Boulder’s Ryan Smith won the Leadville 100 trail run on Saturday night thanks to consistent second-half pacing that left his rivals unable to respond. It was the biggest win of his ultrarunning career.
“There’s just a lot of running in the race,” Smith said, referring to the long flat sections along much of the course. “It really favors a flat runner rather than a mountain runner, and I typically do a lot of mountain stuff.”
His win — in 16 hours, 33 minutes, 25 seconds — was far from expected. Smith was not among the pre-race favorites to win, and he wasn’t feeling well leading into the Twin Lakes aid station near the 40-mile mark. But at the turnaround at Winfield, he held his pace steady, averaging around 10 minutes per mile for the rest of the race.
“Who wants it more? You or Brad?!” Derick yelled. My brain was foggy, sweat poured off me like I was my own personal rain cloud. I could feel the sweat pooling in my shoes and the shoe inserts beginning to bunch up at my toes. But Derick had said the magic words. I was already running at a sub 6 minute per mile pace but I knew that if I wanted there to be no doubt that I belonged on the Team that USA Triathlon selected for Tokyo next year I needed to push even harder. So with my heart thundering in my ears, my muscles screaming and my lungs burning, I cranked the treadmill speed up again. 5:30/mi, 5:15/mi, 5:00/mi, 4:52/mi…
“The Elite Paratriathlon Selection Committee can not decide who the better athlete is at this time and so they’ve elected to go with the athlete who’s points allow easier access into the top 12 in the world.”
“Bull shit!” I wanted to scream, but couldn’t since I was sitting on a bus riding back from Denver to Colorado Springs after having run a successful BolderBoulder 10K. I’d literally sat down in my seat and opened up my email and had gone from an immediate high to a crushing low.
Currently there are three of us in the American Male Visually Impaired Ranks who are battling it out for the opportunity to represent the United States in Tokyo 2020. Our top Male VI athlete—Aaron Scheidies–is recovering from injury and therefore it’s up to myself and Brad Snyder to pick up as many points as possible and get as highly ranked as possible in the world to ensure multiple slots at the world championship and multiple slots in the top 9 of the Paralympic Rankings. Given my performance at the CAMTRI American Championship where I’d taken 2nd to Aaron Scheidies by just 1 min 37 seconds, and where I finished 2 minutes and 34 seconds ahead of Brad it was decided that I would get the first World Paratriathlon Series start in Milan, Italy. I went to Italy and raced to a 3rd place finish—it turns out much to the surprise of everyone except myself and my coach. The only two guys to finish ahead of me were the guys who’d taken 1st and 3rd at the 2018 World Championship. So the only people to beat me in the 2019 season was the podium from 2018 Worlds—Dave Ellis, Aaron Scheidies, Hector Catala Laparra… I was feeling pretty good.
Brad was given the opportunity to race at the next World Paratriathlon Series Event in Yokohama, Japan. Brad was able to race to a 3rd place finish as well against a field that lacked anyone from the 2018 World Championship Podium. So I felt that I’d raced better against a stronger field so was confident I’d get the call to toe the start line in Montreal for the third installment of the World Paratriathlon Series. Not only that but I was on a very steep trajectory and if everything played out right I could improve on my 3rd place finish and begin collecting points for the Paralympic rankings which would open up on June 28, the same day as Montreal. Those hopes were crushed when USA Triathlon decided to send Brad Snyder to Montreal instead.
I was frustrated and bewildered. How could USA Triathlon say they didn’t know who the better athlete was? I’d decisively beaten Brad in consecutive races and had made the 2018 World Championship Podium finishers work their butts off to catch me thereby making them really earn their places ahead of me. After 48 hours of stewing over the “decision” and meeting with my coach and a USA Triathlon official who explained the decision further, I decided to just put my head down and train even harder. It wasn’t the first time I’d been doubted and it won’t be the last.
The Decision Explained
To the best of my knowledge here’s how to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the sport of Paratriathlon. Beginning on June 28, 2019, races will begin counting toward a separate Paralympic Ranking. The races that are eligible to be used as points collectors are the World Championship (valued at 700 points for 1st place), the World Paratriathlon Series Events (valued at 550 points for 1st place), the Continental Championships (valued at 500 points for 1st place) and the Paratriathlon World Cups (valued at 450 points for 1st place). How you get into each of these races is based on your World Ranking. The Paralympic Rankings will close on June 28, 2020. In the span of that 12 months we have the chance to race at these various races. Our top three races will be added together to get our Paralympic Ranking. The top 9 in the Paralympic Rankings will qualify slots for their country but no country can receive more than two qualifying slots. So even if the United States had three athletes ranked in the top 9 of the Paralympic Rankings, the US would only be allotted two slots. The USA can then decide to whom those two slots go.
