Osborne, Kingsford win XTERRA Oak Mountain

Monday 10 May 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Elite Men's Results
1 Sam Osborne, NZL 2:29:00
2 Bradley Weiss, RSA 2:31:06
3 Josiah Middaugh, USA 2:34:11
4 Kieran McPherson, NZL 2:34:38
5 Elliot Back, USA 2:37:31

Elite Women's Results
1 Samantha Kingsford, NZL 2:56:17
2 Amanda Felder, USA 3:00:53
3 Suzie Snyder, USA 3:03:13
4 Kelli Montgomery, USA 3:24:02
5 Brandi Swicegood, USA 3:33:32

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