Beaver Creek Resort – Avon, CO – Josiah Middaugh and Shonny Vanlandingham won the XTERRA Mountain Championship on a picture-perfect blue sky day at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colorado this morning.

Josiah Middaugh

Josiah Middaugh wins the XTERRA Mountain Championship (Photo by XTERRA Planet)

Middaugh, 33, the reigning XTERRA USA Champion and winner of three straight regional championship races on the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series, erased a two-minute deficit to the leaders coming out of the swim by the top of the first big climb at about mile four of the bike then posted the fastest bike and run times to take the tape in 2:08:00, nearly six-minutes ahead of runner-up Branden Rakita from Colorado Springs.

It’s Middaugh’s second XTERRA Mountain Championship victory in three years on his home turf where he lives just a mile from the course.

“Super excited because this is a really special race, one of the most important races I’ll do this year and it feels really good to win on my home course,” said Middaugh.

The win means Middaugh will take a perfect score into Nationals September 21 at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah and is in prime position to win the Series for the first time.  Add his USA Championship win last year followed by a close 2nd to Javier Gomez at XTERRA Worlds with his three victories this year, and Middaugh could be the best he’s ever been.

“I’ve been injury free for a while and my training is as good as it has ever been.  I feel like there wasn’t anything special about what I did today, I just did what I’m trained to do. In other years it hasn’t worked out when I’ve felt super strong — I’d have a bad race or mechanicals. Maybe it’s experience. I don’t know, but it’s all coming together so I guess you could say I’m at the pinnacle of my career right now,” said Middaugh.

Even so, Middaugh has no intention of letting up with Nationals and Worlds on the horizon.

“Well, first I’m going on vacation tomorrow morning for a week, then I’ll get back into it and put together a good progression, 10-week training plan to Ogden,” said Middaugh.  “I focused on Ogden last year and played all my cards to have a big peak there and go confidently into Maui.  I still want to have a peak performance at Nationals for sure, but I’ll have Maui in mind a little more this year.”

Behind Middaugh was a great race for second-place with Branden Rakita leading Ben Hoffman by a tail nearly all day.  It would be Rakita’s career-best performance at a U.S. major, especially impressive considering he spent the last couple weeks in Europe racing at XTERRA France and the ITU Cross Tri Worlds in the Netherlands.

“Feels really good, like a lot of hard work has paid off,” said Rakita.

Hoffman, the Ironman great who’s won his last three long-distance IM races, hung with Rakita until a flat towards the end of the bike lost him some time and momentum but still managed to run strong into 3rd for the second straight year on this course.

Cody Waite also had a career-day, finished 4th for the first time. Waite also earned high-praise from women’s winner Shonny Vanlandingham, who credited the training program he built for her as one of the big reasons for her recent success.

“I started working with Cody and his EPC coaching business after Vegas and since then have gradually gotten more and more power.  He’s great, and good with older athletes as it’s more about quality than quantity, his program is really working for me,” said Vanlandingham.

Also of note, Ryan Ignatz finished fifth to push him just a point behind Rakita in 4th in the Pro Series heading into Nationals. Dan Hugo earned some valuable points today as well with his 7th place finish (despite a bum hip), catapulting him into the No. 2 spot behind Middaugh.  Kyle Leto made a splash in his XTERRA debut with the fastest swim and a 6th place finish.

Pro Men

Pl Name Age Hometown Time Points
1 Josiah Middaugh 33 Vail, Colorado 2:08:00 100
2 Branden Rakita 32 Colorado Springs, Colorado 2:13:56 90
3 Ben Hoffman 29 Boulder, Colorado 2:14:20 82
4 Cody Waite 34 Lakewood, Colorado 2:15:38 75
5 Ryan Ignatz 34 Boulder, Colorado 2:16:52 69
6 Kyle Leto 27 Boulder, Colorado 2:17:31 63
7 Dan Hugo 27 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:21:31 58
8 Jason Michalak 35 Lakewood, Colorado 2:23:02 53
9 Bradley Weiss 24 Somerset West, South Africa 2:23:45 49
10 Will Kelsay 32 Boulder, Colorado 2:25:41 45

Also:  Will Ross (41), Chris Ganter (37), Tom Goth (34), Patrick Valentine (31), Craig Evans (28), Brad Zoller, Andy Lee, Matt Mangen, Joshua Merrick

Vanlandingham Wins, Dibens Returns

Shonny Vanlandingham has now won the Mountain Championship race here at Beaver Creek in four of the last five years (and she sat out last year due to injury).

Shonny V.

Shonny Vanlandingham takes the XTERRA Mountain Championship (Photo by XTERRA Planet)

The 2010 XTERRA World Champ was more than four minutes behind the swim leaders — Julie Dibens and Flora Duffy — but made it all up to take the lead into the bike-to-run transition and held on for the win in 2:29:51, nearly two-minutes ahead of last year’s winner Danelle Kabush of Canada.