The International Triathlon Union (ITU) has decided to have a 12 man field at the World Championships this year for the Visually Impaired category. Since World Championships are worth the most points in the Paralympic Rankings, USA Triathlon decided to try and get either Brad or myself into the top 12 in the world so we’d be assured two slots at Worlds and therefore have a good chance at finishing the 2019 season with two athletes ranked in the top 9 of the Paralympic Rankings. Then in early 2020 USA Triathlon will ensure that the best Visually Impaired Triathletes face off in a race and at that point it will be mano-e-mano and the top two athletes at that point will get the full support of USAT to ensure we both go to the games.
So how do I make sure I’m one of those two that goes to the games? Train hard, race harder, and rise to the occasion.
Six Months into this journey of being a full time ITU Paratriathlete, living and training at the Olympic/Paralympic Training Center, I’ve experienced some extreme highs (including two podium finishes and some truly unbelievable workouts where I pushed myself to new levels) and crushing lows (being left off the team that traveled to Montreal for the first opportunity to collect points toward Tokyo Qualification as well as some truly horrific workouts that left me broken and questioning why I’m doing this to myself).
It has been a learning experience managing the load and stress of training, knowing when to push hard and when to throttle back. When I need a break and when I need to just suck it up.
It was barely two weeks after USAT had made their decision regarding Montreal that I needed a mental break. I’d been hammering away for five months doing nothing but eat, sleep and train. I’d done little else but think about triathlon, run calculations on what it would take for me to get into the top 12 in the World Ranking; what paces I’d need to hold to ensure I finish ahead of the best triathletes in the world… And that stress was beginning to catch up with me. I struggled and fought through every workout trying to complete them perfectly only to fall short. My swimming in particular seemed to be reverting back to beginner level. Immediately after racing in Milan I was effortlessly gliding through the water at speeds I would’ve considered impossible a year before, now I struggled to hold the paces I’d held when I first moved to the training center in January.
I needed to get away and not think about triathlon for a couple of days, even just 24 hours would be a big relief. Fortunately the opportunity presented itself. A friend invited me for a weekend camping trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Having heard that the dunes were an amazing experience and not having camped in about six years I leaped at the chance. And I got my wish. While triathlon lingered at the back of my mind for about 36 hours I blissfully focused on running barefoot through hot sand, splashing in icy cold river water and enjoying a camp stove cup of coffee early in the morning. Tension that had gathered seemed to slowly melt away as I finally realized that my 2020 hopes weren’t over. I knew in my soul that I’m one of the two best triathletes in the country and when given the opportunity I’ll prove that I’m one of the best in the world.
Granted it’s not just me on this journey. I’ve received nothing but support from my friends and family as I pursue what really amounts to a very selfish pursuit. In particular I have to give my guide, Zack Goodman, some mad props for being so incredibly patient with me as I struggle with the highs and lows of this profession. Zack has been at times motivator, voice of reason, frustration sounding board, and ultimately a friend. Whereas I’ve just primarily been a premadonna pain in the ass ITU triathlete
Between Zack and my coach, Derick Williamson, I’ve reached heights in the triathlon world I’d only fantasized about before now. And as they both continually remind me, the hard work is just getting started. I may be six months into this journey, but we have a long way to go on this road to Tokyo. So stay tuned because if there have been highs and lows in these first six months I can’t wait to see what the next six months bring!
2019 Six Month Statistics
Swim: 369762 yards (338100 meters)
Bike: 2250 miles (3620 kilometers)
Run: 526 miles (846.5 kilometers)
Podiums: 2 (2nd Place at American Continental Championships; 3rd at World Paratriathlon Series Milan)
Next Race: July 13, 2019 Magog Paratriathlon World Cup, Magog, Canada
Here are some of my tips for a fun, successful race at the Boulder Peak Triathlon, especially if you are new to triathlon, new to Olympic distance or maybe just need a few reminders.
BEFORE RACE DAY: After picking up your race packet, read all the last minute race details, gather ALL your equipment, put your race numbers on and study the swim, bike, and run course—and sleep and relax as much as possible.
