On July 21, XTERRA touched down in Michigan for XTERRA Ionia which showcased a new bike course with even more single track than before.
The half-mile swim, 12.5-mile bike and 3.4-mile run through Ionia State Recreation Area made a bargain with athletes and exchanged sweet babbling brooks and forested ridges for hardcore mud, sweat, and gears.
The day before the race, a storm rolled through and knocked out the power, but the race director, John Ploeg, took the matter in stride by removing as many trees from the course as he could, prior to the race.
Brad Scholtz, the XTERRA Ionia champ, was both humble and happy about his win.
“I didn’t go into the race with any expectations,” said Scholtz. “I was having so much fun working my way through the single track. By the time I snuck past Dan Ellerkamp, he let me know I was in the lead. I’ve never been in the lead of the bike section ever. I really didn’t think much at the time, except I knew there were really good athletes hunting me. So I was definitely pushing it for all I had.”
Scholtz hammered past downed trees, plowed through mud, and ended up coming under the finish chute first.
“When I saw the finish arch, I took one last look back,” he said. “I’ve never crossed the finish line first. What an amazing feeling.”
Scholtz finished with a time of 2:01:40. Dan Ellerkamp was on his heels in 2:03:40 while Ralph Nurse quickly rounded out the top three steps with a time of 2:06:16.
In the women’s race, Emma Coakley clinched the win in 2:27:05. Kate Vermann was second in 2:28:34 while Kelly Paterson was third in 2:29:45.
Meanwhile, further south, on July 28th, Michael Loutzenheiser took command of XTERRA JAX in Jacksonville, Florida. The race returned to Hanna Park and featured a .5-mile ocean swim followed by a 9.5-mile mountain bike and 4.5-mile run through the Florida rain forest. The trails were relatively flat, but challenged athletes as they switchbacked from side to side through the trees and Florida Palmetto roots.
For the men, Michael Loutzenheiser finished in 1:41:38 while Jaden Grimes was second in 1:42:24. Mac Kelly brought it home with a time of 1:45:17.
For the women, Angie Childre finished first with a time of 1:56:52 while Char Hatfield came through in 2:00:45. Sonia Milan was third with a time of 2:02:47.
This Saturday the Midwest Region jumps back into action at XTERRA DINO Southern Indiana in Versailles.