The XTERRA Quebec off-road triathlon takes place Sunday at Lac Delage in the French-speaking region of Quebec City, Canada.
It’s the sixth of 10 events on the XTERRA Pan Am Tour this season, and second in as many weeks in Canada.
Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford won last weekends race at XTERRA Victoria in British Columbia and while those two went back to their basecamp in Colorado to rest up and get ready for the high-altitude showdown at XTERRA Beaver Creek on July 20, the reigning XTERRA Pan Am Champ Josiah Middaugh traveled east to defend his title in Quebec.
“Last year, XTERRA Quebec was the longest, toughest race on the Pan Am circuit,” said Middaugh.
“This year, the course is mostly the same with a longer swim, and slightly shorter bike, but it will still be very challenging. The gaps among the podium contenders has only gotten tighter in the past couple years, and even though Sam will be back in Colorado resting up for Beaver Creek, Karsten Madsen and Branden Rakita are both looking very strong so far this year and I will have some catching up to do out of the water. With XTERRA Beaver Creek only six days later, you might think the guys on the podium would back it off or settle for position, but that is never how we race. There is only one way to race XTERRA, full gas!”
Madsen, who has been Canada’s best off-roader in recent years, was third last week in Victoria in his first race of the season and was second at XTERRA Quebec behind Middaugh last year.
“Fun to be doing this again,” said Madsen, who has been dealing with heart conditions, as chronicled in this recent article. “I had to take some time off from training after the ablation procedure I had done about a month ago. I’m happy to say I’m fully healthy for this Sunday’s race in Quebec and working on keeping the fitness coming up.”
Rakita, who finished 16-seconds behind Madsen in fourth place last week, had the fastest swim in Quebec last year and hopes to push the pace up front early.
“I am feeling good going into Quebec, and I am pretty happy with how the race went in Victoria,” said Rakita. “If I can swim and run like I did in Victoria and then ride a bit cleaner, I should have a good race and be right in there battling with Josiah and Karsten.”
The race combines a 1.5K swim with a grueling 27K mountain bike on epic trails at Empire 47, then a punishing 10K trail run.
“The Quebec course is awesome,” explained Rakita.
“The swim in Lac-Delage is beautiful and is nice warm water. The bike has some great open climbing that makes passing easy but also has some technical climbing as well to help separate the athletes. There are a lot of great single track sections that flow, and some are very tight and twisty with rocks and roots. You must be 100% focused through the entire ride, a small mistake can cost you. The run is very tough, after one lap of the run you think you have done 10k.”
On doing three races in three weeks, just like Middaugh and Madsen will be doing, Rakita says it’s all about managing systems.
“With three races back to back you need to go in with a decent amount of fitness to do it well,” he said. “Thankfully, Victoria is a pretty quick race so even though you are really pushing hard it is not quite as draining, and a bit easier to bounce back from. Quebec will be about managing systems. Rest is the most important thing to do between races. You still want to do a few efforts to keep the system firing, but only enough to keep priming the pump.”
Other elite contenders include Quebec’s own Jean-Philippe Thibodeau, the top ranked elite Canadian on the Pan Am Tour in 2017, and the pride of Alaska, Will Ross, who was fifth last weekend in Victoria.
Elite Men’s Start List
Josiah Middaugh, USA
Karsten Madsen, CAN
Branden Rakita, USA
Jean-Philippe Thibodeau, CAN
Will Ross, USA
Matthew Alford, USA
Vincent Belhumeur, CAN
Carlos Chang, CAN
Edmond Roy, CAN
In the women’s elite race Katie Button, the 2016 XTERRA Victoria Champ who finished third in Quebec last year and fifth in Victoria on Sunday, looks to be the favorite.
“Last year was a monster of a race and if the hot and humid weather continues it’ll be a battle to stay hydrated, stay sharp, and maximize my single track assassination on the bike and run,” said Button. “It’s a beautiful area and the race seems to stay on the trails the entire time, so I’m glad I made it work to get back here.”
Kelli Montgomery, the 2018 XTERRA Costa Rica champ who was fifth in Quebec last year, said she’s ready for another chance to race on these trails as well.
“I’m excited to race again in Quebec, they have some great trails that are similar to what I ride in the northeast on the bike and run,” said Montgomery, who hails from Connecticut. “The trails have some good flow but also feature a number of challenging technical sections. I’m feeling good and race fitness has come around so I’ll see what I can do! Looking forward to camping this year in Quebec as well.”
Laura Mira Dias from Brazil, who was 2nd at XTERRA Argentina, 3rd at XTERRA Chile, and 4th at XTERRA Brazil, is looking for some big points in Quebec to move up in the standings. Elites count their best six scores of the season, including what they get (or don’t get) at the Pan Am Championship race which will be held September 7 in Ogden, Utah.
Other contenders include Americans Amanda Bayer and Deanna McCurdy.
Elite Women’s Start List
Amanda Bayer, USA
Katie Button, CAN
Kelli Montgomery, USA
Deanna McCurdy, USA
Laura Mira Dias, BRA
While this is the sixth edition of XTERRA Quebec, it’s just the second year the race has been designated as an XTERRA World Tour major. As such, it provides a chance for amateur athletes in the region to secure one of the 26 qualifying spots into XTERRA Worlds (one for every age group champion).