OGDEN, Utah -- Nico Lebrun slashed past Dan Hugo with two miles to go on the run and Melanie McQuaid broke into an unassailable lead over Lesley Paterson on the bike as they won the XTERRA USA Championships on a mild, sunny day in the mountains above Ogden Utah.
While the XTERRA regulars proved they were world class on the day, seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, a winner at the Leadville endurance bike race and a 2:45 marathoner doing his first triathlon in two decades, proved to be more than decent with a 5th place men's finish just 1:55 behind 4th place finisher and 4-time XTERRA World Champion Conrad Stoltz.
Cheered on by hundreds of fans waving We Love Lance placards and likely the bait that drew a helicopter camera and dozens of journalists,. Armstrong emerged from the 1.5 k swim 4th in 21:55, came 4th off the bike in 1:24:32 just 90 seconds off the pace of leader Dan Hugo, and ran a 23rd-best 42:58 to cross the line in 2:29:25 -- 4:59 behind the winner.
While Armstrong looked thrashed at the finish and took 10 minutes to recover after finishing the high altitude race that began at 4,900 feet on the swim and climbed at least 2,000 feet, Armstrong did manage to beat several XTERRA athletes of note including Branden Rakita (6th) Seth Wealing (13th) and two-time Ironman World Champion Tim DeBoom (16th).
In the men's race, South African Dan Hugo and Conrad Stoltz led Lebrun off the bike. Lebrun then made short work of Stoltz but had to work hard to pass Hugo at Mile 4 of the run. Top USA competitor Josiah Middaugh might have contended for the win if he had not slashed a tire with two miles to go on the bike. He had to carry his machine several times during the final mile. Despite a cut leg, Middaugh unleashed a 2nd fastest 37:58 run to pass several rivals and finish 3rd, 47 seconds back of Hugo. Despite a good swim and bike XTERRA series leader Conrad Stoltz faded to 4th with a 42:27 run.
In the women's race, multiple XTERRA World and XTERRA USA Champ Melanie McQuaid opened up with a 2nd-best to Christine Jeffrey's 24:02 swim, then secured the win with a blazing race-best 1:34:16 bike that put six minutes on eventual runner-up Lesley Paterson. McQuaid then gave Paterson 4 minutes back with a 44:42 run, but she still finished with a 2:59 margin of victory, in a time of 2:43:00. Danelle Kabush of Canada was 3rd, 1:44 back of Paterson.
XTERRA USA National Championship
September 24, 2011
S .93 mi. / B 18. 90 mi. / R 6.34 mi.
1. Nico Lebrun (FRA) 2:24:26
2. Dan Hugo (RSA)2:24:50
3. Josiah Middaugh (Vail CO) 2:25:37
4. Conrad Stoltz (RSA) 2:27:30
5. Lance Armstrong (Austin TX) 2:29:25
6. Branden Rakita (Colorado Springs CO) 2:30: 07
7. Ben Allen (AUS) 2:33:26
8. David Henestrosa (USA) 2:33:28
9. Brad Zoller (Avon CO) 2:33:35
10. Cody Waite (Lakewood CO) 2:34:20\
1. Melanie McQuaid (CAN) 2:43:00
2. Lesley Paterson (GBR) 2:45:59
3. Danelle Kabush (CAN) 2:47:43
4. Kelley Cullen (New Castle CO) 2:49:24
5.Emma Garrard (Park City UT) 2:52:01
6. Christine Jeffrey (CAN) 2:53:43
7. Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango CO) 2:54:16
8. Sara Tarkington (Boulder CO) 2:54:33
9. Suzy Snyder (Fredricksburg VA) 2:54:48
10. Jessica Noyola (San Diego CA) 2:59:41