June 15, 2008 (Richmond, VA) – Father’s Day couldn’t have gone any better for Josiah Middaugh from Vail, Colorado as the 29-year-old turned in a brilliant bike and gutsy run to chase down South African Dan Hugo in the last mile to become the first American since Michael Tobin in 2000 to win the XTERRA East Championship on the epic trails of the James River Park System in Richmond.
Middaugh, with a winning time of 2:02:51, has been the top American in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series for three of the last four years but this is just his second XTERRA championship race victory, and first since winning the Mountain crown in 2004.
“This one is for all the Father’s out there,” said Middaugh, who has two and four-year-old boys, to an appreciative crowd at the awards ceremony.
Overnight showers and early morning cloud cover created ideal racing conditions and a fast course with temperatures in the mid 80’s compared to the high 90’s just the day before.
The short swim across the James River was predictably unpredictable with shallow water that was just knee deep at some points so racers could dolphin dive sections in the middle. Craig Evans was first out of the water but after a quarter-mile run to the swim-to-bike transition Hugo was first out on the bike just 14 minutes after the race started. Hugo’s lead lasted just seconds, however, as Conrad Stoltz powered past him and started building a huge gap on the rest of the field.
This bike course is renowned for having some of the most technical trails in XTERRA and nobody handles the tricky stuff better than Stoltz — and through the first third of the course he’d already put a minute-thirty on Hugo and Evans. But what was shaping up to be a great race for 2nd place turned into the winner’s dual when Stoltz, winner of the last three East Championship titles, punctured his back tire.
“Went too fast and got a small cut in my bike tire,” said Stoltz, who was able to overcome a flat in Alabama last week to win the Southeast Championship. “I tried to fix it and my CO2 didn’t work, then Rom [Akerson] gave me his CO2 but by the time I got going again I was several minutes and 15 or so riders back.”
Knowing he could drop this race in the Pro Series and make up for it in Ogden at the Mountain Champs, and in order to save his strength for the next three consecutive XTERRA championship races in the United Kingdom (June 21), Czech Republic (June 28), and France (July 6), Stoltz called it a day.
“It’s too bad because this is my favorite race, and I love this run. I really enjoy Richmond because there are spectators in the middle of the forest and they yell your name and cheer for you and it really energizes you. I felt really good too, so it’s disappointing,” said Stoltz.
Stoltz’ loss was seemingly Hugo’s gain, as the young up-and-comer took advantage of a similar situation when his mentor flatted to win the XTERRA South Africa Championship back in April. Towards the very end of the bike Hugo was one-minute 15 seconds ahead of a chase pack led by Middaugh that included Tyler Johnson and Craig Evans.
“Tyler was on my wheel the whole race and he rode great so we moved through the field together,” said Middaugh, who came out of the water with Johnson about a minute-20 after the leaders and together they passed the 11 pros ahead of them (including a tire-fixing Stoltz) to join Evans behind Hugo. Johnson had the fastest bike split at 1:10:01 and Middaugh had the second-best split in 1:10:04.
“I’d really like to thank Conrad for letting someone else win,” laughed Middaugh. “It was sad to see him out there with a flat but nice to have a race for first rather than a race for 2nd for a change.”
Heading into the run Hugo had about a minute-30 on Johnson and Middaugh, and Johnson was thinking this could be his day.
“I just went out way too hard and hit the wall,” said Johnson, who literally hit the wall a couple miles into the run when he reached the famous 80-foot vertical climb up old wood railroad ties dubbed the “Mayan Ruins” – which looks just as gnarly as a 2000-year-old temple.
Middaugh, on the other hand, was calm and collected. “Tyler was just gone, he went out so fast but I had to just get my breathing under control and work out some cramps,” he said.
Just after the big climb Middaugh took the lead and started making ground on Hugo, but it wasn’t until the final mile that he made his move.
“When Josiah passed me I was already giving it all I had so there was nothing I could do,” said Hugo. ‘When I realized it was him I just asked who was behind and he was kind enough to tell me I had some room.”
Hugo crossed the line just 24 seconds later in 2nd place for his third consecutive runner-up performance this year. Johnson was another 27 seconds back in third, his best showing in years and third top five in Richmond.
