Colorado Athletes on Maui: Ryan McMullen

 

This is my 5th season in Xterra and this will be my 2nd trip to the World Championship. I qualified at Beaver Creek (3rd amateur overall) and at the Pan American Championship in Utah (3rd in age group). I have had a very rewarding season and I’m excited to cap things off in HI.

This is the 5 year benchmark of my racing and has had me reminiscing a lot lately. I started this journey with almost no experience in any of the disciplines of triathlon. I grew up riding BMX bikes around the neighborhood, I took a few swim lessons as a kid, and I ran cross country for a couple of years in high school to hang out with the girls. However, I have always had a strong drive to be active and for most of my life basketball was an outlet and a passion of mine. I poured myself into that sport and I’m very grateful for what it gave me in return, but basketball is tough on your body and eventually I had to look for another outlet. At the same time I was struggling with some old lifestyle habits that were essentially killing me both physically and emotionally.

 

 

The turning point for me was this very clear moment when I realized that my two little girls weren’t going to have their dad around for very much longer if I wasn’t willing to change who I was and what I was doing. So I started making some small positive changes and the momentum just grew, as did the void. Then I remember watching one of the nationally broadcasted Xterra shows and the seed was planted. With absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into, I quickly signed up for an off-road triathlon in Lakewood, CO called “Battle the Bear”. At the time I had no idea what I was doing. I was 40 lbs. overweight, I could barely swim, I couldn’t seem to keep the rubber side of the bike down, and the run just flat out hurt; but I finished, and I found a new passion.

XTERRA World Championships – The Numbers

Photo: XTERRA
Photo: XTERRA

The XTERRA World Championship race debuted in 1996.  Overall winners that year were Jimmy Piccitello and Michellie Jones.  As you scroll forward through time, the names that layer the podium are familiar as masters of triathlon, both on road and off, including Mike Pigg, Conrad Stotlz, Michael Weiss, Sibylle Matter, Shari Kain and Flora Duffy.   Results history here.

The XTERRA World Championship athlete field is much smaller than the IRONMAN World Championship field, with just under 800 slots for the Maui-bound athletes as opposed to 2300 in Kona.  Certainly it has much to do with the nature – and differences – in the courses.

Because the field is so much smaller, number crunching is easier.  So, let’s take a look.

300 of the 794 athletes registered to race are from the USA; that’s nearly 40%.

55 of those 300 are from Colorado, including pro’s.  That’s two more than IRONMAN. Though the number is similar, the overall percentage is not: 18.3% of Maui’s athletes are Coloradoans, as opposed to 2.3% of Kona’s athletes.

71 pro athletes, 50 men, 21 women.  19 US pro’s, 6.5 from Colorado.  This includes reigning World Champion Josiah Middaugh from Vail, part time Colorado resident Flora Duffy, also reigning World Champion and full fledged Boulder resident Maia Ignatz from Boulder, whose husband Ryan is one of the men’s pro athletes.

Ok, so while the pro’s are cool, at 303Triathlon we pride ourselves on highlighting the age group athletes. Most of these athletes got their start in road tris, and continue to race both on- and off-road.

Sixteen AG women from Colorado will be racing.  All of these women are badasses!  Some women to keep an eye on would be Libby Harrow of Fruita and Cindi Toepel from Littleton.  Libby will be defending her 65-69 AG win from last year but she’s got some tough competition because Cindi won the 60-64 AG last year, and aged up.  The only other two women in the 65-69 AG this year are from New Zealand.

32 AG men will be toeing the line in Sunday.  Many of these men have raced at National and World Championship level road tri races.  And for more than a few, this is a return trip to Maui.

Stay tuned for more XTERRA news this week, including some Colorado athlete profiles, and be sure to watch our twitter feed on race day Sunday!