XTERRA Oak Mountain features Deep, Diverse Field

Thursday 18 May 2017
The fifth stop on the 2017 XTERRA Pan America Tour has attracted 34 elites – 17 men and 17 women – from 10 countries to Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama for a hype-worthy showdown on arguably the best course in the Americas.

The elite field for Saturday’s XTERRA Oak Mountain off-road tri, which combines a one-mile swim with a 20-mile mountain bike and 6-mile trail run, features reigning Pan Am Tour Champions Josiah Middaugh and Suzie Snyder and a deep, diverse field of contenders.

In the men’s race the much-anticipated re-match of Middaugh, the 2015 XTERRA World Champ, with Mauricio Mendez, the 2016 XTERRA World Champ, has been put on hold as Mendez suffered a muscle strain at IM 70.3 Monterrey over the weekend and has doctor’s orders to let it rest.

In his place another superstar from Mexico, Francisco Serrano, has come to the forefront.  Serrano just finished 3rd at the same race in his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, and is one of only a few men through the years that has been able to get the better of Middaugh.

In the women’s race, we have an intriguing trio of top-flight elites including two-time XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson, the reigning Pan Am Tour Champion Suzie Snyder, and the 2015 XTERRA USA and U.S. Pro Series Champion Emma Garrard.

It’ll be the first-time those three have all been on the starting line at the same time, in some time.  Garrard sat out last season while pregnant with her second child, Snyder was forced to sit out the big races in 2015 after a bad injury to her hip (watch a 2015 profile on her here), and Paterson has a story all her own.

With each of the three stars living crazy hectic lives outside of the racing scene, there is simply no telling what will unfold on race day.

“The Bama race is a very special one for me as I have so many fond memories of it,” said Paterson, who won this race in 2012, 2013, and 2015.  “It was my first XTERRA podium in 2008 behind Shonny and then I won ITU Cross Tri Worlds in conjunction with the XTERRA Southeast Championship race there in 2012. More than anything though, it is the beauty of the course, and my wonderful homestay Don Frank. XTERRA is about the community and the natural environment in which we race, and ‘Bama ticks off all those boxes for me!”

For Snyder, Saturday’s race is all about keeping the momentum going.

“I feel good and am ready to test my fitness and skills, and I love this course,” said Snyder, who has already won XTERRA Argentina, XTERRA Costa Rica, and came second to Barbara Riveros at XTERRA Chile.

“Racing so early in the season was a little scary and challenging, but I’m happy to have brushed off the dust so I feel a little more confident going into the first Gold-level points race in Alabama,” said Snyder, who is second in the Pan Am Tour points series with 217 points, just four points behind Laura Mira Dias of Brazil.  “I’ve raced at Oak Mountain at least nine or 10 times, two or three as an amateur and every year since 2010 as a pro. I love this course; fast swim, fun, diverse single track mountain bike course with some technically challenging sections, some fast sections, and one decent climb. And the run can be a little challenging because it’s gently rolling terrain so you want to go fast but it’s easy to roll an ankle or catch a toe so you have to keep your wits and maintain control.”

For Garrard, it’s simply getting back to business after the birth of her second child in January.

“I am healthy but certainly not fast as ever,” said Garrard, who has done just one 10-mile mountain bike race so far this season.  “My goals are to finish, see where my fitness is and score some points for the overall series. After racing four months postpartum with my first son I swore I would wait longer next time, but here I am again.”

While the show starts with Paterson, Snyder, and Garrard, there are lots of other serious contenders for the crown including last year’s Pan Am Tour and XTERRA Oak Mountain runner-up Maia Ignatz.

ELITE FEMALE:
Laura Mira Dias, Lavras, Brazil
Suzie Snyder, Reno, NV, USA
Kara LaPoint, Truckee, CA, USA
Sabrina Gobbo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Annie Bergen, Kelowna, BC, CAN
Liz Gruber, Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Caroline Colonna, Taos, NM, USA
Julie Baker, Sonora, CA, USA
Jaime Brede, Breckenridge, CO, USA
Katie Button, Sechelt, BC, Canada
Katharine Carter, N. Vancouver, BC, Canada
Emma Garrard, Park City, UT, USA
Maia Ignatz, Boulder, CO, USA
Kelli Montgomery, Wallingford, CT, USA
Lesley Paterson, Sterling, Scotland
Anne Usher, Portland, OR, USA
Debby Sullivan, Stafford, VA, USA

ELITE MALE:
Jean-Philippe Thibodeau, Quebec, QC, Canada
Branden Rakita, Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Josiah Middaugh, Eagle-Vail, CO, USA
Ian King, Virginia Beach, VA, USA
Kieran McPherson, Waikato, New Zealand
Ryan Ignatz, Boulder, CO, USA
Greg Schott, Chesterfield, VA, USA
Micheal Nunez, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Ryan DeCook, Washington, MI, USA
Chris Ganter, Boise, ID, USA
Veit Hoenle, Freiburg, Germany
Karsten Madsen, Guelph, ON, Canada
Dan Molnar, Salgotarjan, Hungary
Francisco Serrano, Monterrey, Mexico
Brian Smith, Gunnison, CO, USA
Cody Waite, Lakewood, CO, USA
Cedric Wane, Papeete, Tahiti
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