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Kiwis Osborne, Kingsford take XTERRA Oak Mountain Titles

May 11, 2021

Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford won the 15th XTERRA Oak Mountain off-road triathlon elite titles at Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama on Saturday, May 8, 2021 with winning times of 2:29:00 and 2:56:17, respectively.

Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford won the 15th XTERRA Oak Mountain off-road triathlon elite titles at Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama on Saturday, May 8, 2021 with winning times of 2:29:00 and 2:56:17, respectively.

It’s the 15th XTERRA World Tour win for Osborne, the sixth for Kingsford, and the second victory of 2021 for the Kiwi couple following their home country victories at XTERRA New Zealand in April.

The event, the first XTERRA major in the U.S. since the 2019 World Championship in Maui, combined a one-mile swim in Double Oak Lake with a 21-mile mountain bike and six-mile trail run.  Race conditions were absolutely perfect for the 8:25am start.  The water temperature was 73-degrees, the air-temp was 73-degrees, and the trails were in mint condition.

In the men’s elite race Eric Lagerstrom and Andrew Starykowicz, two U.S. road triathlon stars making their highly anticipated XTERRA debut, made their presence felt early.

Lagerstrom was first out of the water with a blistering 18:10 swim split, more than 40-seconds faster than the chase pack led by Starykowicz with Sam Osborne, Brad Weiss, Elliot Bach, and Ian King right behind.

Straight out of transition Osborne got a gap on the pack then starting reeling in Lagerstrom, but it wasn’t easy.

“It’s really hard to close the gap on the tight stuff, and even once I got past Eric I couldn’t break him for a long time, only on the descents, so that’s really where I pushed,” said Osborne. “If you can force people into mistakes, especially on a course like this where there’s so many rocks and roots, that’s part of the art of off-road racing.”

And that’s exactly what happened.

“I was having a killer day, I was able to hang with Sam until 9k or so, but I slammed my back wheel hard into a sharp rock in a river crossing and couldn’t seal it with a plug,” said Lagerstrom, who did not finish following the mechanical.  “I’m super bummed man, I was feeling so good and was so stoked on not just instantly getting dropped by Sam. I wish there was another race soon so I could go for some redemption. I think I just need a bit more time riding fast through technical stuff to get better at picking lines with a high heart rate.”

Lagerstrom wasn’t the only racer to fall prey to the elements.  A massive rainstorm swept through Shelby County on Tuesday that caused several trees to fall across the trails and at least two creek crossing bridges collapsed. Thanks to quick work by the crews at Shelby County, Oak Mountain State Park, and the local trails advocates from BUMP, the bridges were repaired and rebuilt in time for race day.  The rain also washed away a lot of dirt, exposing brand new rock faces at every turn.

“I got a double flat tire very early on in the bike, hit a rock and hit both the front and the rear,” said Brad Weiss, the reigning and two-time World Champ who got off once to put air in the front and then again shortly after to fill the back tire with air.  “The way Sam moves through these trails; every second you’re standing still you’re losing the race.  I got back on and think I was about 1:50 back at that point, about five minutes into the bike.”

Up ahead Osborne was turning himself inside-out on the big climb to pull away from the field and his mantra became “smooth is fast.”

Weiss didn’t relent, however, and gave it everything he had to pull within 30-seconds of Osborne by the bike-to-run transition.

“I knew if I could run the first couple K really well I’d be in a good spot, but the legs didn’t feel great in the beginning.  Stuck with it though, and the legs just ticked on, and from there I was able to settle into my own rhythm, nice and smooth,” said Osborne, who finished more than two minutes ahead of Weiss to successfully defend his XTERRA Oak Mountain crown from 2019.

“It’s so good to be back,” said Osborne, who’s been racing back home in New Zealand, but this is his first race overseas since the pandemic.  “Domestic racing is cool, but it always leaves you wanting more, ya know, it feeds the addiction but not like this where you turn up and there’s two world champs and the field is so deep.  What a race.”

Weiss, who was competing in his third race in four weeks, was quick to agree.

“So fun to race XTERRA again, this is definitely my love of triathlon, the road racing pays the bills, but this is where my passion really does lie,” he said.

Behind Weiss a great race for third place was underway.  Elliot Bach and Kieran McPherson were riding strong in the third and fourth spots, until 2015 XTERRA World Champ Josiah Middaugh caught up around 15 miles into the bike.

