Pelham, Alabama — Josiah Middaugh and Lesley Paterson captured the 8th annual XTERRA Southeast Championship at Oak Mountain State Park on a rainy day in Shelby County, Alabama.

Josiah Middaugh

Josiah Middaugh on a muddy course (Photo: XTERRA)

It’s the first time Middaugh – an 8-time XTERRA National Champ – has won the event as Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz swept the last six races here in Shelby County.

Today Stoltz held the lead through the swim, mountain bike, and first half of the six-mile run before pulling out with an injured calf.

“I had a big crash (at the XTERRA West Champs) five weeks ago and cut my hand quite badly and got five stitches and surgery.  One week after that I was doing mountain bike racing, and because I couldn’t put weight on the handlebar it made me compensate so the left hip started cramping up and caused the hip to get semi-injured, and that transferred to my calf muscle.  I’ve been struggling with the calf injury all week, and knew it was going to be touch and go if I was going to be able to run well. I felt good on the run but the injury got worse and worse and worse and I knew I had to stop because if I kept running it was probably going to tear,” explained Stoltz.

Despite the injury to Stoltz, due credit belongs to Middaugh who came out of the water about a minute thirty behind the leaders then posted the fastest bike split of the day to bridge the gap. Middaugh took over on the run to capture his second straight win to start the 2013 XTERRA US Pro Series.

“I was happy to be able to keep the tires down and stay focused on my own race,” said Middaugh.  “I really had no idea how far back I was on the bike so kept riding hard.  I usually lose a lot of time in that last four miles of switchbacks so I didn’t know if I was going to come off the bike four minutes behind or one minute behind.”

Turned out he was about 1:15 behind Stoltz and a minute or so behind Dan Hugo coming into T2.  Middaugh caught Hugo a little past the halfway point on the run then passed Stoltz right as he pulled up at the end of the first lap.

“I asked if he was OK and he said his leg was hurting.  When I came around the second lap to the finish he was there cheering me in.  He’s a good sport,” said Middaugh.

Hugo, who took a nasty spill in the bike-to-run transition as he slipped on the wet concrete coming in, stayed strong to finish in second.  Of note, Hugo has placed 2nd at thirteen of his last fourteen XTERRA races since winning the South Africa title in 2011.

“Josiah is the man to beat. At the end of last season he won Nationals, was incredible at Worlds and won last month’s West Championship. I knew that coming in today and he lived up to it easily, he really had it covered,” said Hugo.  “I think he had it sewn up before the run.  We’re going to have to lift our game to compete with him this season.”

Craig Evans from Tennessee continued his hot streak on his ‘home course’ – where he placed second last year – by finishing third this time around.  It marks the seventh straight year Evans has placed in the top six at the XTERRA Southeast Championship race.

In fifth and on the podium for the first time was rookie XTERRA Pro Nick Fisher from Ogden.

For all the competitors, Mother Nature was their biggest competitor.

“The roots and bridges were really slick,” said Middaugh.  “My front wheel slide out on the roots a lot but luckily hooked back up on the dirt. The dirt was tacky but anything root or rock was slick and the bridges were bad so I really made a point out of lining those up straight.  Better to take a few seconds here and there and play it safe than lose a couple minutes by crashing.”

More than a few took a spill on the wet bridges.  Bradley Weiss, who won the ITU U23 Cross Tri World Championship on this course last year, slid out and ended up in a ravine on the first one.  Repeated it again on the next bridge but still managed a fourth place finish – his fifth straight top five on the XTERRA World Tour this year.

Ryan DeCook wiped out on one of the bridges as well.  To make matters worse he had a tire pump tucked in to his racing kit – which of course he landed on directly.

“We’ve never raced on this course when it was wet and the rain really changes it,” said Stoltz.  “Slippery roots and the bridges were really slick so it was quite an adventure out there…everyone has a story.”

Paterson’s Domination Continues

Reigning and two-time XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson overcame four crashes on the bike to take her fifth straight World Tour win and second-in-a-row here in Alabama.

“I was really nervous coming in because I’ve never ridden in slippery conditions like this in Southern California and although I grew up in this kind of weather in Scotland I wasn’t a mountain biker back then,” said Paterson.  “The roots, those things are buggers, you hit them at the wrong angle and you’re off.  So, I only had four crashes, thought that was quite impressive.”

Today Paterson was pushed by three-time XTERRA World Champ Melanie McQuaid, who posted the fastest bike split of the day and was first into transition.

“She was riding well, she’s really good on the technical stuff,” said Paterson. “I had a goal of just trying to hang as long as I could and make time on the climb so she wouldn’t take too much time out of me in the last part of the course which is really technical.”

McQuaid, who has won here three times, was happy to get back on a great mountain bike course with some good fitness and happy with her runner-up performance today.

“I was injured for a long time. It takes a long time to get your body back, then after that chip away at fitness.  Happy I made the choice to skip some racing and go home for four weeks and try to right the ship,” said McQuaid.  “I’m not in super Lesley shape but starting to feel better for sure and I’ll chip away at it as the year goes on.”

Brandi Heisterman, who placed second at her XTERRA debut in Canada two years ago, put up her best effort in the US to finish third.

