Conrad Stoltz & Renata Bucher Win XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Opener in Vegas

April 14th, 2012

Emotion and excitement ruled the day at the XTERRA West Championship in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada as XTERRA icon Conrad ‘the Caveman’ Stoltz rode a wave of adrenaline to victory in honor of his father Gert who passed away on Monday, while Renata Bucher somehow out-stretched the defending XTERRA World Champ Lesley Paterson at the tape in the closest women’s finish in the sports history.

April 14, 2012 (Lake Las Vegas, Nevada) – Emotion and excitement ruled the day at the XTERRA West Championship in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada as XTERRA icon Conrad ‘the Caveman’ Stoltz rode a wave of adrenaline to victory in honor of his father Gert who passed away on Monday, while Renata Bucher somehow out-stretched the defending XTERRA World Champ Lesley Paterson at the tape in the closest women’s finish in the sports history.

“I thought about my Dad a lot, and Liezel, and our faith that has carried us through this,” said Stoltz, who pointed to the heavens as he crossed the finish line. “This one is for my Dad. Tomorrow, we’ll go home for his funeral.”

A cold, rainy, overcast day greeted athletes from around the U.S. for the 9am start in 57-degree Lake Las Vegas. Three-time Aquathon World Champ Richard Stannard from the United Kingdom led the charge as expected, posting the fastest 1.5K swim in 18:11, followed by Dan Hugo (-24), Branden Rakita (-35), Craig Evans (-44), and Stoltz (-58 seconds).

“I lost a bit of time on the swim but it wasn’t too cold and I felt good on the bike and made it up,” said Stoltz, who reeled in all four early and started to build his lead from there. “My bike was set-up really well thanks to Specialized being out here. Last night I made a last minute tire change and my set-up was perfect for this course. I was happy to make three minutes on Dan and more than four on Josiah (Middaugh). You need at least four because Josiah makes a minute up
on each hill.”

Middaugh indeed had the fastest run of the day and caught Hugo, but couldn’t reel in the Caveman whose winning time of 2:08:22 was nearly two minutes faster. It’s the fourth straight year Stoltz and Middaugh have finished first and second at this race, with Stoltz now leading the rivalry 3-to-1.

“This is one of the hardest runs on the tour, with really steep hills, and rough terrain. The AVIA trail running shoes really handled this moon-like, lunar surface well though.”

Hugo held on for third while Aussie Chris Legh ran his way past Branden Rakita and Craig Evans to finish fourth.

Rakita placed fifth, and David Henestrosa from Spain put together his best performance in years to finish 6th. Evans was 7th, the UK’s Doug Hall placed eighth in his first-ever XTERRA, and Lewis Elliot ran his way up to 9th despite some troubles on the bike in his return to the off-road format.

“It’s good to see a lot of new athletes like Chris Legh, and the new ladies as well, welcome to all of you,” said Stoltz at the awards ceremony.

“Special thanks to Specialized and AVIA who came out here and supported us. I think it’s a token to the sport that it keeps on growing and big time companies are coming out to support the athletes. It’s a great thing.”

XTERRA Photo Gallery // Gallery // Complete Results

Pl Name Age Hometown Time Points
1 Conrad Stoltz 38 Stellenbosch, So. Africa 2:08:22 100
2 Josiah Middaugh 33 Vail, Colorado 2:10:02 90
3 Dan Hugo 26 Stellenbosch, So. Africa 2:13:07 82
4 Chris Legh 39 Melbourne, Australia 2:13:35 75
5 Branden Rakita 31 Colorado Springs, Colo. 2:15:18 69
6 David Henestrosa 35 Clearfield, Utah 2:16:11 63
7 Craig Evans 34 Hendersonville, Tenn. 2:16:47 58
8 Doug Hall 24 Bath, Great Britain 2:18:03 53
9 Lewis Elliot 31 Scottsdale, Arizona 2:20:39 49
10 Will Ross 22 Anchorage, Alaska 2:21:41 45
Also: Adam Wirth (41), Cody Waite (37), Chris Ganter (34), Damian Gonzalez (31). 

DNF: Richard Stannard


After nearly three hours of racing the women’s pro race came down to a never-before seen photo finish with Bucher going stride-for-stride with Paterson all the wayto the tape.

Bucher finished in 2:58:24.18 and Paterson came in at 2:58:24.50, just 3/10ths of a second later. It was the closest finish in XTERRA’s 17-year history.  Watch the finish.

What makes it even more remarkable was the comeback of Paterson, who was two minutes and 43 seconds behind heading out on to the run.

“We ran the last 200 yards like that together. I tried to pass real quickly but she held on and sat on my tail,” explained an exhausted Paterson. “My thighs were burning and I was dying, then I went for the sprint and it was downhill – and I’m really good at that and thought I had it – but …”

As they sprinted dangerously fast down the last dirt hill and through the finish chute it’s a miracle neither went face first, and it wasn’t until just before the tape that Paterson stumbled and Bucher broke the tape. The two embraced immediately after in a truly memorable sports moment celebrating pure guts and character on both racers part.

“It was so hard, oh my goodness,” said Bucher. “I left everything I had on that course, and I ran my heart out. What a great race. Lesley made me work so hard. I wish we hadn’t sprinted like that, though, it really hurt.”

For Bucher (pictured courtesy Nils Nilsen) it was her fourth straight XTERRA championship win, having swept back-to-back-to-back races at XTERRA Guam, Philippines and Saipan in March.

“Renata is incredible, she’s going really well right now,” said Paterson. “I thought I might just get her at the end but she held on like a trooper. If anybody should’ve won it’s her.”

Emma Garrard had a great race as well, matching her career-best finish by coming in third. Danelle Kabush passed Melanie McQuaid, who came into the race sick, to finish fourth. McQuaid held on for fifth.

