.
In the 35-39 division, Amelia McCracken’s 3:29:53 led Jess White (3:31:37) and Jennifer Horstmann.
“The day went well for me,” said McCracken. “My main goals were to work with what I had on the day, have fun, thank volunteers and encourage others. That may sound cheesy but it’s true. I have learned through racing, that no matter what level you are at, you can plan and plan, but nothing ever happens perfectly, and you have to roll with it. Sometimes life gets in the way and sometimes you get in your own way, but you have to focus on the positives and little victories because it's about the journey.”
In the 40-44 age group, Jill Sorensen crossed the line first in 3:16:45 ahead of Lindsay Jackson (3:24:43) and Angie DeFilippi (3:36:44).
In the 45-49 bracket, Jen Razee had a great day and finished in 3:23:30, ahead of Angie Childre (3:33:44) and Spryng Briggs (4:04:15). Razee also ran the 10K trail run the following day and was the first female.
“I aged up this year, so I had to take advantage of being the youngest in my age group,” said Razee. “The camaraderie of our Colorado crew and friends around the nation keeps me seeking out more opportunities to “race-cation” with off-road friends. I also was pretty excited for some sunshine and snow-free trails. We seem to have the never-ending winter going on in Vail this year! I think I'd only been on my mountain bike a handful of times before racing in Alabama.”
Kate Lucas, a twenty-year XTERRA veteran who first raced in XTERRA Richmond in 2000, led the 50-54 women in with a time of 3:44:40. Patty Smaldone was second in 3:51:17 and Michelle Blankenship was third in 3:55:21.
Lucas found mountain biking in the mid-90’s, and she has been going strong on the trails ever since.
“I grew up on a farm riding horses on the trails and I’ve always loved the outdoors. I played field hockey in college and tore my ACL. When my friends started mountain biking, I recognized it as a great way to protect my knee and get back on the trails.”
In the 55-59 age bracket, Susan Moote, finished first in a solid 3:42:49. Moote has an adventure-filled season ahead of her with plans to race at XTERRA Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Beaver Creek, Portland, McCall, Utah, and Maui! She retired last year and is doing it “because I can!”
Moote also arrived at Oak Mountain State Park on Monday and helped volunteer for XTERRA.
“Stuffing packets and prepping medals made XTERRA feel even more like a family,” she said. “It was great to meet the people behind the race. My swim was slow for some reason during the race, but once on the bike, I got going. That course is so much fun you forget the pain you are in. My coach wanted me to push the run, so it wasn’t as much fun as the bike. But I made friends with people all around me on the run and the bike and that’s what it’s all about.”
Also in the 55-59 division, Blanche Teyssier was second in 4:10:51 and Elaine Morison was third in 4:27:47.
In the 60-64 age group, Lucia Colbert finished in 4:08:19, leading in Maureen Sanderson (4:57:00) and Sharon Startup (5:15:57) while Sheri Schrock was the 65-69 champ in 4:41:52.
XTERRA Oak Mountain was Schrock’s first full-course XTERRA and her first race in Alabama.
“I’m from northern Minnesota,” she said. “I first rode single track last summer when I put plus-sized tires on my fatty. A month ago, I bought regular mountain bike tires and bam – here I am.”
However, the highlight for Schrock wasn’t the race itself but the pre-ride with former Mr. XTERRA, Casey Fannin.
“Casey took a handful of us up a shortcut to some technical sections like Blood Rock and Jekyll and Hyde,” she explained. “He stopped occasionally to point out features to watch for and to wait for me to catch up. Had I gone out on my own, I would have biked the entire course and trashed my legs, so it was awesome to be out there with a local who knows the trails, not to mention, is also an XTERRA legend.”
XTERRA Sprint and Xticer Races
The day also featured a sprint distance race which featured a 750-meter swim, a 17.1K mountain bike ride, and a 4.5K trail run. Andrew Stacey took top honors in 1:34:15, followed by Steve Hicks and Jackson Watts. Casey Fannin was fourth. In the women’s race Caroline O’Neil won it 1:51:30, ahead of Kendall Gordon and Tabitha Price.
In the Xticer race everyone was a winner, as this event is just about living the healthy, active, outdoors lifestyle and going for it! It combined a 200-meter swim, with a 9.5K mountain bike, and 2K trail run. Maddie Fisher was the overall champ as well as the first female. She finished in 46:58, and she also won the Suunto Showdown contest for correctly picking Suzie Snyder as the women’s winner. Hailey McCurdy (XTERRA elite Deanna McCurdy’s daughter) was second in 52:42, and Jill Allison was third in 56:27. For the men, Joseph Bell was first in 50:20 ahead of Tyler Noland who finished in 50:52. Sam Calvert was third in 52:30.
Find complete results from all three races here.
Read elite race recap at xterraplanet.com.