XTERRA Tri and Trail Run Nationals This Weekend in Utah
18 Sep, 2015
Ogden, Utah, will once again transform into “XTERRA Title Town USA” as the nation’s leading off-road triathlon and trail running series host XTERRA USA Championship races on back-to-back days on September 19-20.
The two events attract more than one-thousand of the nation’s very best amateur and professional triathletes and trail runners from nearly every state in the U.S. to Utah to battle for the title of XTERRA National Champion.
The off-road tri Nationals is Saturday, Sept. 19, along with full and half-distance XTERRA Utah races open to everyone.
The XTERRA Trail Run Nationals half-marathon is Sunday, Sept. 20, accompanied by 5K and 10K trail runs. Both events will be filmed for nationally syndicated TV programs exposing the beauty of Utah to millions.
In addition to the races, XTERRA will host an expo in downtown Ogden with free kids races, vendor booths, a Paul Mitchell hair cut-a-thon for charity, and evening dinner parties. Simultaneously, Ogden hosts its 14th annual Harvest Moon Celebration with a wealth of family-friendly activities planned for all ages including live music, great food, and kid’s activities.
TRIATHLON ELITE RACE PREVIEW: There is a lot to be excited about for off-road triathlon fans with compelling match-ups in both the men’s and women’s elite races.
The headliner in the men’s race is Josiah “Beast Mode” Middaugh, a 36-year-old from Eagle-Vail, Colorado. He has been the grimacing face of XTERRA in the U.S. for more than a decade now and has 10 XTERRA National Championships to prove it.
He enters the race as the points leader and two-time defending champ of the U.S. Pro Series, and winner of the last two regionals at the East Championship in Richmond and Mountain Championship at Beaver Creek.
Since Nationals moved to Utah in 2009 Middaugh has been in the top three at every race and took the title outright in 2012. To repeat that performance he’ll have to get past a determined Kiwi named Braden Currie, a world-class mountain biker named Todd Wells, and the top six ranked men in the Pro Series.
“The USA Championship always draws people out of the woodwork and I am excited to see a very strong start list,” said Middaugh. “Braden Currie is always a tough competitor and self-proclaimed that one of his goals was to win the US series. There is a group of about five or six strong Americans that all have a shot at the podium. I am also excited to see Brian Smith back in the mix and the wildcard will definitely be the Olympian and National Champion mountain biker Todd Wells. This should be exciting racing all around.”
For Currie, a Red Bull sponsored athlete that made a name for himself as one of the biggest stars in adventure racing, the goal from day one this year was to win the XTERRA USA Title, Pro Series, and World Championship in that order. He proved he could race with and even go faster than Middaugh in a thrilling toe-to-toe race he won at the Southeast Championship in Pelham, Alabama earlier this season.
Since finishing third behind Middaugh and Ben Hoffman at the Mountain Championship in July, Currie placed 2nd to Tim Don at 70.3 Ecuador, was top 10 at Timberman a week later. Here he explains how his build-up to Utah has been…
“Training has been going well. I took on a new mountain bike coach three weeks ago. He just coached Anton Cooper to win the under 23 Cross country world champs. I have made some huge progress on the bike since then and I’m feeling excited about seeing how that transfers to the race. The USA XTERRA Championship course is well designed for me. I like to climb on the bike and the course looks fast and flowing. I have been riding with good riders in Canada so I think my technical skills on the downhill should have improved since Beaver Creek. My running is back in form and I have climbed quite a few peaks around the Rockies over the last few weeks whilst living in Alberta, Canada. This is how I like to train and I’m hoping this sort of prep work will play out for me as it has in the past when it comes to race day. It will be great to have a race where I feel strong in all three disciplines and I am looking forward to racing Josiah in form. It will be my last race in the USA and then I will fly with my family back to NZ, after having 5 months in North America. We are looking forward to getting home and I am looking forward to the final XTERRA build of the year, towards the XTERRA World champs.”
As for Wells, an unknown in XTERRA but absolute legend in mountain biking, he said he’s just “hoping to survive swimming in a wetsuit and get to the finish line.” Awfully modest for a two-time Olympian and winner of a ton of major mtb races and there are more than a few people out there who think he has a legitimate shot at taking the tape.