DAY BEFORE RACE DAY: Pack all your equipment into your car so you don’t forget it race morning, stay off your feet as much as possible, drink lots of water and if it’s hot add electrolytes, eat only foods your body is familiar with, eat dinner early, settle down early, set your alarm, and try to go to sleep early.
RACE MORNING: Wake up with plenty of time for something to take longer than expected, eat a breakfast you have practiced on racing/training mornings or something you eat every day, remember to grab anything not packed in the car (I put these things on a sticky note on the back of my phone), and leave with plenty of time for extra traffic into Boulder and a line into the parking lots at the Res.
WHEN YOU GET TO THE RACE: Rack your bike and lay out all your equipment and go through your race in your mind to make sure you have everything you need for each portion of the race, sip water or electrolytes throughout the morning, check your tire pressure, breathe, make sure you know your wave start time so you have plenty of time to get to the swim start, and do your planned warm up whether it’s in the water, on dryland, or just visualizing your race in your head.
SWIM: Each swim wave will have about 50 swimmers so seed yourself where you think you will finish within your wave. If you are a newbie to swimming/triathlon/open water, or are nervous about the swim at all, start off to the side or toward the back of the pack. And you don’t even HAVE to start with the pack! You can wait for the rest of the group to go and then you can get started so you don’t have to worry about being crowded by other swimmers at all. My best tip for the swim is to know that the first 3-5 minutes you will be out of breath and perhaps a little panicked, so when it happens it will be no big deal because you were expecting it!
T1: During the last few minutes of the swim, go over your list in your head of everything you need to do when you get to transition. Remember that your transition time counts toward your overall time, so if you have a time or age group place goal, make sure you hustle through transition. My best tip for T1 is to start taking your wetsuit off while running to your rack so that when you get there all you need to do is slip your feet out and while your sitting, throw on your bike shoes and helmet, and go!!
BIKE: I made a video about how to ride the bike course on my facebook page www.facebook.com/foodfitnessfinancefunif you are unfamiliar with the bike course. Since the course is a gradual incline leading up to Lee Hill and then a big hill to the top of Olde Stage, I would just relax and spin in a lower gear at a higher cadence for the first few miles of the course. Don’t be afraid to get out of breath or push your legs up the hill as it is short, and once you are at the top, you have essentially 18 miles of downhill. My best tip for the bike is to stay hydrated with electrolytes EVEN IF IT’S COOLER AND YOU DON’T FEEL THIRSTY. This will affect you later in your race when it does get hot. If you have ever heard the term “stay ahead of your nutrition” that is what it means. Drink/eat for how you want to perform an hour later.
T2: Again, a few minutes before your bike finish, go over in your head what you will be doing in T2. I start thinking about it about 2 miles out and repeat it in my head over and over and over until I get there. Rack your bike, switch shoes, put on a hat/sunglasses, grab your race belt/drink, chapstick, anything else you need for the run and GO! Get out of there! My best T2 tip for a good finishing time is to practice these transitions as a race/goal can be achieved by minimizing transition times!
RUN: It is almost a guarantee the run will be HOT! And the course is very exposed meaning NO SHADE! Do not skip aid stations! My best tip for the run: At every aid station drink an electrolyte drink and pour water over your head. Keep yourself wet as much as you can. If there is ice, put it in your top AND bottoms and hold ice in your hands until the next aid station and then repeat! The other thing I do during a hot run is come up with mantras I repeat over and over to myself like “I am solar powered and I run better with the sun”, “the heat makes me stronger and faster”, and “I’m so glad it’s hot out, I run way better in the heat!” You will be surprised how much power your thoughts have over your body!
Overall, the best advice I can give you for any race is to prepare for the worst but expect the best. To do this I go over any scenario during the swim, bike, run, and transitions that can go wrong and what I would do about it. Mechanicals, nutrition fails, cramps, thoughts of quitting, pains, weather, and any other problems that could arise. Figure out what you would do in any situation, and then don’t think or worry about it again. After that, as many times as you can throughout your days leading up to the race, visualize your perfect race. What it will be like and feel like when executed perfectly. This is what you will focus on for the rest of your time before race day!!
