Richmond, Virginia once again delivered on its status as XTERRA’s most epic urban adventure as the most unique off-road triathlon and trail running courses on the world tour were filled with radical challenges and raucous crowds over the weekend.
June 16, 2015 (Honolulu, HI) – Richmond, Virginia once again delivered on its status as XTERRA’s most epic urban adventure as the most unique off-road triathlon and trail running courses on the world tour were filled with radical challenges and raucous crowds over the weekend.
On Sunday, June 14, Josiah Middaugh and Suzie Snyder captured the pro race titles on a hot and humid day at the 17th annual XTERRA East Championship off-road triathlon in and around the James River Park System.
Both came from behind out of the water, took charge on the bike, and held on during the run. It’s the second career Richmond win for Middaugh, who last won it all in 2008, and the first-ever win on the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series for Snyder.
The elite race started an hour earlier than the amateur race, right at 7:50am in the warm and shallow waters of the James River. There was a spot in the middle of the river that had everyone running across water – quite a sight for those watching from underneath the CSX Railway line or across the river on Belle Isle.
Craig Evans led the pro men out of the water on Belle Isle, midway through the swim, followed by Ben Collins, Brad Zoller, Braden Currie, and Branden Rakita. Those five would post the quickest swim times (roughly 15 minutes) but Middaugh was only about one-minute back and got in the mix on the bike right away.
“This is a really challenging course for me,” said Middaugh, who lives and trains at altitude in Vail, Colorado. “It’s really different than what I train on all the time so it’s always presented a really good, hard challenge for me. I won it one year when Conrad (Stoltz) had a flat tire, it was on Father’s Day, but it’s been a while. I wasn’t able to do much pre-riding but luckily I’ve done this race like nine times or something so I felt like I knew the course, just wasn’t practiced at race speed on it. So I felt pretty good and surprisingly, I’ve worked on my technical skills a little bit and that’s starting to pay off. Keeping weight on my feet and getting around those corners. Today I had no problems, that’s the big thing. I’ve had a lot of mechanicals here in the past but today I made it through the course unscathed.”
Middaugh may have been one of the few racers today who didn’t go down at some point. Runner-up Braden Currie from New Zealand said it was all he could do to stay on his bike.
“That was a tough day out, I tried to do what I could do and I just didn’t have it,” said Currie, who came in with three straight wins at XTERRA New Zealand, Australia, and the Southeast Champs. “I’m a bit gutted really. I would have liked to been a lot closer to Josiah. It’s a bit annoying to fall off so much at the end, but that’s racing. Haven’t had the best few weeks so I’ll just take it as it is.”
Perhaps nobody in the men’s field could be as annoyed as Olly Shaw, who was in fine form and riding up front with Josiah about a third of the way through the bike before getting a flat that led to a DNF.
“Burped my tire, had a bit of a big crash, then I looked down and my Co2 canister wasn’t there. It was a bit of a nightmare,” explained Shaw. “I tried to keep riding with a really flat tire in hopes that someone would be generous enough to hand me something but everyone was focused on racing and it just got flatter and flatter. I was really having a good race up there with Josiah and Braden and Craig and feeling really good on the bike. Josiah was really super strong but I was pulling him back on the little descents and things, so pretty gutted to have that happen.”
Middaugh had the best bike split of the day, 1:24:56, to Currie’s 1:28:39 and Evans’ 1:28:49, and had nearly three minutes on Currie heading into the run.
“I wasn’t going to come here but decided on Wednesday I was going to try and strike while the iron was hot and come on out,” said Middaugh, who won the GoPro Mountain Games in his backyard for the eighth straight year last weekend. “I’ve been racing well so thought maybe I had one more big race in me.”
Middaugh got into Richmond at midnight on Friday, then messed up his bike pre-riding on Saturday and credited Clint Kronenberger from Coqui Cyclery for getting him squared away.
“Great to have some last minute bike support from Clint, put a new shifter on there and did a bunch of other stuff last night,” said Middaugh.