While Middaugh, Currie, and Wells grab the headlines there are a wealth of fast racers in the field who could make some noise themselves. Guys like Chris Ganter, Branden Rakita, Ryan Ignatz, Olly Shaw, Brian Smith, Matt Lieto, and Andrew Russell have all proven themselves through the years and are capable of coming up with big performances.
Here’s a look at the tentative men’s elite start list:
No. – Name – Age, Hometown
1 – Josiah Middaugh – 36, Eagle-Vail, CO
2 – Braden Currie – 29, Wanaka, NZL
3 – Chris Ganter – 36, Boise, ID
4 – Branden Rakita – 34, Colorado Springs, CO
5 – Ryan Ignatz – 36, Boulder, CO
6 – Alex Modestou – 28, Durham, NC
8 – Brad Zoller – 37, Avon, CO
9 – Karsten Madsen – 23, Guelph, Ontario, CAN
12 – Chris Foster – 33, Redondo Beach, CA
16 – Olly Shaw – 23, Rotorua, NZL
17 – Chris Legh – 42, Melbourne, AUS
NR – Matt Lieto – 36, Bend, OR
NR – Kieran McPherson – 23, Waikato, NZL
NR?- John O’Neill – 25, Edwards, CO
NR – Will Ross – 26, Anchorage, AK
NR – Andrew Russell – 35, Victoria, B.C., CAN
NR – Walter Schafer – 24, Centenniel, CO
NR – Brian Smith – 39, Gunnison, CO
NR?- Robbie Squire – 25, Salt Lake City, UT
NR – Todd Wells – 39, Durango, CO
NR – Noah Wright – 41, Austin, TX
In the women’s race Park City’s own Emma Garrard is in position to win the USA Championship and the Pro Series in one fell swoop next Saturday.
With Suzie Snyder still recovering from a fractured pelvis and no Flora Duffy or Lesley Paterson in the line-up, Garrard is the clear-cut favorite in the women’s elite race. For Garrard, who has finished 2nd to those three at five races this year and all eight regional championship events over the past two seasons, being labeled the favorite is just fine.
“I’ve done the training, it will just take me having a good clean race and being healthy,” said Garrard. “I do not know what Suzie has been able to do training wise but I imagine she has lost some fitness. I hope she is healed enough to race. Sara is a strong climber and runner and usually comes out of the water in front of Jaime and Maia but they are also strong on the bike. It would be really special to win this race because it is in Utah but also having placed 2nd in every regional race for the past two seasons! This would be the race to win for me. It’s also special because 10 years ago I watched my first XTERRA, so I would be thrilled to win both the pro series and the USA Championships, as it was something that never crossed my mind that day, but this year it is possible so I hope the stars align!”
Sara Schuler of Boulder, Colorado, who like Garrard has a toddler to take care of along with a full workload, is also hoping for some magic next Saturday.
“To come out on top I will need to have a solid race in all three legs,” said Schuler, who placed third at the Mountain Championship in July. “I’ve been swimming in a faster lane than I ever have so that bodes well for a good swim. I know I am capable of riding and running with Emma and will need to keep her in sight on the bike and push hard to try and get ahead before the run. I think the race will come down to who has more left in the engine on the run and we all know Emma has some speed and power in her legs. Historically, I have struggled on the run at Nationals but I’m running more than ever and doing “real” workouts thanks to coaching by Josiah Middaugh. To come out on top would be the optimal end of my XTERRA career. This is my last year balancing being a mother, wife, social worker and 3-sport athlete so being on top with my family watching would be an ideal way to finish my last XTERRA Nationals. I haven’t been getting up at 5am (or earlier) all year for nothing! I’m excited for the race and it is bittersweet knowing that it is the last year I make the trek out to Snowbasin.”
In an interesting twist, men’s favorite Josiah Middaugh just so happens to be the coach for both Garrard and Schuler. We asked him what he thought of the looming showdown at Snowbasin between those two…
“Crazy right?” said Middaugh. “Actually, I haven’t thought much about it. They are competitors, but also a lot of mutual respect there. My hope is that they both have the performances they are capable of and the results will sort themselves. Both are super talented moms with busy schedules and I am excited to see them race their own strengths in Ogden.”
While Garrard and Schuler seem the favorites there are a handful of elite women who have had breakout seasons this year and two months to fine-tune their endurance. Put Maia Ignatz, Kara LaPoint, Catherine Sterling, and Jaime Brede in that conversation and the top five spots are certain to be hotly contested.