The last edition of IRONMAN Boulder featured two athletes in Matt Hanson (7:57) and Lauren Brandon (9:09) setting two course records on their way to victory. The other four podium spots were filled with Tim O’Donnell and first-time pro Kennett Peterson for the men and Lesley Smith and Danielle Mack for the women. All will be competing in Kona at the IRONMAN World Championships this fall. For Kennett and Danielle, this will be their first trip to the big island as professionals. Danielle won IRONMAN Boulder in 2014. Says Danielle, “I’ve been a professional for 7 years, won 3 Ironman’s and have never competed in Kona….thank God!”
The story of the day might be Kennett Peterson who until yesterday hadn’t competed in a full-distance IRONMAN or even ran a marathon! He settled in on the bike early in the race in second place and never relinquished that position. Tim O’Donnell lead through the bike segment with Kennett, Sam Sam Long jostling for second and third and Matt Hanson right behind. The race took shape on the run with Hanson running everyone down with a 2:48 marathon, O’Donnell dropping back with a 3:05 and Peterson held tight with a 2:54. Colorado’s Tripp Hipple crossed in forth place with Boulder native Sam Long rounding out the top five.
The women’s race featured and course breaking swim time of 48:43 and course breaking overall time of 9:09 by Texas’s Lauren Brandon. It was her first IRONMAN 104.6 victory. Says Brandon, “got my Kona spot, and I’m ecstatic!” Off the bike she was 37 minutes ahead of the field, but “with the likes of Lesley Smith running, I knew I had to have a big lead.” Boulder’s Smith indeed had a fast run of 3:11 narrowing the gap by nearly 25 minutes. Smith chased down the field passing seven others on her way to second.
The “Flatiron wars” are complete and was a great battle fought during the last IRONMAN to be held in Boulder. A bittersweet day and much more to come on that!
Former Olympian Kara Goucher nearly collided with a mountain lion during a morning training run last Monday in Boulder, Colorado.
After an injury forced her to drop out of Houston Marathon in January, the 2:24:52 marathoner decided to try her hand at trail running.
Even Kara Goucher, 2:24:52 marathoner and mainstay of U.S. women’s distance running for over a decade, gets spooked sometimes. But when it’s a dangerous wild predator just inches away from you, that’s understandable.
Since the return of an old hamstring injury forced Goucher to drop out of January’s Houston Marathon after 16 miles—her first marathon attempt since her heartbreaking fourth-place finish at the 2016 Olympic Trials—Goucher has taken her running in a new direction: the trails.
After so much success on the road and track, the 2007 IAAF World Championships silver medalist in the 10,000 meters and three time top 10 Olympic finisher, now 40, is training to run the Leadville Trail Marathon on June 15.
Though she wants more time to acclimate to the new discipline, Goucher told Runner’s World, training in her home of Boulder, Colorado has been going well. That is, until she nearly collided with a mountain lion.
Protein is an essential nutrient that is present in every cell of the body and is critical to supporting athletic training. Protein is responsible for building and maintaining muscles, and is what makes up the enzymes that power all reactions in your body that keep you going.2
Proteins are made of amino acids, which are building blocks that help grow and maintain the body’s tissues. Humans are not able to synthesize (or produce internally) certain amino acids, so they need to be consumed through food. The amino acids that need to come from dietary sources are called essential amino acids.1 This inability to produce essential amino acids is why the consumption of an adequate amount of high quality protein is vital for your health, epecially as athletes.
It is recommended that average adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.3 Athletes, on the other hand, should consume higher amounts due to increased needs for muscle repair and training adaptations. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes, depending on training intensity.4 If you’re not consuming enough protein, your body may be giving you different signs that you need to eat more of it. Some signs that you can look for are decreased muscle growth or strength, getting sick more often, hunger, fatigue, unhealthy hair, skin, and nails, neurological disruptions, and swelling.
1. You can’t seem to build muscle
Do you feel like you’re not getting the results that you want? You may not be consuming enough protein for muscle growth. When you don’t get enough protein in your diet, your body will start to take it from other sources. Primarily, it will take protein from your muscles. This will cause muscle wasting and decreased strength.2 In order to provide the optimal amount of protein and amino acids to allow your muscles to recover and build, protein intake should be spaced throughout the day and after workouts.4
2. You’re getting sick more often
Are you getting sick more often than you have in the past? You could have a weakened immune system due to lack of protein in your diet. Protein is needed for the creation of antibodies, which are proteins that fight off diseases caused by pathogens that enter the body. Lack of protein can reduce the number of antibodies in your blood which can leave you defenseless to different pathogens.2
We all know that spectating at a race, especially a long-distance one like IRONMAN, can be an endurance sport in itself. There’s nothing worse than trying to capture those special moments when your athlete rolls by and your smartphone is dead. So after many years of supporting athletes and working behind the fences at various races, I’ve found some must have items to add to your race-sherpa toolbox! Race day tested, Khem approved!
