Sullivan Middaugh (USA) and Lesley Paterson (GBR) captured the 22nd annual XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathlon elite titles on a picture-perfect blue sky day at Beaver Creek Resort near Avon, Colorado on Saturday, August 26, 2023.
It’s the second career XTERRA World Tour win for Middaugh, who got his first at this race last year, and the 25th for Paterson, the five-time World Champion who also won this race last year.
In the men’s elite race Sam Osborne (NZL) led Americans Timothy O’Donnell and Keller Norland (pictured) out of the water in 17:08, and the trio were a full minute 20 seconds ahead of Edmond Roy (CAN), Ruben Ruzafa (ESP), Branden Rakita (USA) and Middaugh.
“Timothy and I were hoping to push the swim pretty hard and get a bigger gap, and I felt like I was riding okay early on and then Ruben and Sullivan came rolling through,” said Osborne.
Those two - Ruzafa and Middaugh - would roll wheel-to-wheel for the next 15 miles with Ruzafa, the seven-time World Champion, in the front.
“In the swim, I was struggling to hold on to Rubens feet, and thinking to myself just get to the next buoy then the next buoy,” said Middaugh, the 19-year-old freshman at Arizona State University. “And then on the bike, I let him pull the whole time, which I was really grateful for because he was pushing it. I actually tried to help and take a turn up front but he didn’t seem to want it.”
After the race, Ruzafa confirmed that indeed he did not want to give Middaugh a turn up front.
“No, I didn’t want him to go in front because I wanted to control the pace and the lines,” said Ruzafa. “He tried to go in front but I said no-no, I’ll go, and we were pushing it to the limit.”
To the delight of a packed house of Middaugh’s hometown fans, the two flew into the bike-to-run transition together and the foot race was on.
“On the run I had good legs, and treated every hill like my first and my last,” said Middaugh. “We ran together to the first aid station and I put the throttle on it through the Aspens climb, that’s where I was really pushing it.”
Middaugh pulled 30 seconds ahead in one-mile and kept extending the gap from there.
“He had another gear at that point, and I just had to keep my place to save the second-place,” said Ruzafa. “I was really hoping to pull away on the bike, but Sully knows the course and the downhills, and I couldn’t shake him. He had a really good race. I’m proud of him, he’s really young and raced really well. Happy for him and happy for Josiah.”
For Middaugh, to defend the USA Championship, an accolade his Dad, Josiah, held 15 times, in front of his friends and family and against some of the World Cup’s best, was a dream come true.
“There was a little extra pressure to defend the title here in the U.S. under the Middaugh name, so it was great to pull it off,” said Middaugh. “And racing against Ruben today was really special. I grew up watching him race against my dad since I was 10-years-old, and I respect him a lot, so it was awesome to race with him. And for sure I had home course advantage today, but beating Ruben is a great motivator heading into Worlds.”
Middaugh posted the fastest bike (1:15:43) and run (38:52) times and took five minutes off his winning time from a year ago to take the tape in 2:15:33, with Ruzafa in second (2:17:14), and Osborne in third (2:18:44).
“Sullivan is a wizard out there,” said Osborne. “He’s a carbon copy of his dad but he swims better, and for sure he’ll be giving us headaches for years to come. On the second climb I was looking ahead and Ruben was out of the saddle prancing around, and Sully was just sitting there, taking a drink, he was chill. It was like he’s just sitting there and waiting for the running race.”
With the win Middaugh advanced four places into the top 10 of the XTERRA World Cup standings. Ruzafa moved into fourth-place, Kieran McPherson, who finished fourth, jumped into fifth, and Sébastien Carabin (BEL), who placed fifth today, moved from 8th to 6th.
And Sullivan wasn’t the only Middaugh to have an amazing day. His younger brother Porter, 17, who is a senior in high school, finished fifth overall and as the top amateur for the second year in a row (he was 10th overall last year).
TOP 6 MEN
Pl - Name, NAT (Time)
1 - Sullivan Middaugh, USA (2:15:33)
2 - Ruben Ruzafa, ESP (2:17:14)
3 - Sam Osborne, NZL (2:18:44)
4 - Kieran McPherson, NZL (2:23:09)
5 - *Porter Middaugh, USA (2:23:24)
6 - Sébastien Carabin, BEL (2:24:43)
In the women’s race Aneta Grabmuller (CZE) led Amanda Presgraves (USA), Samantha Kingsford (NZL), and Suzie Snyder out of the water.
On the bike Kingsford and Snyder worked their way to the front and rode together the whole way into the bike-to-run transition, but behind them was the “Scottish Rocket” Lesley Paterson.
Paterson was five minutes back after the swim, but just two minutes behind after the bike, and took the lead with a mile to go on the run to secure the win in 2:44:50, with Kingsford in second place just 15-seconds back and Snyder in third in 2:48:21.
“I knew the swim was going to be dreadful and it was,” said Paterson. “But when I came out of the swim I felt great. I love this course, it’s perfect for me because I’m a climber. And when I saw the girls at the top of the climb on the run I thought to myself, game on, but it really hurt and I was worried I wasn’t going to pass Samantha.”
Kingsford pulled away from Snyder early on in the run and was able to hold off Paterson for a long time.
“It was really fun to race against Suzie and Lesley today,” said Kingsford. “On the run when I heard Lesley coming up behind me, I was like, oh no, here we go. And she was killing it on the downhills but I wasn’t letting her go. I didn't give up and tried to get back on and maybe I could have if the run was longer.”
