Middaugh, Paterson win XTERRA Beaver Creek
Josiah Middaugh and Lesley Paterson captured the ninth-annual XTERRA Beaver Creek Championship race elite titles on a picture-perfect morning in the Rocky Mountains surrounding Avon, Colorado.
The win is Middaugh’s fifth straight here on his home course (he lives a mile from the start line) and his third in a row on the XTERRA Pan America Tour this year. For Paterson, the two-time XTERRA World Champ, it’s her first XTERRA victory of the year and in her first try on this course.
The men’s elite race got off to a furious pace with reigning XTERRA World Champion Mauricio Mendez coming out of the 67-degree waters of Nottingham Lake 20-seconds ahead of Branden Rakita and Brad Zoller. Middaugh was the eighth man out of the water about 1:40 back of Mendez.
From there Mendez pushed the pace on the bike and still had more than one-minute on Middaugh after the first four miles and 2,000 feet of climbing.
“Mauricio has gotten so strong in every discipline, I just had to turn myself inside out on the bike,” said Middaugh, who posted the fastest bike split of the day in 1:09:36, nearly four minutes quicker than Mendez and Sam Long. “I’ve never done this bike course that hard.”
The hometown hero finally caught Mendez at about mile 12, “but he put up a really strong fight,” said Middaugh. “I finally got a little gap I think because I know this trail so well I was able to put a little time on the twists and turns and was able to get a little cushion heading into the run.”
It turned out Middaugh would need that cushion, as he crossed the line in 2:07:00, just 41-seconds ahead of Mendez who put in the fastest run split of the day (35:41 to Josiah’s 36:58).
“I’m worked, more so than I have been in a long time,” said Middaugh. “The way I race, I go so hard on the bike the run is sometimes a crapshoot. I feel like I’m a strong runner but sometimes it’s not there when I give everything on the bike. Today was one of those days, and at altitude that makes it so much harder, you don’t feel like you have it and you just have to go to a really dark place and dig a little deeper.”
For Mendez, just to give the champ a good fight was all he could ask for.
“It’s beautiful to race him,” said Mendez. “He pushed me to my limit, and I feel great to start the second part of the year in good form. I wanted to know how I’d do on the mountain bike and I think it went well, I have to work a little harder on the technical stuff, and it’s going to be a lot of work for Utah and Maui, but I’m super excited.”
Sam Long, who finished 2nd at this race last year in his elite debut, finished in third place five minutes behind Mendez.
“I went a minute faster than I did last year and I was third, but those two guys are the best in the world so I’m happy with that,” said Long, who is a 21-year-old like Mendez and in his last semester of college (CU) as a double major in physiology and psychology. “I had a decent swim, a minute faster than last year, pounded the bike hard but not enough to get up with Josiah and Mauricio so I found myself in third all by myself by that first aid station and that’s where I was the rest of the day.”
Brian Smith caught 12 guys on the bike and Branden Rakita and Ben Hoffman on the run to move into fourth place, his second fourth-place showing in as many races.
“Trying to hang with these young boys isn’t easy,” said Smith. “I thought I might get top three because I got Ben and Branden on that first climb of the run and I was feeling really good but Sam is so fit. I’ve got a little work to do for the next couple races, but Josiah (his coach) has been doing some great things for me so it’s just a matter of sticking to the program and keeping it rolling.”
Ironman great Ben Hoffman finished 17-seconds ahead of Rakita to round out the top five. It’s Hoffman’s sixth straight top 5 finish at this race.
“I drew blood, so it’s an official XTERRA,” said Hoffman, pointing to a cut on his forearm. “I love doing XTERRA and getting out here. It’s a different kind of suffering. It feels like an Ironman packed into two hours, especially up here. The altitude really stings, and it kinda feels like you’re going in slow motion. It was good to bust the cobwebs out and get back into racing for the second half of the year, and nice to test myself against the best guys. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a factor at the front of the race today. I would like to put a focus on XTERRA one year to see what I could do, but right now, the focus is on trying to win Kona.”