Cairn™ Lantern + Power Bank & Neve® Lightning Cable
What’s one of the biggest frustrations of being a race Sherpa? Dead phone? Tangled up lightning cable? Well, the folks at Lander have developed a handful of products that bridge the gap between the outdoors and technology. I’ve been lucky enough to give a few of their products a whirl, and I will tell you, I am thoroughly impressed.
The Cairn™ Lantern + Power Bank is exactly what it is. A lantern and power bank in one. It has a built-in multi-axis lanyard, allowing you to attach the light wherever you need it. The stitching in the lanyard, Illumifind™, is reflective and makes it easy to find in the dark. Just shine a light and it pops out! Want to take it to the next level? Their Cairn™ XL Smart Lantern is Bluetooth compatible. Via the free Cairn XL app, you can control power, dimming, color, light alarms, proximity lighting, battery settings, and light strobe.
Well, what’s the use of having a power bank if you don’t any cables? Lander outdid themselves with the Neve®Lightning Cable. Available in Lightning to USB, micro-USB, USB-C, and lengths of 3 feet or 10. Yep, 10 feet of charging bliss!!! Like their power banks, the cables feature the signature Illumiweave® reflective technology that makes it easy to find in the dark. They are also made of nylon in a flat, tangle-free design and long Everpull® connectors, avoiding breakage where most cables fail. Their lifetime warranty also stacks up to their claim that you’ll never need to buy a new cable. My cable has seen a fair amount of action with all the travel and race spectating, and so far I’m giving it a two thumbs up!
Ever in a spot where you need an outlet and there’s none to be found? I have for sure!!! The myCharge Portable Power Outlet is a great solution for all those “need to plug in the wall” electronics. This device also has two USB-A ports and one USB-C port, so it’s like having a mini-generator and power bank in one device. Fully charged, there’s enough juice to run a 34-inch LED TV for up to four hours and the power bank recharges 50% faster than its competitors.
The easy to read light up screen tells you how much juice is left in the unit and the output of power, USB or power outlet. The durable rubber-like casing protects the myCharge from dings and scratches – no need to worry if it accidently gets knocked off the table. During long-haul flights or airport gate areas where power outlets are either scarce or non-existent, the myCharge Portable Power Outlet has kept my laptop and other electronics fired up so I don’t miss a beat! Definitely worth the investment if you aren’t not quite ready for going totally off the grid or have a plethora of electronic devices to charge up while your athlete is out racing!
Edifier MP100 Mini Bluetooth Speaker
As an athlete, I will tell you that hearing awesome tunes as you’re running by is such a great pick-me-up. As a spectathlete, it’s a great way to rally others around you and keep the energy high throughout a race. The Edifier MP100 Mini Bluetooth Speaker was a great companion while I was kayaking across Skaha Lake during the most recent Ultra 520K Canada race. The splash proof exterior ensured I had tunes regardless if the waves started to kick up. The clip at the top of the speaker made it easy to latch onto wherever I needed it. I was also impressed by the sound quality, and at times had to turn down the volume because it packs quite the punch. I also took it with me skiing, and through my pockets I could hear my music crystal clear. The speaker also doubles as a speakerphone so you can take calls hands free and keep on about your business.
The Tinkle Belle
I know what you all are thinking, but sometimes you’re stuck out in the middle of nowhere and nature decides to call…and for us ladies, squatting sometimes can be inconvenient. The Tinkle Belle is ergonomically design to fit the female undercarriage, minimizing the chance for leaks and splash backs. It also comes with a handy case that is waterproof lined just in the event there are a few drops left, and attached with a small carabiner making it super easy to transport. A few months ago at a pre-race briefing, when asked if there would be porto-potties along the course, the race director kindly responded with “You have 520km of bathroom at your disposal.” Disclaimer: Don’t use on private property and be discreet. Just because your friend/brother/boyfriend/husband pees in whatever corner they wish, doesn’t mean it’s okay…but pee freely standing up ladies!!
All these spectathlete must-haves (and more) will be making their way to Kona for the IRONMAN World Championship in my luggage. If you’re curious as to what other goodies will make the trip, feel free to reach out via email at email@example.com or comment on this article’s 303Triathlon Facebook post. See y’all on the Big Island!! Aloha!!
