XTERRA Beaver Creek, coming up on July 20 in Avon, Colorado, is the highest altitude race on the XTERRA Pan Am Tour, and one of those peak experiences that you shouldn’t miss if you can help it.
Last year, the women’s amateur race was all about Tess Amer coming back from injuries and having an incredible day (and then going pro) while in the men’s race, Francisco Gonzalez traveled all the way from Chile to take the amateur title.
Even more than ace athletic performances, XTERRA Beaver Creek is always a gathering of kindred spirits, who care as much about their playground in the Rockies as they do about their swim, bike, and run splits. Matching the purity of the mountain air, the course at XTERRA Beaver Creek is true triathlon at its finest - which ultimately is about meeting challenges head on, keeping your chin up, and wishing the best for everyone around you, including yourself.
In the men’s race, Robbie Day will again be charging hard in the 15-19 division. At last year’s XTERRA Pan Am Championship, Day was seriously impressive and won his age group by more than 15 minutes.
In the 20-24 and the 25-29 divisions, we are going to see a lot of new faces. None of last year’s champs are returning, but in their stead, we look forward to watching Josh Nyberg, Kyle White, and Blaise Snowberg duke it out in the 20-24 age group. In the 25-29 division, the race is wide open. Wyatt Stanland was second at XTERRA Fruita last September and Colin Grey was third, so look for another Colorado rematch at Beaver Creek.
The 30-34 age group – like the two preceding – has no returning champs. But George Mainas won his age group at XTERRA Deuces Wild and Alistair Ratcliff won XTERRA Fruita last fall, so we know there is a race to be had with these young guns.
Moving up to the 35-39 division, Herve Orgeas was fourth at XTERRA Oak Mountain this year, Steve Acuna placed second at XTERRA Fruita, and Jaycob Ross was third at XTERRA Deuces Wild. Last year, Orgeas finished 10th at XTERRA Beaver Creek but did considerably better in the races in his South Central region, suggesting that he had an off day in Vail last time. This year may be his chance for redemption and a spot on the podium.
The 40-44 age group is as competitive as ever. 2017 XTERRA Pan Am Champ and 2019 XTERRA Oak Mountain amateur champ Mike Dorr could be leading the pack as Beaver Creek is his home turf. However, he has some tough competition. Yaro Middaugh was right behind him at XTERRA Oak Mountain and won his division at XTERRA Fort Yargo. Mike Gommel was seventh last year at the XTERRA Pan Am Championship, won his age group at XTERRA Fruita, was third at XTERRA Lory this June, and third at XTERRA Knoxville, while Scott McCalmon won this age group at XTERRA Lory. Expect Manny Pena, who was right in the middle of the pack of the 35-39 age group in Utah last fall, to also be in the mix.
Last year’s Beaver Creek 40-44 age group champ - C.J. Castle - is moving up to the 45-49 age group this year where he will be giving Eric Snowberg and Scott Silver a solid race. Both were on the podium last year and are solid in all three disciplines. Snowberg is always out of the water quickly, but Castle is a technical master on the bike. So far this year, Snowberg was second at XTERRA Oak Mountain and won his age group at XTERRA Lory while Silver was second at Lory.
In the 50-54 age group, we see a few more returning champs in the form of 2017 XTERRA World Champ Greg Zgliczynski and Rick Zimmerman, who finished first and second at Beaver Creek last year.
In the 55-59 division, Karl Edgerton will be strong as always. The former swimmer is also a master on the bike. Moving up a division, look for Jeff Culler – who was third at XTERRA Bluebonnet and fourth at XTERRA Rockhopper - to be challenging last year’s champ, Tom Monica, who never hands anyone a victory if he can help it.
In the 65-69 age group, look for Bill Blankenship to be out in front, judging by his third-place finish at XTERRA Oak Mountain this May. Kurt Dallow – who won this age group at XTERRA Lory – will be a contender as will Wes Little, who won this division at XTERRA Rockhopper last October and was fourth at Oak Mountain this year.
In the 70-74 division, David Rakita will be out to show that his elite son Branden, gets his talent from his dad.
In the 15-19 category, Colorado resident, Hannah Livingston, will be showing us how it’s done as will Riley Schumm in the 20-24 category.
In the 25-29 division look for Emily Cameron and Abigail Bird. Cameron, a former NCAA champion swimmer, was the fastest amateur at XTERRA Oak Mountain, while Bird won her age group at XTERRA Lory. Caitlin Bowerman, who was third at XTERRA Oak Mountain will also be looking to mix things up.
In the 30-34 category, look for Amelia Van Dyke, who was second in this division at XTERRA Oak Mountain and won her age group at XTERRA Lory last month. Last year, Van Dyke was also second at the XTERRA Pan Am Championship in Utah.
Moving up a division, look for California-resident, Sian Crespo to be fierce. In June, Crespo was second overall at XTERRA Tahoe City, and last year, she won her age bracket at XTERRA Oak Mt, was second at the XTERRA Pan Am Championship, and won her division at XTERRA Victoria. XTERRA newcomer, Liz McLean, who was second in her division at XTERRA Lory, may also give chase.
Moving up a division, we will definitely see the waters churning in the wake of last year’s age group champ, Deanna McCurdy, who is now racing with the elites. Jill Sorensen, who was third last year, will be returning, as will Lindsay Jackson, who was third at the XTERRA Pan Am Championship last year and second at XTERRA Oak Mountain this past May. And we can’t discount Kirsten DeHart, Laura Larisch, and Holly Wright, who finished fourth in this race last year.
In the 45-59 age group, Anne Nevin is back. The Norway resident travels to Colorado in July to visit family, and as a former professional cyclist and cross-country skier, she is definitely at home on the dirt. She loves riding on the trails, running with her dogs, and skiing in the winter … which translate into some pretty fast splits in off-road triathlon. Nevin will be up against XTERRA Regional Champ, Kiki Silver, who never disappoints. Silver was second at Beaver Creek last year behind Nevin and won her age group at XTERRA Lory this June. Similarly, Kimberly Larson just finished second in her division at XTERRA Tahoe City. Last year, Larson’s season was cut short after XTERRA Victoria due to injury, so it’s great to have her back. She spent five months this winter training in the Arizona mountains, so expect her to handle the thin air of Vail with her usual grace.
Moving up to the 50-54 bracket, Patty Smaldone and Michelle Blankenship should be close after finishing second and third in this age group at XTERRA Oak Mountain this past May. Former 50-54 age-grouper and XTERRA Pan Am Champ Paula Maresh will be moving up a bracket this year. She just won her division at XTERRA Lory and will be going up against Sharon McDowell-Larson, who won XTERRA Beaver Creek last year and XTERRA Fruita last fall. However, they are both going to have to fight off Susan Moote, who won this division at XTERRA Oak Mountain this past May. Blanche Teyssier, who was behind Moote in Alabama may also be in the mix.
Maureen Sanderson and Gail Waldman will be carrying the 60-64 age group. Sanderson was second in Alabama in May and was on the podium for XTERRA Fort Yargo this spring. Waldman hasn’t raced yet this year. In the 65-69 division, long-time XTERRA Tribe member, Libby Harrow is returning after a second-place finish at Beaver Creek last year and a win at Lory last month.
With only days to go until the big race, we can’t wait to land to get to Avon to watch these incredible athletes. As always, we expect more experienced and new faces to show up at the starting line and to be wowed by the show of grit, grace, and guts XTERRA athletes consistently display.