Middaugh, Snyder win XTERRA Beaver Creek

Monday 22 July 2019
Josiah Middaugh from Eagle-Vail, Colorado and Suzie Snyder from Reno, Nevada won the 11th annual XTERRA Beaver Creek off-road triathlon elite titles on a picture-perfect blue-sky day at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colorado on Saturday, July 20, 2019.

It’s the second win in seven days for Middaugh, who was victorious at XTERRA Quebec last weekend.  It’s also his seventh win in nine years on his home course and the 36th major victory in his illustrious 20-year XTERRA career.  For Snyder, the win is her second in three races this season and her 14th elite win since capturing the XTERRA New Zealand crown in 2015.

In the men’s race Brad Zoller and Braden Rakita set the pace early by posting times of 18:45, 18:46, with Sam Osborne right behind in 18:48 for the 1.5-kilometer, two-loop swim in the 67-degree waters of Nottingham Lake. Karsten Madsen, Middaugh, Mike Meehan, and Elliot Bach followed roughly one-minute, 20-seconds later and the race up the mountain was on.

XTERRA Beaver Creek boasts the highest elevation of any major on the XTERRA World Tour.  It starts at 7,400-feet then climbs 3,000+ feet up into the thin air of the Rockies on the bike, topping out at 9,400-feet.

“It’s a different kind of swim because of the altitude, so the elite pack paces themselves a little bit more than usual here,” said Middaugh.  “Usually I blow up and have a horrible swim, but I had a really good day and was able to swim next to Karsten the whole way.”

Once on the bike Osborne and Rakita pulled away from Zoller, but the two didn’t keep the lead long as Middaugh pedaled past Madsen, then Zoller, and reeled them in about three miles into the first big climb.

Middaugh, just as he’s done throughout his career, went full throttle the entire way and posted the fastest bike split in 1:11:30, more than two-minutes faster than the second-best time put up by Meehan.

The hometown hero took a big lead heading out on to the run and cruised into the finish line hand-in-hand with his daughter Larsen and a family friend’s son, Landen, with a winning time of 2:09:26, more than two-minutes ahead of Osborne in 2:12:07. It was a big win for Middaugh, who was doing his third race in 20 days and had a schedule jam-packed with work, travel, media obligations, and real-life emotions.

Middaugh said he used his memories of his friend, David Stern, 75, who passed away on June 29, to get him through the tough stretches of the trail run today.

Josiah wasn’t the only Middaugh who had a big day on the trails.  His oldest son, Sullivan, just 15-years-old, finished 15th overall and his younger son, Porter, 14, won the XTERRA Sprint race.  Beyond his boys, Middaugh also coaches dozens of athletes who did today’s race, including the overall amateur winner Robbie Day, 40-44 division winner Mike Dorr, 45-49 runner-up Jen Razee, and many more.

“This is everything. This is why I race, because of this community I live in,” said Middaugh.  “And to be able to show it, in front of the hometown crew, it’s special.”

Once Middaugh pulled away from the leaders on the bike, it really became a race for second, and what a race it was as Mike Meehan, a first-time XTERRA racer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was riding tire-to-tire with Sam Osborne, the two-time XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champion and winner of four straight races on the world tour.

In the sections where it did get technical, Osborne pulled away with his superior mountain bike handling skills.

Osborne pulled away from Meehan on the run to finish in second with a strong appreciation for the challenge Middaugh and the Beaver Creek course provided.

Karsten Madsen, who was also racing his third XTERRA in 20 days, threw down the fastest run split of the day by far (a 36:35 that was more than one-minute faster than Middaugh) to pass Rakita and Meehan for third place.

Meehan held on for fourth and Branden Rakita rounded out the top five.
1 Josiah Middaugh, USA 2:09:26
2 Sam Osborne, NZL 2:12:07
3 Karsten Madsen, CAN 2:13:19
4 Mike Meehan, USA 2:13:46
5 Branden Rakita, USA 2:15:41

In the women’s elite race Suzie Snyder, who competed in her first XTERRA race as a pro on this course in 2010, managed to do something she hadn’t done in her previous 10 attempts at XTERRA Beaver Creek.

“I finally learned how to pace myself properly on this ridiculously challenging course,” said Snyder at the awards ceremony.

The day started with an XTERRA newcomer, Michelle Mehnert, putting more than one-minute on the rest of the elite women after the swim.  Her lead, however, was short lived as the title contenders – Samantha Kingsford, Julie Baker, and Snyder, came out of the water close together and started charging hard on the bike.

Snyder got in front early and never looked back.  She had a 47-second lead on Baker at the top of the first climb at about mile four, stretched that to more than two minutes by the bike-to-run transition, and ultimately took the tape in 2:37:08, more than two-minutes in front of Baker in second.

Baker said she tried to go with Snyder early in the bike, but “I couldn’t keep up with her, so I ended up racing by myself for the rest of the day.”

Maia Ignatz showed she’s back to near full strength following a season of rehabilitating injuries by posting the second-best run of the day to move past Kingsford on the first climb into third place where she stayed through the finish line.

“That felt really good, except my knee which bothers me a little bit right now, but overall, it’s awesome, it almost doesn’t feel real,” said Ignatz.

Kingsford, who like her boyfriend Sam Osborne from New Zealand had never raced XTERRA Beaver Creek this high-up in the mountains, was happy just to finish.

“That was bloody hard,” she said.  “Definitely altitude got one up on me today. Although we’ve been living at altitude in Boulder, we don’t live there permanently. And this is higher than Boulder. This is pretty high, and it was a survival effort to get to the finish so I’m just glad I made it in one piece.”

Anne Nevin from Norway posted the fastest run of the day (43:28) to finish in fifth.
1 Suzie Snyder, USA 2:37:08
2 Julie Baker, USA 2:39:10
3 Maia Ignatz, USA 2:41:49
4 Samantha Kingsford, NZL 2:48:14
5 Anne Nevin, NOR 2:49:15
XTERRA Triathlon


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