Khem Suthiwan is a staff content editor/media correspondent with 303 Endurance Network, a triathlete, triathlon coach with Mile High Multisport, IRONMAN Foundation Ambassador Athlete, member of the Palmares Racing Cycling Team, avid skier, SCUBA diver, finisher of the 2015 IRONMAN World Championship, and a Colorado resident since January 2001.
*What kind of bike do you ride? Blue-Triad SL (black with yellow)
*Where did you qualify for the Ironman World Championships? I got in through a charity slot with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. I coached with them from 2002 -2010. My qualifying race was the Hanu Half IM in June.
*How many Ironman races have you done? This will be my first IM.
*How many times have you raced Kona? Hanu Half…
*What is your favorite non-race activity on the Big Island – if you have not been – what non-race activity are you most excited about? Surfing!!!!!
*What is your favorite bike training route? I have been riding the windy rolling hills between Aurora Sports Park and Bennett, CO….
*What is your favorite post workout/post race treat? Anything I can get in my mouth!
*What was one unexpected occurrence on your path to Kona? The overwhelming amount of support from my patients ( I am a dentist), community, colleagues, family and friends.
*Who do you think will win the pro men’s and women’s races this year? I am pulling from Merideth Kessler (namesake, but no relation). Not sure about the men’s race.
Here is an article that brings together why I am doing this race/fundraiser.
*Where did you qualify for the Ironman World Championships? For me Qualifying was a little different being part of the Physically Challenged Division Lottery. First my name was chosen, next I had to complete 1 half Iron. I did two one in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and another in Boulder CO.
*How many Ironman races have you done? At this point 2 70.3 races, no fulls.
*How many times have you raced Kona? First Time
*What is your favorite non-race activity on the Big Island – if you have not been – what non-race activity are you most excited about? I am excited to try out surfing and to see a volcano.
*What is your favorite bike training route? I like to ride from Boulder, CO up around Carter lake down the North Side and up to Masonville, then Back to Boulder.
*What is your favorite post workout/post race treat? Either a chocolate Shake and/ or a cheeseburger from Five Guys.
*What was one unexpected occurrence on your path to Kona? 4 Flat tires in Coure D’ Alene, and basically going to Kona all together.
*Who do you think will win the pro men’s and women’s races this year? I honestly can’t say but I have met a few this year at the Boulder Reservoir or in Colorado Multisport shop, all were willing to help me out, truly amazing group of people from this sport!
Josiah Middaugh from Eagle-Vail, Colorado and Lesley Paterson from Scotland captured the 15th annual XTERRA Pan American off-road triathlon elite titles on a beautiful morning at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah on Saturday, September 15, 2018.
It’s the third win in four years for Middaugh at this race, and the second in a row for Paterson. Both have now won the championship in Utah four times in their careers.
More than 500 athletes from 30 countries took part in the event, which was the culmination of a 12-stop series of off-road triathlons spanning South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, and the U.S.
The challenge started with a one-mile swim in Pineview Reservoir (4,900-feet elevation), followed with an 18-mile mountain bike leg that climbed more than 3,000-feet to the top of Sardine Peak (7,300-feet elevation) and culminated with a 7-mile trail run featuring another 700-feet of climbing on trails in the Wasatch Range.
In the men’s elite race Middaugh came out of the water less than one-minute behind the leaders, took the lead from South Africa’s Bradley Weiss at about mile eight on the bike, and took the tape in 2:26:34. Weiss finished second in 2:30:32, and Sam Long from Boulder, Colorado was third in 2:31:18.
One of the race favorites, 2016 XTERRA World Champion Mauricio Mendez, had to drop out during the mountain bike section due to a broken saddle on his bike that couldn’t be repaired.
Brad Zoller had the fastest swim of the day, but Mendez was second out of the water and was charging hard on the bike. Branden Rakita was next, followed by Ian King, Brad Weiss, Karsten Madsen, and Middaugh, who interestingly, didn’t know Mendez was out of the race.
“Going up Wheeler, Brad Weiss was riding off the front and Karsten was riding really well,” said Middaugh. “I caught them both and couldn’t see Mauricio. I thought he was a good minute or two ahead of me up the trail. I thought I was having a really bad day.”
It wasn’t until after the bike-to-run transition that Middaugh realized he was in the lead.