Paterson took the win with a large dose of gratitude.
“Gratitude is my theme this year. Grateful just to be able to be here and still do it, and ya know, it’s the first time in 10 years nothing hurt. I had no hamstring pain, no foot pain, no head pain, nothing. For the first time in forever,” said Paterson, who is working on a screenplay based on the famous novel, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
“It’s made me realize what matters in my life,” she said. “It’s my community, friends, love, my work, mastery of craft, and I’ve just focused on those things and not on the outcome. And as a result, I’ve been so joyous this week.”
With the third-place finish Snyder jumps back into the top five of the XTERRA World Cup standings at No. 5, and Samantha Kingsford moves up eight places into the eighth spot.
“Game on for Worlds now,” said Snyder, who won the U.S. Elite National Championship crown for the third year in a row and sixth time in her career. “I’m happy to keep the crown, of course, I would’ve loved to win it as the overall champ, but these girls are at another level.”
Aneta Grabmüller (CZE) finished in fourth and Maria Döring (GER) rounded out the top five.
TOP 5 ELITE MEN
Pl - Name, NAT (Time)
1 - Lesley Paterson, GBR (2:44:50)
2 - Samantha Kingsford, NZL (2:45:05)
3 - Suzie Snyder, USA (2:48:21)
4 - Aneta Grabmüller, CZE (2:54:03)
5 - Maria Döring, GER (2:55:17)
XTERRA WORLD CUP STAGE IS SET
As the last full-distance race on the XTERRA World Cup schedule prior to the XTERRA World Championship in Italy (Short Track on Sept. 21 and Full Distance on Sept. 23) the USA Championship was a critical points scoring opportunity for elites competing in off-road triathlon’s premier racing circuit.
To determine XTERRA World Cup Champions, elites count their best four scores from the first six full-distance races with their best three Short Track scores and whatever they get (or don’t get) at the XTERRA World Championship.
Heading into the last two races of there year, here's a look at the top five:
XTERRA World Cup Standings
Top Five Women, after 10 of 12
Pl - Points - Name, NAT
1 - 456 - Alizée Paties, FRA
2 - 425 - Loanne Duvoisin, SUI
3 - 418 - Solenne Billouin, FRA
4 - 352 - Marta Menditto, ITA
5 - 314 - Suzie Snyder, USA
XTERRA World Cup Standings
Top Five Men, after 10 of 12
Pl - Points - Name, NAT
1 - 414 - Arthur Serrières, FRA
2 - 402 - Felix Forissier, FRA
3 - 391 - Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, DEN
4 - 384 - Ruben Ruzafa, ESP
5 - 301 - Kieran McPherson, NZL
All-time XTERRA Beaver Creek Elite Champions
Year - Man/Woman
2023 - Sullivan Middaugh/Lesley Paterson
2022 - Sullivan Middaugh/Lesley Paterson
2021 - Sam Osborne/Samantha Kingsford
2019 - Josiah Middaugh/Suzie Snyder
2018 - Mauricio Mendez/Lesley Paterson
2017 - Josiah Middaugh/Lesley Paterson
2016 - Josiah Middaugh/Julie Baker
2015 - Josiah Middaugh/Flora Duffy
2014 - Josiah Middaugh/Chantell Widney
2013 - Josiah Middaugh/Shonny Vanlandingham
2012 - Conrad Stoltz/Shonny Vanlandingham
2011 - Josiah Middaugh/Danelle Kabush
2010 - Nico Lebrun/Shonny Vanlandingham
2009 - Nico Lebrun/Shonny Vanlandingham
All-time XTERRA U.S. Elite National Champions
Year – Elite Champs
2023 – Sullivan Middaugh/Suzie Snyder
2022 – Sullivan Middaugh/Suzie Snyder
2021 – Josiah Middaugh/Suzie Snyder
2020 – cancelled due to COVID-19
2019 – Branden Rakita/Julie Baker
2018 – Josiah Middaugh/Suzie Snyder
2017 – Josiah Middaugh/Julie Baker
2016 – Josiah Middaugh/Suzie Snyder
2015 – Josiah Middaugh/Emma Garrard
2014 – Josiah Middaugh/Emma Garrard
2013 – Josiah Middaugh/Shonny Vanlandingham
2012 – Josiah Middaugh/Suzie Snyder
2011 – Josiah Middaugh/Shonny Vanlandingham
2010 – Josiah Middaugh/Shonny Vanlandingham
2009 – Josiah Middaugh/Shonny Vanlandingham
2008 – Josiah Middaugh/Shonny Vanlandingham
2007 – Josiah Middaugh/Jamie Whitmore
2006 – Seth Wealing/Jamie Whitmore
2005 – Josiah Middaugh/Jamie Whitmore
2004 – Josiah Middaugh/Jamie Whitmore
2003 – Steve Larsen/Jamie Whitmore
2002 – Kerry Classen/Jamie Whitmore
2001 – Ned Overend/Monique Merrill
2000 – Michael Tobin/Kerstin Weule
1999 – Michael Tobin/Kerstin Weule
Note: U.S. Elite Champion honors was awarded to the top U.S. finisher in the America Tour Pro Standings from 1999-2015. From 2016-2019, when the America Tour turned into the Pan Am Tour, U.S. Elite Champion honors were awarded to the top U.S. finisher in the Pan Am/USA Championship race in Utah. Since 2021, the title goes to the top American elite in the USA Championship race.
Find full coverage of the XTERRA World Cup here.
For news, event updates, stories and more.