Josiah Middaugh used mountain sports skills honed at home in Vail, Colorado to pass South African XTERRA star and 4-time XTERRA World Champion Conrad Stoltz on the final 10k trail run and win the XTERRA West Championship at Lake Las Vegas, Nevada. Middaugh reversed a two-year trend at XTERRA Las Vegas in which he lost to the South African by 39 seconds in 2009 and 32 seconds last year.
This year Stoltz looked like he was a sure bet for a three-peat as he took a 1 minute, 40 seconds lead into the run. But fueled by fitness honed by a winter of snow shoe racing, Middaugh caught Stoltz at the 4-mile mark and never looked back.
“Josiah is crazy,” Stoltz told XTERRA media. “It doesn’t matter if it’s flat, downhill, or uphill he runs the same speed – fast. I thought I had it but this course is very hilly, and he is such a great hill runner that I needed a bigger lead. I was walking up that last big climb and he just came flying past.”
Middaugh’s 37:59 run was the fastest of the day, 2:38 faster than Stoltz. “I knew the climbing was done by mile four so I had to attack the run early,” Middaugh told XTERRA media. “Conrad crushed the bike, and put more time on me than I had hoped, so I had to run as hard as I could on every climb.”
Middaugh finished the 1.5k swim, 30k mountain bike and 10k trail run in 2:13:39 to top Stoltz by 59 seconds and win the $1,800 top prize. It might have been a photo finish had Stoltz not gone off track following some age groupers on the loop course. “It’s all my fault,” said Stoltz. “I pre-rode the course. But all credit to Josiah. He had a great race.”
Branden Rakita of Manitou Springs, Colorado had the best swim and a solid bike, tying his career-best XTERRA finish with third place in 2:17:46. Nicolas Lebrun of France took 4th in 2:19:16 and Chris Stehula of San Luis Obispo, California, last year’s USAT Collegiate champion, took 5th in 2:20:13.
Melanie McQuaid of Canada, a 3-time XTERRA World Champion, finished in 2:32:29 to win the $1,800 first prize with a comfortable 3:21 margin over runner-up and current XTERRA World Champion Shonny Vanlandingham of Durango, Colorado.
Christine Jeffrey of Guelph, Ontario, Canada took third in 2:37:02.
“It is nice to erase the bad memory of Worlds,” McQuaid told XTERRA media. McQuaid has won the XTERRA World Championship three times but fell to 11th last October in Maui. “Unfortunately you’re only as good as your last race so I had to deal with that, but this is much better and any time you can win one of these it’s a pretty special day.”
Vanlandingham was expected to give McQuaid her toughest competition, but sub-60 degree waters threw the reigning XTERRA World Champion off her game.
“That’s the coldest water I’ve ever been in,” Vanlandingham told XTERRA media after her 29:46 swim split was five minutes slower than McQuaid and more than 8 minutes slower than Jeffrey. “I was hypothermic, came out of the water in a total daze and just couldn’t get it together.”
Jeffrey came out of the swim with the top men and held off McQuaid for 10 miles of the bike before surrendering the lead to McQuaid and, eventually, second place to Vanlandingham.
XTERRA West Championship
Lake Las Vegas, NV /April 10, 2011
S 1.5k / MTB 30k / Trail Run 10k
1. Josiah Middaugh (USA) 2:13:39 -- $1,800
2. Conrad Stoltz (RSA) 2:14:38 -- $1,250
3. Branden Rakita (USA) 2:17:46 - $800
4. Nicolas Lebrun (FRA) 2:19:16 - $500
5. Chris Stehula (USA) 2:20:13 - $400
6. Jim Thijs (BEL) 2:22:03 - $300
7. Seth Wealing (USA) 2:22:30 - $200
8. Trevor Glavin (USA) 2:22:51
9. Cody Waite (USA) 2:22:53
10. Brian Smith (USA) 2:23:17
1. Melanie McQuaid (CAN) 2:32:29 - $1,800
2. Shonny Vanlandingham (USA) 2:35:50 - $1,250
3. Christine Jeffrey (CAN) 2:37:02 - $800
4. Kelley Cullen (USA) 2:38:56 - $500
5. Danelle Kabush (CAN) 2:39:06 - $400
6. Emma Garrard (USA) 2:40:39 - $300
7. Suzie Snyder (USA) 2:43:49 - $200
8. Jessica Noyola (USA) 2:49:05
9. Rosemarie Gerspacher (CAN) 2:49:58
10. Tracy Thelen (USA) 2:59:37