“This is the first time my knee hasn’t hurt on the run since I injured it in 2011,” said Vanlandingham.  “It’s a long rehab process, and I’m still rehabbing.  I’m not as good as 2010 but hoping with two more months I can contend this year at Worlds.  At one point I thought I would never contend again, but I’m encouraged lately and really happy to be getting stronger and stronger.”

Despite growing up in Texas, Vanlandingham — a 7x member of the U.S. National Mountain Biking Team — seems at home in the mountains.  “I’ve been in Durango for 15 years, so probably more of a mountain girl now with a Texas accent.”

The day was made all the more special because her Dad was in the audience, witness to her latest triumph.

“I wanted to say thanks to my Dad for riding his motorcycle all the way up from Texas to watch the race,” said Vanlandingham at the awards ceremony.  “He’s been my biggest fan. I’m 44 and played a lot of sports and he’s traveled all over the country on his motorcycle to watch my various activities … this one’s for you Dad.”

Danelle Kabush put together another strong Mountain race — posted the fastest run split of the day — to finish in 2nd and Kelley Cullen continued to show her prowess in the Rockies with a third-place finish.

With reigning XTERRA U.S. National Champ Suzie Snyder striding into fourth, it was a good day for the Luna Girls.  Meanwhile Emma Garrard keeps getting faster, and had a season-best 5th place showing today, just seven months removed from having her first baby.

The feel-good story of the day goes to Julie Dibens, who raced her first tri since 2011 when she was leading off the bike at Ironman Worlds in Kona before having to pull due to injury.  She led the bike through the first 10 miles before Vanlandingham took charge, and ultimately finished in 7th after testing the waters on what she could do on the run.

“It was great to be back out on the race course,” said Dibens.  “Physically, it was much as I expected…ugly! Mentally, the hardest part was putting myself out there, but I’m glad I did! Injury wise… I held up pretty well. I struggled to run on the steep ups and downs, especially on the single track, but on flatter ground everything felt good. I now feel confident that I can push the fitness on in training a bit and see if I can get back in the mix with these tough girls.”

The best news for XTERRA fans is that Maui and a shot to become the first woman to win four XTERRA World Championship titles is in her sights.

Pro Women

Pl Name Age Hometown Time Points
1 Shonny Vanlandingham 44 Durango, Colorado 2:29:51 100
2 Danelle Kabush 37 Calgary, Canada 2:31:39 90
3 Kelley Cullen  32 New Castle, Colorado 2:33:38 82
4 Suzie Snyder 31 Fredericksburg, Virginia 2:34:02 75
5 Emma Garrard 30 Park City, Utah 2:36:25 69
6 Flora Duffy 25 Boulder, Colorado 2:38:07 63
7 Julie Dibens 38 Boulder, Colorado 2:38:32 58
8 Tammy Jacques 46 Steamboat Springs, Colorado 2:41:32 53
9 Jaime Brede 36 Breckenridge, Colorado 2:44:42 49
10 Brandi Heisterman 38 Brackendale, B.C., Canada 2:45:55 45

Also: Tamara Donelson (41), Heidi Rentz (37), Jari Kirkland (34), Caroline Colonna (31)

XTERRA US Pro Series Update

The table has been set.  In the men’s field Middaugh has a seemingly commanding perfect score of 300 with Dan Hugo inching up to 2nd position with 248, and Branden Rakita and Ryan Ignatz not far behind in 3rd and 4th position.  For the women, the “Scottish Rocket” Lesley Paterson controls her own destiny — with a perfect score just like Middaugh.  It’s a tighter race though, with Vanlandingham’s 272 points creating some probabilities. Pros count their best three of four regionals plus their score at the USA Championship in Utah to determine the Series winner.

Here’s a look at the standings:

Pro Men

Pl Name West S’East East Mtn Totals
1 Josiah Middaugh 100 100 DNS 100 300
2 Dan Hugo DNS 90 100 58 248
3 Branden Rakita 82 63 x49 90 235
4 Ryan Ignatz 75 DNS 90 69 234
5 Bradley Weiss DNS 75 82 49 206
6 Craig Evans 63 82 58 x28 203
7 Nick Fisher 37 69 75 DNS 181
8 Will Kelsay 49 58 69 x45 176
9 Cody Waite DNS 45 41 75 161
10 Jason Michalak 58 34 DNS 53 145
11 Matt Mangen 53 53 DNS DNP 106
12 Andy Lee DNS 37 63 DNP 100
13 Conrad Stoltz 90 DNF DNS DNS 90
14 Chris Ganter DNF 49 DNS 37 86
15 Will Ross DNP 41 DNS 41 82
16 Ben Hoffman DNS DNS DNS 82 82
17 Matt Lieto 69 DNS DNS DNS 69
18 Tim Snow DNS 31 37 DNS 68
19 Kyle Leto DNS DNS DNS 63 63
20 Karsten Madsen DNS DNS 53 DNS 53
21 Brian Astell 45 DNS DNS DNS 45
22 Ryan DeCook DNS DNP 45 DNS 45
23 Lewis Elliot 41 DNS DNS DNS 41
24 Matthew Sheeks 34 DNS DNS DNS 34
25 Brad Zoller DNS DNS 34 DNP 34
26 Tom Goth DNS DNS DNS 34 34
27 Zach Winter 31 DNS DNS DNS 31
28 Patrick Valentine DNS DNS DNS 31 31
29 Damian Gonzalez 28 DNP DNS DNS 28
30 Tom Eickelbert DNS 28 DNS DNS 28
31 Joshua Merrick DNP DNS DNS DNP