ELITE MEN RESULTS
Pos Name, NAT Time Points
1 Josiah Middaugh, USA 2:07:00 100
2 Mauricio Mendez, MEX 2:07:41 90
3 Sam Long, USA 2:12:38 82
4 Brian Smith, USA 2:14:42 75
5 Ben Hoffman, USA 2:17:13 69
6 Cedric Wane, TAH 2:17:30 63
7 Branden Rakita, USA 2:17:55 58
8 Mario de Elias, ARG 2:19:34 53
9 Veit Hoenle, GER 2:19:42 49
10 Ryan Ignatz, USA 2:20:17 45
11 Kieran McPherson, NZL 2:20:35 41
12 Thomas Spannring, USA 2:21:07 37
13 Joshua Merrick, USA 2:30:59 34
14 Michael Nunez, USA 2:37:03 31
15 Taylor Charlton, AUS 2:37:28 28
Also: Ian King, Brad Zoller
PATERSON UNTOUCHABLE TODAY
The “Scottish Rocket” Lesley Paterson called upon her alter ego “Paddy McGinty” to push her to perfection on the dirt today.
She was third out of the water just 25-seconds behind last year’s winner Julie Baker and two-seconds back of Suzie Snyder, passed Baker in transition, passed Snyder on the cart path less than a kilometer into the bike, and rode away from there. She had the fastest bike split of the day, a 1:23:04 (next best was Suzie Snyder’s 1:28:26), the fastest run of the day, a 41:42 (again five minutes faster than Snyder) and finished with a winning time of 2:26:07, nearly 10-minutes ahead of Snyder.
“This course is my perfect course, I wish this was the Worlds’ course,” said Paterson. “I’m smaller, I love climbing, I love the mountains, I love the people, I just love everything about this course. Everything felt good today and its been a while since I’ve felt that way. I just had a lot of gratitude and joy, even though “Paddy” was out there fighting, I had a great time out there today. The body responded this week, and I’m so grateful. I’ve had many ups and downs, so when you feel good like this it makes all the hard work worth it.”
Despite the big lead, Paterson said she gave it everything.
“For me its’ about pushing and fighting all the time and never giving up so regardless of where I’m at, in the front or at the back, I want to feel like I’m committed to the race every single second.”
Snyder finished in second place for the second time this year. She’s won the other four races she’s done, and despite being stronger than everyone but Paterson, is still frustrated to not have found an answer to this course.
"I had such a good attitude and I was relaxed, but this course just doesn’t like me,” smiled Snyder. “I was trying to stay calm early on and hope that I could find a rhythm and gain strength but through the whole bike I didn’t feel too strong. I couldn’t eat anything, my stomach was a mess, I couldn’t breathe, I wanted to throw up, and on the run I was suffering really bad. It happens every year and I don’t know what to do about it. But that’s not to take anything away from Lesley, this is her kind of course. Her power to weight is amazing, she just flies. And, I know this is not my strength of a course so I’m happy with second.”
Julie Baker, last year’s ‘surprise’ winner here on this course, finished in third roughly two minutes behind Snyder, and was thrilled with her performance.
“It feels really good, I can’t believe it and third is amazing,” said Baker. “These women are so awesome. I rode behind Suzie for a while on the bike and she gradually pulled ahead but just to know that I’m getting to the point where I can stay with her for a while, it feels really good.”
Morgane Riou from France was solid all day and finished fourth, saying “this altitude is not for me,” after the race, while Kara LaPoint rounded out the top five.
ELITE WOMEN RESULTS
Pos Name, NAT Time Points
1 Lesley Paterson, GBR 2:26:07 100
2 Suzie Snyder, USA 2:35:50 90
3 Julie Baker, USA 2:38:19 82
4 Morgane Riou, FRA 2:41:02 75
5 Kara LaPoint, USA 2:43:27 69
6 Emma Garrard, USA 2:51:58 63
7 Annie Bergen, CAN 2:54:04 58
8 Heather Zimchek-Dunn, USA 2:59:13 53
9 Jessie Koltz, USA 3:05:14 49
10 Caroline Colonna, USA 3:07:22 45