Middaugh didn’t have the fastest run of the day, which went to Ryan Ignatz who shot into third place with a blistering 43:27 run split, but said he went as hard as he could.
“With this heat you never know when you’re going to just totally implode but I felt good at the start of the run so thought I’d run as hard as I could for as long as I could and actually felt pretty good the whole way,” he said.
Chris Ganter finished fourth and Branden Rakita rounded out the top five.
For all involved the course and all its character were the highlights of today’s race.
“The trails are amazing, and I love all the people out there,” said Ignatz. “Lots of good cheering and great energy at this place.”
Currie was particularly taken with the fanatics at the “Rock Face” section, saying “It’s pretty awesome going through those crowds, it really amps you up. Coming through the shoot by people with costumes and masks. I just wanted to stop and hang out with those guys, but you’ve got to keep on punching it which was pretty annoying. I’d have loved to sit down and have a beer and a BBQ with them.”
Middaugh added that the history around town makes Richmond a really compelling venue to race at.
“Just the setting, right in downtown. We’ve got Belle Isle that was a POW camp during the civil war. There’s a lot of history here so it’s just very unique. You don’t often get an XTERRA that has a downtown setting like this but still has really good single track and really good trails.”
SNYDER WINS SECOND MAJOR OF 2015
Without the seemingly invincible duo of XTERRA World Champs Flora Duffy and Lesley Paterson in the line-up today the spotlight seemed destined to shine on either Emma Garrard or Suzie Snyder. Those two have finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, at four of the last five regional championship races.
Garrard was coming off a brilliant effort winning last weekend’s Mountain Games in Colorado, while Snyder was still not 100% from her crash at last month’s Southeast Championship that bruised her ribs and strained her shoulder.
The two posted identical swim times and headed out on the bike behind Sara McLarty, Christine Jeffrey, and Catherine Sterling but it was all Snyder after that. By midway through the first lap in Forest Hill Park (about mile four) she had passed everyone and put two minutes on Garrard.
“I knew the bike course was where I could make my move because I’m so familiar with it,” said Snyder. “I rode it every week last year for two months. My confidence was good which was key. I nailed the technical stuff. I rode everything so clean, for the first time ever, which kept my confidence high and it was so exciting because when your mind is good your body is good.”
Snyder took a big lead into the run and would need almost every minute of it because Garrard was putting out a heroic running effort behind her. Garrard’s 45:36 effort was five minutes faster than Snyder, but still a minute short at the finish line.
“The run was tough,” said Snyder. “Emma was coming, I knew she was, because that’s what she does. I was just trying to run smart in the beginning because I knew the heat would take its toll later on. Towards the middle I had to do everything I could to put it out there and then my legs started cramping so I needed to settle down before I blew it.”
Smart effort and a big win for Snyder, who now has a XTERRA World Tour major (New Zealand) and a U.S Series win to her name this season.
“Second again,” exhaled Garrard, who has been the runner-up at seven straight regionals since the start of last season. “I made more mistakes on the bike then I should have but nothing really bad. I kept telling myself I could close the gap, but Suzie was riding a lot better than me today.”
A month after posting a career-best fourth-place finish in Alabama Catherine Sterling did one better and finished third today. Maia Ignatz and Kara LaPoint also had career days in fourth and fifth, respectively. LaPoint’s podium spot took some grit after twisting her ankle pretty badly on the “Dry Way” about two miles from the finish.
No woman had it worse than Christine Jeffrey, who crashed hard early and dislocated her elbow. “They finally got it back in joint after a couple tries, very unpleasant,” said Jeffrey from the hospital.
All-in-all an amazing day packed with action and excitement. The locals here in Richmond are awesome supporters of XTERRA and their leader Nathan Burrell, the James River Park System manager, has done an incredibly job with the trails – getting grants and making every inch of dirt as good as it can get.
Today’s race combined a one-kilometer swim in the James with a 20-mile mountain bike and seven-mile trail run. There was a $15,000 prize purse for elites as the third of five stops in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series.