Here’s a look at the tentative women’s elite start list:
No. – Name – Age, Hometown
1 – Emma Garrard – 33, Park City, UT
2 – Suzie Snyder – 33, Fredericksburg, VA
4 – Sara Schuler – 34, Boulder, CO
5 – Maia Ignatz – 34, Boulder, CO
6 – Kara LaPoint – 28, Truckee, CA
7 – Catherine Sterling – 38, Ayer, MA
8 – Debby Sullivan – 33, Rocklin, CA
11 – Jaime Brede – 38, Breckenridge, CO
12 – Rebecca Blatt – 35, Lakewood, CO
15 – Caroline Colonna – 51, Taos, NM
NR – Jenny Fletcher – 39, Santa Monica, CA
NR – Genevieve Evans – 42, Carnelian Bay, CA
Follow the elite race live on twitter @xterraoffroad, #xterraUTAH starting at 9am MST on Sept. 19.
TRAIL RUN ELITE RACE PREVIEW: The reigning XTERRA Trail Run National Champion Brett Hales from Layton, Utah is returning to defend his half-marathon national title at Snowbasin Resort on September 20th, but will be up against fierce competition in the form of familiar foe and two-time XTERRA Trail Running World Champion Patrick Smyth of Salt Lake City.
“Pat is a fierce competitor and a great tactical runner,” said Hales, a former track and cross country stand-out at nearby Weber State University. “He knows what his strengths and weaknesses are so he capitalizes when and where he can.”
Smyth, who won the 2013 XTERRA National Title in Utah, was equally complimentary of Hales.
“I’ll have my hands plenty full with Brett running,” said Smyth, himself a former standout cross country runner at the University of Notre Dame before turning his sights to trail running and becoming one of America’s best. “I’m psyched about returning to XTERRA Nationals! It doesn’t get much better then Snowbasin in late September for trail running, and I’m looking forward to regaining my U.S. National title and get some good momentum going into Worlds in Hawaii!”
Hales is equally excited and echoes what Smyth said about the course at Snowbasin truly being the star.
“After last year’s XTERRA National Championship I was made a trail run fan for life,” said Hales, who did his first-ever trail race at Snowbasin last year almost on a whim.
“The euphoria that followed that race was awesome and I’m looking forward to racing hard and running through the heavens once again. I must say that the Snowbasin venue is perfect for the event. The trails are well-groomed and set for speed and the two separate vertical climbs challenge even the more experienced trail guys.”
Hales and Smyth aren’t the only stars to join the line-up at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship, as the reigning women’s champion Liz Stephen, a two-time Olympic cross country skier, is also set to return.
“It was a really fun race and his is a really fun course,” said Stephen after last year’s race. “Falling leaves and spectators all around, I really love running at Snowbasin and XTERRA always does such a good job with the organization.”
The Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run Nationals was staged at Snowbasin Resort for the first time in 2011, and it received rave reviews from the runners.
Runners of all ages and skill levels can participate in the Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run National Championship, as there is no qualifying process. Last year, close to 500 trail runners from 30 different states gathered at Snowbasin Resort for the event.
There will be three different courses to accommodate the various levels of runners. A 21-kilometer half-marathon course will serve as the national championship course, but there will also be a 10K and a 5K.
Every age-group winner from the 21K course will be awarded a free entry to race at the 2015 Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii.
The top five overall males and top five overall females from the 21K course will also receive prize money. Medals and other prizes will also be awarded to the top age-group runners from all three courses.
The Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run Nationals will be held one day after the XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathlon to create the ultimate XTERRA racing weekend.
The two events will bring more than 1,000 of the nation’s very best amateur and professional triathletes and trail runners to Northern Utah to battle for the title of XTERRA National Champion.
Learn more at http://www.xterraplanet.com/trailrun/nationals
The 2015 XTERRA Nationals weekend is presented by the Utah Sports Commission, Paul Mitchell, and XTERRA Travel. Sponsors include Outrigger Resorts, the GOAL Foundation, Gatorade Endurance, PowerBar, ENVE, Utah Media Group, the U.S. Forest Service, XTERRA Wetsuits, Snowbasin Resort, Muscle Milk, XTERRA Fitness, LifeProof, Optic Nerve Sunglasses, Greenlayer, Salming, and XTERRA?Boards.