“Many people see Sam as simply a professional athlete. Many forget that he is still just 22 years old.
He has a bright future, the conversations we have are not about fitness, but execution of his training, racing and all the little details that make the difference when you are racing the top 1% of the sport. I can’t wait to see him in 5 years.”
-Eric Kenney Sam’s training advisor
Mauricio Mendez from Mexico and Lesley Paterson from Scotland captured the 10th annual XTERRA Beaver Creek off-road triathlon elite titles on a beautiful morning in the Rocky Mountains surrounding Avon, Colorado on Saturday, July 21, 2018.
It’s the third XTERRA win of the season for Mendez, the 2016 XTERRA World Champion, and the second for Paterson, who captured the ITU Cross Tri World Title just 11 days ago in Denmark.
MAU OF THE MOUNTAIN
The elite men’s race was one of the most exciting back-and-forth, all-out battles in XTERRA history. It all started with a one-mile swim in the 67-degree calm waters of Nottingham Lake. The air quality was good despite a light haze in the air from the wildfire smoke coming from the Lake Christine Fire still burning near Basalt, CO.
Brad Zoller was first out of the water in 17:55, followed closely by Mendez and Branden Rakita. The other key players on the day were roughly 1:40-to-2 minutes back with Sam Long (19:38), Ryan Petry (19:43), Kieran McPherson (19:59), and Josiah Middaugh (20:04) exiting the water in places 7th thru 10th.
At mile four on the bike Mendez, after nearly 2,000-feet of climbing, had 20-seconds on Rakita, 38-seconds on Long, :40 on Petry, and 1:10 on Middaugh.
“When we were on the bike I could tell this was going to be a super hard race,” said Mendez. “The whole race was hard because you didn’t know if it was about pacing or attacking, and I didn’t know how my body was going to respond.”
About one-mile later at the top of the climb (about 9,400-feet) Long passed Mendez for the lead.
“I just hammered the bike, I stayed on the gas the whole time,” said Long.
“He did,” replied Mendez. “Sam rode super hard, he was attacking, attacking, attacking the whole time.”
At mile 11 Long was still in the lead, Petry had moved into second 30-seconds behind with Mendez on his wheel, Middaugh was 50-seconds back, and Rakita was one-minute behind in fifth.