2002 XTERRA World Championships
By Kristen McFarland
October 27, 2002 (Wailea, HI) – This year the Xterra World Championships on the island of Maui had the most diverse international field in its history. Interestingly, several of the top male competitors were ITU draft-legal style racers like former Olympian Olivier Marceau of France. Of course, a mountain bike triathlon is a whole different game.
Conrad Stoltz of South Africa, who has lived and trained in Colorado Springs for a few years, won by a mile last year. Coming in to this year’s race he had six wins in the Xterra series behind him. This time it was more work, though, and his mountain biking downhill skills were what made the difference.
After a good swim Conrad was with the leaders right away but struggled with chain and rear cog issues the entire bike leg. Eneko Llanos of Spain and Dominic Gillen of Colorado Springs were riding with him, but then he started really letting go on the downhills, bravely risking a serious crash on a course that had been dredged up by a severe storm the weekend before the race. The strategy worked and he pulled ahead for the remaining third of the bike leg.
He held the lead through the run for the win, but barely. Llanos was closing quickly and finished only a minute behind him.
Pat Brown of Boulder had a strong and steady race and placed ninth overall. Cam Widoff, who had just raced the IRONMAN over in Kona, was looking to win the “Double,” the prize for the lowest combined time in the two races. Although he ended in a sprint finish with Peter Reid, Reid’s time in the IRONMAN was too far ahead of his to overcome. Tim Hola of Denver unexpectantly won the Double for the age-groupers (see story on page 17).
In the women’s race mountain bike powerhouse Melissa Thomas of Boulder made her mark with a fifth place finish. Her 1:47:28 bike split was the best of the pros. Former champion Kerstin Weule of Evergreen placed seventh and Katherine Zambrana of Steamboat eleventh.