Several stand-out road triathletes and XTERRA newcomers added to the depth of the women’s field. Kate Major took on just her second XTERRA and finished a respectable 7th, Beth Walsh was 8th in her debut, Kathryn Ross posted the fastest swim and finished 10th, and Tamara Donelson celebrated an 11th place finish in her pro debut after winning the overall XTERRA Worlds amateur title last year.

“It’s a lot of fun to come out to a race like this where the atmosphere is so laid back and friendly,” said Major, echoing a common-theme drawn from the camaraderie displayed between XTERRA participants.

Pl Name Age Hometown Time Points
1 Renata Bucher 34 Lucerne, Switzerland 2:27:24.18 100
2 Lesley Paterson 31 San Diego, California 2:27:24.50 90
3 Emma Garrard 30 Park City, Utah 2:34:42 82
4 Danelle Kabush 36 Calgary, Canada 2:36:41 75
5 Melanie McQuaid 38 Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:37:10 69
6 Suzie Snyder 30 Fredericksburg, Virginia 2:37:19 63
7 Kate Major 34 San Rafael, California 2:40:47 58
8 Beth Walsh 32 Encinitas, California 2:41:26 53
9 Sara Tarkington 31 Boulder, Colorado 2:45:48 49
10 Kathryn Ross 21 Boulder, Colorado 2:50:54 45
Also: Tamara Donelson (41),
Courtenay Brown (37), Jennifer Todd (34). 

DNF: Rebecca Staynor, Caroline Colonna



The 2012 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series consists of five events – four regional championships and Nationals.

April 14 – XTERRA West Championship (Lake Las Vegas Resort – Henderson, NV)
May 19 – XTERRA Southeast Championship / ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships (Pelham, AL)
June 10 – XTERRA East Championship (Richmond, VA)
July 14 – XTERRA Mountain Championship (Beaver Creek Resort – Avon, CO)
Sept. 22 – XTERRA USA Championship (Ogden/Snowbasin Resort, UT)

The top 15 pros at each event are awarded points based on overall pro finish. Pros will count their best three of four regional scores plus the points they get (or don’t get) at the XTERRA USA Championship in Utah. Thus, the final point total combines an athletes’ best three scores in the first four races, plus the USA Championship race points.  He/she with the most points in the end is declared the U.S. Pro Series Champ. The U.S. Series will dish out $145,000 in prize money: $15,000 at the West, East and Mountain Championships, $20,000 at the Southeast and USA Championship races, and $60,000 to the top overall points scorers in the Series.


More than 400 racers from 25 states and several countries took part in today’s championship or sport races, which were held at Lake Las Vegas for the fourth consecutive year. Ryan Petry from Tempe, Arizona won the overall amateur race, finished an amazing 8th overall and 38 seconds ahead of Bryce Phinney from Tucson.  In the women’s race 16-year-old Hannah Rae Finchamp continues to impress, winning the amateur title and placing 9th overall ahead of five pros.  To make it even sweeter, it was her 100th career triathlon.

Here’s a look at all the age group champs:

Division Name Time Hometown
15- 19 Hannah Rae Finchamp 2:45:38 Altadena, CA
25- 29 Kristin Jo Markham 2:53:50 Collierville, TN
30- 34 Meghan Sheridan 2:47:14 Sandy, UT
35- 39 Jennifer Razee 2:55:33 Edwards, CO
40- 44 Mary Dannelley 2:57:42 Irvine, CA
45- 49 Paula Maresh 3:08:45 Littleton, CO
50- 54 Sharon McDowell-Larsen 3:02:06 Colorado Springs, CO
55- 59 Beverly Watson 3:08:35 Priddis, Canada
Division Name Time Hometown
15- 19 Hunter Tolbert 2:57:07 Heber City, UT
20- 24 Ryan Petry 2:20:07 Tempe, AZ
25- 29 Nick Fisher 2:22:06 Ogden, UT
30- 34 Nicholas Goodman 2:26:27 Fountain Hills, AZ
35- 39 Bryce Phinney 2:20:45 Tucson, AZ
40- 44 Cal Zaryski 2:29:21 Calgary, Canada
45- 49 Bruce Rogers 2:32:22 Bend, OR
50- 54 Brent Peacock 2:41:38 Jackson, WY
55- 59 Tom Monica 2:43:00 Thousand Oaks, CA
60- 64 Tryg Fortun 3:02:24 Kenmore, WA
65- 69 James Rawie 4:07:04 San Juan, PR
75+ Ronald Hill 4:50:24 Hayden, ID
PC Willie Stewart 2:59:35 Boise, ID

Complete XTERRA West Championship ResultsXTERRA Sprint race results.

The 2012 XTERRA West Championship is presented by Paul Mitchell and AVIA. Sponsors include the Utah Sports Commission, PowerBar, Gatorade, Zorrel, Breakthrough Nutrition, Rudy Project, Aston MonteLago Village Resort, Hawaiian Airlines,, XTERRA Wetsuits, XTERRA Fitness, and XTERRA Footwear.

TEAM Unlimited is a Hawaii-based television events and marketing company, founded in 1988. It owns and produces XTERRA and in 2011 produced more than 100 XTERRA off-road triathlon and trail running races in 15 countries worldwide. In the U.S. alone nearly 200,000 participants took part in the XTERRA lifestyle last year while XTERRA’s TV, publicity, advertising, online, and grassroots marketing efforts generated more than 400 million impressions. In addition, TEAM TV has produced more than 300 adventure television shows resulting in three Emmy’s and 42 Telly Awards for production excellence since 1990. View samples at, and learn more at and


Conrad Stoltz & Renata Bucher Win XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Opener in Vegas

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Trey Garman

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