Pro Women

1 Lesley Paterson 100 100 100 DNS 300
2 Shonny Vanlandingham 82 x75 90 100 272
3 Melanie McQuaid 75 90 75 DNS 240
4 Suzie Snyder 90 69 x63 75 234
5 Danelle Kabush 69 x58 69 90 228
6 Brandi Heisterman x41 82 82 45 209
7 Emma Garrard 58 63 DNS 69 190
8 Caroline Colonna 37 45 49 34 165
9 Kelley Cullen 63 DNS DNS 82 145
10 Christine Jeffrey 31 53 58 DNS 142
11 Katie Button DNS 49 53 DNS 102
12 Jaime Brede 53 DNS DNS 49 102
13 Tamara Donelson 45 DNS DNS 41 86
14 Flora Duffy DNS DNS DNS 63 63
15 Julie Dibens DNS DNS DNS 58 58
16 Tammy Jacques DNS DNS DNS 53 53
17 Jen Gersbach-Venzara 49 DNS DNS DNS 49
18 Catherine Sterling DNS DNS 45 DNS 45
19 Heather Holmes DNS 41 DNS DNS 41
20 Heidi Rentz DNS DNS DNS 37 37
21 Rachel Challis 34 DNS DNS DNS 34
22 Jari Kirkland DNS DNS DNS 34 34
22 Lauren Harrison 28 DNS DNS DNS 28

Modestou, Finchamp Win Age Group Titles

Alex Modestou, 27, from Washington D.C. won the men’s amateur race in 2:23:22 and Hannah Rae Finchamp, 18, of Altadena, California won the women’s amateur race in 2:42:15.  Both finished 9th overall in their respective genders. It’s a remarkable win for Modestou – his second overall amateur win (he took Richmond too) as an “East Coast” guy took it to the altitude kings; and incredible for Finchamp as she’s still just 18-years-old.

More than 400 racers from 22 states and seven countries took part in the annual challenge that combines a 1-mile swim in Nottingham Lake (66-degree water temperature), a 15-mile bike that gains 3,600 feet (high point 9,400) and a 6-mile trail run that goes up-and-down the ski slope trails at Beaver Creek Resort with another 1,300-feet of climbing.

Also of note, Brent Bieshaar completed race No. 17 in his XTERRA Across America journey to complete an XTERRA every weekend of the 2013 season.  Five more points series races left, plus Nationals and Worlds.  Read all about it at www.xterraacrossamerica.com.

Here’s a look at all the age group champions, who earned a coveted qualifying spot into the XTERRA World Championship, along with other top finishers in each division:

XTERRA Mountain Champions (Female Age Groups)

Division Name Time Hometown
15  – 19 * Hannah Rae Finchamp 2:42:15 Altadena, CA
20 – 24 Tess Amer 2:48:28 Boulder, CO
25 – 29 Adrienne Young 2:59:51 Vail, CO
30 – 34  Meghan Sheridan 2:47:07 Sandy, UT
35 – 39  Jennifer Razee 2:49:16 Edwards, CO
40 – 44  Kerry White 3:26:57 Avon, CO
45 – 49  Jen Kandolin 2:53:17 Jackson, WY
50 – 54 Betsy Spiegel 3:20:18 Salt Lake City, UT
55 – 59 Barbara Peterson 3:31:00 Berkeley, CA
60 – 64 Cindi Toepel 3:26:30 Littleton, CO

XTERRA Mountain Champions (Male Age Groups)

Division Name Time Hometown
15 – 19 McKay Hunt 2:38:51 Ogden, UT
20 – 24 Andrew Auer 2:32:04 Boulder, CO
25 – 29  *Alex Modestou  2:23:22 Washington DC
30 – 34  Matthew Balzer 2:28:55 Reno, NV
35 – 39  Bryce Phinney 2:26:58 Tucson, AZ
40 – 44  Glenn Mengering 2:31:58 Boulder, CO
45 – 49  Stephen White 2:31:37 Avon, CO
50 – 54  Michael Hagen 2:37:43 Colorado Springs, CO
55 – 59 Jeff Layman 2:57:09 Avon, CO
60 – 64 Jim Mitchell 3:00:50 Jackson, WY
65 – 69 Dennis Freeman 3:33:49 Phoenix, AZ
70 – 74 Ronald Scranton 4:31:44 Tijeras, NM
PC Craig Vogtsberger 3:20:24 Traverse City, MI

* TOP AMATEURS

Complete results

The XTERRA Mountain Championship is the fourth of four regionals on the XTERRA America Tour, which features 70 races in 38 states from March thru August.  Next major is the XTERRA USA Championship at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah on September 21, followed by the XTERRA World Championship in Kapalua, Maui on October 27.

Source/photo credits: xterraplanet.com