“Rusty, it was like starting all over,” said Middaugh, who was three minutes behind the leaders after the swim and didn’t make it any easier on himself in the first part of the bike.  “I made a bunch of mistakes. Wrapped a tree at the beginning, handlebars went crooked, face-planted on Blood Rock, just one of those days.”

Having got past Bach, Middaugh went toe-to-toe with McPherson, one of the fastest runners in the sport.

“Kieran and I had a pretty good battle on the run. We were so close, 10-seconds apart, it was a lot of suffering,” he said.

Middaugh was able to shake McPherson towards the end and take third by 27 seconds, an impressive comeback after his struggles early on.

“I always say in XTERRA, you never race to plan A. It’s like the Mike Tyson quote – ‘everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth’.”

Bach had a great day all around to finish fifth, with first-time XTERRA racer Curtiss Feltner in sixth and the veteran Brian Smith, 45, in seventh. Steve Croucher, a long-time XTERRA age group stand-out, placed eighth in his elite debut, with Will Ross in ninth, and the 20-year-old Benny Smith in 10th.

Starykowicz, like many others, flatted. He put a hole in his back tire sidewall and several co2 cartridges and a tube later was still flat. To his credit, he ran and rode on that flat for more than 10 miles to transition and soldiered on to the run to finish the race in three hours, 55 minutes.

“That’s triathlon,” he said.

In the women’s race Kingsford led from wire-to-wire with the fastest swim, second-best bike split (only Suzie Snyder rode faster), and the quickest run.

“I was running scared, I didn’t know where anybody was, so I was pretty stoked to get this one,” said Kingsford, who took the tape by more than four minutes in the end.  “It feels a bit surreal that we’re actually back here in the U.S.  It was a hard decision to come or not, and for Sam and me both to win like this, that tops it off, and I’m glad we made the right call.”

Amanda Felder put together her best XTERRA performance to date to finish in second. She came out of the water with Samantha, and was riding in second until Blood Rock when Snyder got past.  Once on the run, she made her move.

“I was really feeling great on the run and I knew Suzie wasn’t too far ahead,” said Felder. “Just kept it rolling and I came up on her maybe three miles in and got by and kept pushing.”

Snyder, who won three of the last four Oak Mountain races, had the best bike split of the day but paid for it on the run.

“Pretty early on the run my quads started to twist like they were going to cramp, and Amanda came hauling past me.  I tried to answer, but when she came by I couldn’t match that speed.”

Kelli Montgomery finished fourth, with Brandi Swicegood in fifth and Nickie Luse in sixth.

Find results, photos, and highlight video links at xterraplanet.com.

All-time XTERRA Oak Mountain Elite Champions
Year – Men’s Winner/Women’s Winner
2006 – Brent McMahan/Melanie McQuaid
2007 – Conrad Stoltz/Jamie Whitmore
2008 – Conrad Stoltz/Shonny Vanlandingham
2009 – Conrad Stoltz/Melanie McQuaid
2010 – Conrad Stoltz/Shonny Vanlandingham
2011 – Conrad Stoltz/Melanie McQuaid
2012 – Conrad Stoltz/Lesley Paterson
2013 – Josiah Middaugh/Lesley Paterson
2014 – Josiah Middaugh/Flora Duffy
2015 – Braden Currie/Lesley Paterson
2016 – Josiah Middaugh/Suzie Snyder
2017 – Josiah Middaugh/Suzie Snyder
2018 – Josiah Middaugh/Lesley Paterson
2019 – Sam Osborne/Suzie Snyder
2021 – Sam Osborne/Samantha Kingsford

Allen, McCurdy win Amateur Titles
Will Allen and Deanna McCurdy were the top overall amateurs with winning times of 2:46:54 and 3:12:12, respectively. Dwayne Dixon and Jason Lamoreaux finished second and third for the men, while Emma Briggs and Jill Sorensen placed 2/3 for the women, and 50 amateurs qualified for the 2021 XTERRA World Championship race to be held December 5 in Kapalua, Maui by virtue of their performances Saturday.

In Memory of Charlotte Mahan
XTERRA icon, Charlotte Mahan, passed away Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021, on her way to sunrise service.  She was 75-years-young, and one of the most beloved members of the XTERRA Family. Mahan did her first XTERRA at Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama in 2006 at the age of 61, and has been inspiring the XTERRA Family ever since. She won 10 XTERRA Southeast Region titles, the 2010 XTERRA World Championship in the 65-69 division, and was the first female into the 70+ women’s age group alongside Wendy Minor in 2015.  Saturday’s race was dedicated to Charlotte.

