July 17, 2010 (Avon, CO) – Nico Lebrun and Shonny Vanlandingham won the XTERRA Mountain Championship off-road triathlon on a beautiful, blue sky day at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colorado.
Shonny Vanlandingham had the body markers put a “41” on her calf before the race, and it was a number (her age) that super strong women nearly half her age barely got a glimpse of all day as Vanlandingham raced to her third consecutive victory at the race.
The two-time XTERRA National Champ was more than two minutes behind the swim leader Suzie Snyder but absolutely crushed the bike course and finished more than seven minutes ahead of eventual runner-up Sara Tarkington.
Vanlandingham’s bike split was 1:22:51. The second best women’s split was 1:28:18, posted by XTERRA Amazon champ Jenny Smith who came in third today.
“I love high mountain riding,” smiled Vanlandingham after the race as she stood next to her proud father who rode his motorcycle all the way from Texas to take in the event.
“I’ve spent the last twelve years in Durango, and the last four weeks riding up in the mountains so I just felt really good.”
While “Shonny V” rode away from the field, Tarkington – who holds down a full-time job as a social worker in Boulder – was busy having her best day in XTERRA, topping her third place finish at this race last year.
Emma Garrard finished fourth for the third time this season on the same day her 61-year-old dad completed his first-ever triathlon (and won his age group!) at the XTERRA Hammerman off-road triathlon in Alaska.
In fifth place was Snyder, a former amateur XTERRA National Champ in her first big race as a pro.
In men’s competition, Lebrun won the title for the second year in a row.
The day started with a mile swim in the 68-degree waters of Nottingham Lake but was decided on the 15.5-mile mountain bike section that included more than 3,000 feet of climbing from 7,400 to 9,500 feet elevation. That’s where Lebrun used the climbing skills he developed while growing up in the French Alps to make up a two-minute deficit on the swim leaders. By mile nine Lebrun was in front, and despite a tight chase pack that consisted of Seth Wealing, Josiah Middaugh, and Branden Rakita, he was able to hold off all chargers and win his second XTERRA championship race in seven days (he won XTERRA France last Saturday).
“This race is so hard because of the altitude. You can’t breathe and you feel terrible so you just have to judge how you are doing by where you are against the others. So when I passed Josiah, and then I saw Dan and Seth I thought I must be doing okay,” said Lebrun, the 2005 XTERRA World Champ.