Andrew Noble had his best race of the season and chased down Ryan DeCook, Kelly Guest, and Craig Evans to move from 7th to 4th. Evans went into transition in 4th and held off everyone but Noble for 5th.
Colorado’s Ryan Ignatz had his best race of the season by posting the fastest run of the day (36:29) to move into 6th, and also of note was the young Ryan DeCook, who had the fifth-best bike split and went out in the run in 5th before a bunch of really fast runners chased him down and left him in 10th (still his best outing as a pro). Rom Akerson from Costa Rica continued to be consistent with his third consecutive top seven finish.
Pl Name Age Hometown Final Time Purse Pts
1 Josiah Middaugh 29 Vail, Colorado 2:02:51 $2,500 100
2 Dan Hugo 23 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:03:15 $2,000 90
3 Tyler Johnson 28 Chester, Connecticut 2:03:42 $1,500 82
4 Andrew Noble 42 Gold Coast, Australia 2:05:44 $1,200 75
5 Craig Evans 30 Spring Hill, Tennessee 2:07:03 $900 69
6 Ryan Ignatz 29 Boulder, Colorado 2:07:12 $700 63
7 Rom Akerson 24 Tambor, Costa Rica 2:07:28 $500 58
8 Kelly Guest 31 Vancouver, B.C., Canada 2:07:39 $350 53
9 Dominic Gillen 30 Milford, Connecticut 2:08:33 $250 49
10 Ryan DeCook 27 Rochester, Michigan 2:09:21 $200 45
Also receiving points:
Mark Leishman ($150, 41), Seth Wealing ($100, 37), Mike Vine (34), Will Kelsay (31), Trevor Glavin (28).
Pl Name Age Hometown Final Time Purse Pts
1 Melanie McQuaid 35 Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:18:45 $2,500 100
2 Jenny Smith 34 Westport, New Zealand 2:23:06 $2,000 90
3 Shonny Vanlandingham 38 Durango, Colorado 2:23:12 $1,500 82
4 Candy Angle 37 Weymouth, Massachusetts 2:24:54 $1,200 75
5 Danelle Kabush 33 Canmore, Alberta, Canada 2:25:46 $900 69
6 Kristy Lanier 37 Marlinton, West Virginia 2:26:00 $700 63
7 Lesley Paterson 28 Stirling, Scotland 2:27:53 $500 58
8 Marion Summerer 26 Freiburg, Germany 2:29:39 $350 53
9 Nic Leary 24 Palmerston North, New Zealand 2:32:06 49
10 Jenny Tobin 39 Boise, Idaho 2:32:08 45
Also receiving points:
Amber Monforte (41), Christine Jeffrey (37), Emma Garrard (34), Sara Tarkington (31), Alisha Lion (28).
Fastest 0.93-mile river swim (time taken out of transition): Dan Hugo (14:41), Christine Jeffrey (15:48)
Fastest 17.2-mile mountain bike: Tyler Johnson (1:10:01), Melanie McQuaid (1:18:34)
Fastest 6.2-mile trail run: Ryan Ignatz(36:29), Danelle Kabush (42:42)
XTERRA U.S. Pro Series
The 2008 XTERRA National Championship Series for pros consists of five events:
May 18 – XTERRA West Championship (Temecula, CA)
June 8 – XTERRA Southeast Championship (Pelham, AL)
June 15 – XTERRA East Championship (Richmond, VA)
Aug. 16 – XTERRA Mountain Championship (Ogden/Snowbasin, UT)
Oct. 5 – XTERRA USA Championship (Lake Tahoe, NV)
The top 15 pros at each event are awarded points based on overall pro finish. Pros can drop one of their scores from the first four events, but must count the points they get (or don’t get) in Nevada. Thus, the final point total combines athletes best three scores in the first four races, plus the USA Championship race points. He/she with most points in the end is declared Series Champ. The U.S. Series will dish out $190,000 in prize money. $20,000 in Temecula, Pelham, Richmond, and Ogden, $40,000 in Nevada, plus $70,000 will be distributed to the top overall points scorers in the Series. The XTERRA World Championship Oct. 26 in Makena, Maui is a stand-alone event worth a $125,000.