“I took some chances on the bike to get in to the race and ripped down Blood Rock, it was so fun,” said the mother of two and teacher by trade.  Heisterman was one of the few – and most seemed to be Canadian – that was not bothered by the slippery roots.

“That’s what we ride on every single day, I love that stuff,” smiled Heisterman.

Former XTERRA World Champ Shonny Vanlandingham – who’s also won on this course at XTERRA and the BUMP-n-Grind mountain bike races – was solid all-around to finish fourth while reigning XTERRA National Champ Suzie Snyder came in fifth.

XTERRA US Pro Series Update

Josiah Middaugh and Lesley Paterson both stayed perfect in the pro series and put the pressure on the rest of the field to catch up.  Pros count their best three of four regionals (there’s two left – the East Championship in Richmond on June 9 and the Mountain Championship at Beaver Creek Resort on July 20) plus their score at the USA Championship in Utah to determine the Series winner.

With his DNF today and no previous plans to race at the Mountain Championship, Stoltz is effectively out of the title chase as he’d have only two counting scores heading into Nationals.

“It’s tough because I’m not going to be able to contest the XTERRA Series, and that’s unfortunate,” said Stoltz, who has won six-in-a-row and an unprecedented 10 US Pro Series crowns since his inaugural season of 2001.

Pro Men

Pl Name Age Hometown Time Points
1 Josiah Middaugh 34 Vail, Colorado 2:17:00 100
2 Dan Hugo 39 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:18:44 90
3 Craig Evans 35 Hendersonville, Tennessee 2:22:49 82
4 Bradley Weiss 24 Somerset West, South Africa 2:25:32 75
5 Nick Fisher 27 Ogden, Utah 2:27:23 69
6 Branden Rakita 32 Colorado Springs, Colorado 2:27:48 63
7 Will Kelsay 32 Boulder, Colorado 2:29:33 58
8 Matt Mangen 30 Ivins, Utah 2:32:04 53
9 Chris Ganter 35 Boise, Idaho 2:34:18.03 49
10 Cody Waite 35 Lakewood, Colorado 2:34:18.08 45

Also: Will Ross (41), Andy Lee (37), Jason Michalak (34), Tim Snow (31), Tom Eickelberg (28), Damian Gonzalez, Ryan DeCook

Pro Women

Pl Name Age Hometown Time Points
1 Lesley Paterson 32 San Diego, California 2:32:40 100
2 Melanie McQuaid 39 Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:36:25 90
3 Brandi Heisterman 38 Brackendale, B.C., Canada 2:41:32 82
4 Shonny Vanlandingham 43 Durango, Colorado 2:42:42 75
5 Suzie Snyder 31 Fredericksburg, Virginia 2:42:51 69
6 Emma Garrard 31 Park City, Utah 2:46:03 63
7 Danelle Kabush 37 Calgary, Canada 2:46:19 58
8 Christine Jeffrey 41 Tucson, Arizona 2:48:50 53
9 Katie Button 28 Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:56:55 49
10 Caroline Colonna 49 Taos, New Mexico 2:59:09 45

Also: Heather Holmes (41)

2013 XTERRA US Pro Series Standings

Pl Name West Southeast Totals
1 Josiah Middaugh 100 100 200
2 Craig Evans 63 82 145
3 Branden Rakita 82 63 145
4 Will Kelsay 49 58 107
5 Matt Mangen 53 53 106
6 Nick Fisher 37 69 106
7 Jason Michalak 58 34 92
8 Conrad Stoltz 90 DNF 90
9 Dan Hugo DNS 90 90
10 Bradley Weiss DNS 75 75
11 Ryan Ignatz 75 DNS 75
12 Matt Lieto 69 DNS 69
13 Chris Ganter DNF 49 49
14 Brian Astell 45 DNS 45
15 Cody Waite DNS 45 45
16 Lewis Elliot 41 DNS 41
17 Will Ross DNP 41 41
18 Andy Lee DNS 37 37
19 Matthew Sheeks 34 DNS 34
20 Zach Winter 31 DNS 31
21 Tim Snow DNS 31 31
22 Damian Gonzalez 28 DNP 28
23 Tom Eickelbert DNS 28 28
24 Joshua Merrick DNP DNS 0
25 Ryan DeCook DNS DNP 0
Pro Women
Pl Name West S’East Totals
1 Lesley Paterson 100 100 200
2 Melanie McQuaid 75 90 165
3 Suzie Snyder 90 69 159
4 Shonny Vanlandingham 82 75 157
5 Danelle Kabush 69 58 127
6 Brandi Heisterman 41 82 123
7 Emma Garrard 58 63 121
8 Christine Jeffrey 31 53 84
9 Caroline Colonna 37 45 82
10 Kelley Cullen 63 DNS 63
11 Jaime Brede 53 DNS 53
12 Jen Gersbach-Venzara 49 DNS 49
13 Katie Button DNS 49 49
14 Tamara Donelson 45 DNS 45
15 Heather Holmes DNS 41 41
16 Rachel Challis 34 DNS 34
17 Lauren Harrison 28 DNS 28
DNS Did Not Start
DNF Did Not Finish
DNP Did Not Place