Lake Tahoe, Calif.
By Pat Brown
ISSUE #18, October/November 2002 – For the second year in a row Lake Tahoe was the site of the Nissan XTERRA USA Championship. This year’s championship was a culmination of a series of 31 qualifying events across the US that awarded points to the top athletes in XTERRA’s 8 regions. With over $80,000 on the line and major network TV coverage, the Nissan XTERRA USA Championship has become one of the most prestigious triathlons in the world.
Pat BrownThe best of the best were invited to compete in Lake Tahoe and battle for the title of USA Champion. The state of Colorado was well represented in both the professional and amateur races with over 20 racers qualifying for this prestigious event. The city of Boulder Colorado had more people qualify than any other city in the nation with 9 people.
Leading the way in the men’s professional division was point series leader Conrad Stoltz from South Africa who is living part-time in Colorado Springs training at the OTC. Two other Colorado athletes who were in the Top 10 going into the Championship were Pat Brown (5th) from Boulder and Ned Overend (9th) from Durango. Other Colorado professionals in the race were Jimmy Archer, Mason Richard, Josiah Middaugh, Mason Rickard, Neal Henderson, and Grant Holicky.
Anke Erlank was the top ranked female from Colorado going into the Championship in 3rd, she was followed by Evergreen’s Kerstin Weule in 4th, XTERRA newcomer Melissa Thomas of Boulder in 5th and Katherine Zambrana in 10th.
At 9 am the Big Kahuna blasted the cannon and athletes dove into the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe. Competitors had a 1.5k swim, which consisted of two loops of 750-meters followed by a quick half-mile sprint to the transition.
The second leg was a grand single-loop 32k mountain bike with over 2500 vertical feet of climbing. Racers were treated with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe from the famous Flume trail, one of the most scenic mountain bike trails in the world.
The final leg was a 10k run in and around the picturesque town of Incline Village. This run course had many twist and turns, river crossings, logs to balance on and about every type of obstacle you could imagine.
Winning the Championship for the second year in a row and the accompanying point series was Conrad Stoltz. He won every XTERRA event this year and took home one of the richest paydays in all of triathlon. Stoltz stood in front almost the entire race. After exiting the water in third, 20 seconds behind American Kerry Classen, he chased him down two miles into the bike course and started the climb without a challenger. From there he came out of the bike-to-run transition with over a four-minute lead that he extended on the run. Clearly after Conrad’s performance in Lake Tahoe, he is the heavy favorite going into the World Championships on October 27th in Maui.
The legendary Ned Overend posted the fastest bike split of the day and finished third overall behind Canadian Mike Vine making him the US XTERRA Champion. Tyler Johnson and Dominic Gillen rounded out the top 5. Colorado athletes cracking the top 20 were, Pat Brown 11th, Jimmy Archer 13th and Mason Rickard 18th.
In the women’s race, Jamie Whitmore solidified her dream season with her third XTERRA title of the year and the big payday with the Pro Points Series and National Title payoff. She clearly showed that she was the best biker on the tour by posting the fastest bike split of the day after coming out of the water well behind the leaders. Australian Raeleigh Tennant showed that her second place finish last year was no fluke and again took home the silver and Canadian Melanie McQuaid hung on for third.
Boulder’s Melissa Thomas continued to impress with a 5th place finish. Other Colorado athletes in the top 10 were, Kerry Barnholt 6th, Kerstin Weule 7th and Anke Erlank 10th.
On October 27th athletes from around the world will converge on Maui to compete in the Nissan XTERRA World Championship. With over a $105,000 prize purse, the World Championship is the second richest triathlon in the world. Many Colorado athletes will be there trying to bring home a piece of the pie and the World Championship title.