MIDDAUGH, GARRARD LEAD XTERRA U.S. PRO SERIES
With today’s victory Middaugh is assured a shot at winning the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series in Ogden, Utah on September 19. Pros count their best three scores in the first four, plus what they earn at Nationals regardless of how they do. Currie could put himself in the same position with a second-place or better finish at the Mountain Championship next month. For the women, Garrard is in the lead, but just by six points over Snyder, which makes next month’s showdown in the Rockies an important one for both.
Next up: The XTERRA Mountain Championship at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colo. on July 18.
WEAVER, WILSON WIN AMATEUR TITLES
Daryl Weaver from Lititz, Pennsylvania won his second regional championship in as many months, finishing more than three minutes ahead of Billy Allen of Farmingdale, New York with a winning time of 2:38:51. Young gun Greg Schott from Chesterfield, Virginia placed third. In the women’s race Katharine Wilson from North Vancouver, Canada finished seven-minutes in front of Caroline Colonna of Taos, New Mexico with a winning time of 3:03:43.
Today’s race was an important qualifier for both the XTERRA USA and World Championship races. XTERRA’s chief racer correspondent Marcus Barton, who won the 45-49 division title in 2:47:16, will bring us a unique look at the amateur race from a first-person point of view coming soon.
On Saturday, June 13, Olympic marathon hopeful David Fuentes of Austin, Texas ran away from last year’s winner Bryce Livingston to win the XTERRA Richmond Half-Marathon on an incredibly hot morning in and around the James River Park System and Brown’s Island today.
Fuentes, 28, an NCAA All-America cross country runner out of St. Edwards University, posted a winning time of 1:20:28, more than five minutes ahead of Livingston.
“It was hot, rolling, bouldering, and a lot of fun,” said Edwards, who qualified for the Olympic trials in the marathon distance to be held February in Los Angeles. “This was just my second trail race ever. I’m just trying to have some fun right now. It’s good to mix it up like this.”
Ellen Tarquinio from Washington D.C. won the women’s race in 1:39:03, just 23-seconds ahead of runner-up Leia Lautzenheiser, a standout from Midlothian High School (class of 2009).
“It was fantastic, an urban adventure for sure with all the scrambling, bouldering, the rivers, and the tunnels were amazing,” said Tarquinio, who was running with a group of four women before taking the lead at about the halfway point. “I didn’t see the second-place woman until we were on the bridge and then had to pick up the pace a bit.”
Tarquinio was a rower in college and turned into a trail runner thereafter. “Love running trails. This was my first time doing this race and it was awesome.”
Several hundred runners from across the nation took part in today’s runs. There was also a 10K race, won by Russell Reed of Onemo, VA in 39:28 and Jennifer Place of Southhold, NY in 50:14.
The run courses – both 21K and 10K – featured numerous obstacles, both man-made and natural. Perhaps the most noticeable were the “Mayan Ruins” stair climb, and the water crossings across the James River. The trails also took runners in and out of lush forest areas and alongside some of the historic buildings in the city of Richmond. The contrast has earned the event its “urban adventure” description.
The top runners in every age group in today’s 21K race received a free entry into the 2015 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Hawaii this December 6, 2015.
Learn more about the Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run Series at www.xterratrailrun.com.
The XTERRA East Championship was presented by Paul Mitchell and XTERRA Travel, and sponsored by Muscle Milk, Gatorade Endurance, PowerBar, XTERRA Optic Nerve, LifeProof, Greenlayer, XTERRA Coffee, XTERRA Wetsuits, XTERRA Fitness, Utah Sports Commission, Salming, XTERRA Boards, and Outrigger Resorts.
About TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA TEAM Unlimited is a Hawaii-based television events and marketing company, founded in 1988. It owns and produces XTERRA and in 2015 will offer more than 300 XTERRA off-road triathlon and trail running races in 35 countries worldwide. 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 www.xterra.tv, and learn more at xterraplanet.com and xterratrailrun.com.