Vail’s Middaugh wins his first XTERRA
KEYSTONE – With only a kilometer left in the run portion of the Nissan XTERRA Central Championship Triathlon at Keystone on Sunday, only 10 seconds separated Vail’s Josiah Middaugh from Frenchman Nicolas Le Brun. When it was Middaugh who came around the blind corner at the tail end of the run course pumping his fists into the air, the crowd erupted in cheers and welcomed him home to the victory. Finishing the 1K swim, 27K bike and 10K run in 2 hours, 7 minutes and 32 seconds, Middaugh notched his first victory as a professional since upgrading after winning last year’s amateur division in the same event. Before Middaugh even had a chance to meet with his wife, Ingrid, and infant son, Sullivan, Le Brun came in through the finishing chute and embraced Middaugh in a congratulatory hug.
Middaugh’s margin of victory was a mere 15 seconds, which was the tightest in the seven-year history of the Central Championship. But more importantly to him was improving on what had previously been a personal best of seventh place as a professional with a win. “At the top of the climb (of the mountain bike portion), these guys were right with me, so I knew I had to do something and bombed the downhill,” said Middaugh once he had his son comfortably in his arms and his wife at his side. “I didn’t take any chances and just rode smoothly.”The tactic worked well for Middaugh, who came out of the swim more than two minutes down on Spaniard David Henestrosa and used his tactical skills as a mountain biker to take the lead.
Though he never trailed Le Brun at any time, beating the European national champion out of the water by a scant 15 seconds, he knew his regular pace for the 10K run could be a problem. Middaugh had reason to be concerned, and he proved it with his run time of 40:28, which was slower than Le Brun’s 38:51 and Henestrosa’s 39:24.But Middaugh held up his pace and then launched into a fierce sprint for the finish that left Le Brun behind. “It was very surprising to see him at this level,” Le Brun said. “But I’m happy with second. Last year I was fourth here.”Henestrosa was able to hold off Frenchman Sylvain Dodet for third, finishing in 2:07:59.
In the women’s race, Jamie Whitmore of Elk Grove, Calif., never faced any serious challenge from the rest of the women’s field and took home her third consecutive title at Keystone. Finishing the course in 2:27:19, her next closest competitor, Melanie McQuaid, was eight minutes back. The reigning world champion, McQuaid, from Victoria, British Columbia, finished in 2:35:18. “I was a little nervous because I came out of the swim 20 to 30 seconds behind Candy (Angle) and thought I might have gone too hard,” Whitmore said. But the deficit proved easy for her to recover in the bike leg. “I love this bike course. It’s one of my favorites,” she said. “The run can be as flat as all heck and it will still hurt, but for some reason, the bike ride never seems to hurt.”
Crested Butte’s Janae Deverell finished third in 2:40:31 while Angle, of Weymouth, Mass., faded after the swim to finish fifth behind Vail’s Lisa Isom. Local adventure racer Monique Merrill of Breckenridge (2:49:11) was the fastest local athlete of the day, finishing eighth among the pro women, only nine seconds ahead of former Breckenridge resident Jari Kirkland (2:49:20), who finished ninth. Kirkland now lives in Crested Butte. Breckenridge’s David November fared best among local amateurs, finishing in 2:50:44, which was only 14 seconds ahead of Frisco’s David Janowiec (2:50:58). Jill Walker, also of Breckenridge, posted the fastest time among amateur women at 3:09:25.
Before the championship event, a sport race was also held. In the sport race, the distances for the three legs were cut in half. Jordan Jones was the winner of the day in that event, finishing in 1:37:16, but only a minute behind was Breckenridge’s Kevin Shelden (1:38:16). Julie Bruckman (1:57:11) won the women’s sport race.Finish Line: Whitmore’s victory was her fifth in a row after winning a string of XTERRA triathlons in Europe over the last six weeks … Willie Stewart, who has no left arm, finished in 2:54:01 using a state-of-the-art prosthetic arm during the bike ride … Complete results are available at http://www.summitdaily.com, and will appear in print during the week. Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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