Sievert, Harvey win XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Marathon

Steve Sievert from Houston, Texas and Nikki Harvey from Birmingham, Alabama captured the XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Marathon titles with winning times of 4:17:30 and 5:11:02, respectively, on a beautiful blue-sky day at Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, AL on Sunday, May 9, 2021.

The event was part of the new 9-event XTERRA Trail Marathon Series which joined forces with the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) to provide athletes with ITRA Performance Index points.

In the men’s race Sievert started off conservatively because he was coming off a big effort at half-iron duathlon last weekend and wanted to make sure he had enough gas for the second half of the run.

“It was a good call, because I needed it,” laughed Sievert. “Second half was tough. Rugged course, but just amazing.  XTERRA is known for going to unbelievable places and challenging us with really difficult courses and today was no different.  It’s exactly what I expected and then some, and I really enjoyed it out there.”

Sievert said he thought he was in the middle of the pack about halfway through the run, but after he passed Joseph Carty from Georgia at about the 20-mile mark he became the race leader. When race officials let him know he was in front, that was all the motivation he needed to bring it home.

“When I heard I was in front that gave me a boost of adrenaline,” said Sievert, an executive with Discover.  “There aren’t many opportunities in life at my age to win a marathon, so that was the goal.  Plus, not a bad Mother’s Day gift for Mom so I’m dedicating this one to her.”

In the women’s race Harvey said she was happy to spend Mother’s Day with her family doing what they all love to do.

“It was beautiful day, the wind was blowing, and the trails were in great condition,” she said.

It was a podium day all around for the Harvey family, as her husband David finished 5th in the marathon and her daughter Madison finished 2nd in the 10-14 division of the 5K race.

The 42K marathon was one of five courses offered on the day. There was also a 20K half-marathon, a 10K, 5K, and a 5x5K team relay competition.

Griffin Oaks from Irondale, AL and Jennifer McGranahan from Pensacola, Florida won the 20K titles; Conrad Taylor from Birmingham, AL and Alevtina Rihtar from Bessemer, AL won the 10K, Jonathan Hernandez from Cleveland, AL and Callaway Wheeler from Signal Mountain, TN captured the 5K crowns; and the Relay Peak Performance Running team from Peachtree City, GA won the 5x5K.

Complete results

2021 XTERRA Trail Marathon Series Schedule
Date – Race (Location) – ITRA Points
Mar 28 – XTERRA Kenting Trail Run (Taiwan) – 1 ITRA point
May 9 – XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run (Pelham, AL, US) – 1 ITRA point
May 16 – XTERRA Taihu Trail Run (Suzhou, Jiangsu Sheng, CN) – 2 ITRA points
May 29 – XTERRA Tahiti Trail Run (Papeotai, Moorea) – 1 ITRA point
June 5 – XTERRA Gozo Trail Run (Ghajnsielem, Malta) – 2 ITRA points
Sep 11 – XTERRA Dolomiti di Brenta Trail (Molveno, Italy) – 2 ITRA points
Oct 10 – XTERRA Vallée de Joux Trail Run (Switzerland) – 2 ITRA points
Oct 17 – XTERRA O-SEE Ultra Trail (Oybin, Germany) – 2/3 ITRA points
Oct 30-31 – XTERRA Trail des Balcons d’Azur (Mandelieu la Napoule, France) – 2 ITRA points

Special Thanks
Oak Mountain State Park is home to some of the best trails on earth. Credit goes to the Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers, aka BUMP, the local trails advocacy group, who have spent more than 100,000 hours on the design and construction of new trails over the past 20+ years and to this day are hard at work to build, preserve, maintain, and ride the sweet single track in the park. Thanks also to our presenting sponsor Paul Mitchell, who in in partnership with Reforest’Action, has made a commitment to plant one million trees by the end of 2022. And to our sponsors from Shelby County, Gatorade Endurance, the local crew from Oak Mountain State Park, and all the fabulous volunteers for their generous support and hard work.

About XTERRA

XTERRA® is a global lifestyle brand and off-road race series. What started in 1996 as the world’s first off-road triathlon in Maui, Hawaii, is now an endurance sports lifestyle with a racing presence in over 30 countries worldwide and expanding. XTERRA® cultivates a passionate and dedicated community, celebrated by intrepid triathletes, trail runners and outdoor adventurists around the globe.  Learn more at www.xterraplanet.com.