April 25, 2015 (Lake Las Vegas – Henderson, Nevada) –Francisco Serrano and Lesley Paterson won the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series opener at the XTERRA West Championship on a cool morning around the desert of Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada today.
The race started in the calm 67-degree waters of Lake Las Vegas fronting the Reflection Bay Golf Clubhouse with Australian XTERRA star Ben Allen leading everyone out of the water. His lead wouldn’t last long, however, as former Olympian “Paco” Serrano from Monterrey, Mexico stormed to the front in the first mile and never looked back.
“I felt really good, and it was a fast swim, faster than I expected,” said Serrano, who has been racing XTERRA on-and-off since 2004 and is a three-time XTERRA Mexico Champion. “Ben was about 35 seconds ahead out of the water but I was able to catch him fast. He stayed close though and came back on the down hills. I knew Josiah (Middaugh) was back there somewhere and going to be really fast and I knew he might catch me but thought if I did everything perfect I’d have a shot at the win. Everything went smooth, my nutrition, my water, both transitions. It was just a great race.”
Middaugh had the fastest bike split of the day (1:11:18), almost two minutes better than Serrano, but still couldn’t make up the difference he lost in the swim (2:24) by the bike-to-run transition.
“I didn’t see that coming,” said Middaugh, who had won the last two West Championship titles here in the desert. “I got into the second lap on the bike and thought Ben was in the lead and it wasn’t until I caught him that I realized Paco was still a minute-half up front. So then I poured it on hard the last half of the bike trying to play catch-up, burnt some matches there and didn’t have a lot left on the run.”
Serrano had the fastest run of the day in 34:07 and took the tape in 2:06:56, nearly two minutes ahead of Middaugh.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Serrano. “I know Josiah is among the very best of the best and it’s an honor to be on the podium with him and the other guys. I can’t remember ever beating him before but like I said, I knew this is like my perfect course with the climbing, dirt, and fast running.”
The ever-humble Middaugh, who has now finished second in his last four races (to Ruben Ruzafa at the XTERRA USA and World Championship races last year, and last month to Rom Akerson at XTERRA Costa Rica), was able to take it all in stride.
“You don’t learn anything from winning,” he smiled. “Nothing went wrong. I just came up short. Francisco kind of led from start to finish. I got close on the bike and maybe about a mile into the run and then he poured it on again. He looked real fresh out there, had a good turnover and was just hard to catch. He was strong all day. I felt like I put in a really good effort and I put it all out there.”
While Serrano and Middaugh were in a race all their own up front, Chris Ganter had the race of his life five minutes behind them. The 36-year-old from Boise, Idaho passed 10 guys on the bike to move into the third spot where he finished for his first career podium.
“Definitely my career best XTERRA performance, by far,” said Ganter, perhaps motivated on the day by his lack of mention in the pre-race prognostications. “A lot of hard work goes into the off-season, and I give a lot of the credit to my coach for putting the pieces of the puzzle together for me, and for my sponsors support that has allowed me to train and go after this like a professional.”
Ganter was also missing his signature mustache for this one, perhaps streamlining his efforts a bit … “kind of the opposite of a playoff beard,” he laughed.
Allen overcome the understandable fatigue associated with crossing numerous time zones with races in the Western Pacific, then over to Australia, and finally to Vegas over the last couple weeks and finished fourth, holding off a hard-charging Branden Rakita by just three seconds.
“When Serrano and Josiah came past I just didn’t have that extra gear to push that I normally would have if I was fresh,” he explained. “Those early races seem to be taken its toll on me now. I tried to stay with Serrano when he came by but he attacked hard and I seemed stuck in a one pace rhythm. These guys are just too strong to not have your best. I’m realistic about it though, and won’t get too down on myself. I’ve had a good early season and really I’m here for the experience, and to get used to the U.S.”
Allen will now head to Langkawi, Malaysia via an airport stop-over in Australia to contest Bradley Weiss for the XTERRA Asian Tour Championship next Saturday.
“I was going to opt not to go but then I would’ve handed the Asian Tour title to Brad on a silver platter,” said Allen. “As it is, I’ll get their Friday afternoon for a Saturday race. I’ll be smashed but give it everything I got.”
Rakita was strong all day and nearly caught Allen at the tape but ran out of real estate.
“I was in an all-out sprint in the home stretch and could see Ben right in front of me but just ran out of room,” he explained.
|1||Francisco Serrano||34||Monterrey, Mexico||2:06:56||100|
|2||Josiah Middaugh||36||Eagle-Vail, Colorado||2:08:44||90|
|3||Chris Ganter||36||Boise, Idaho||2:13:48||82|
|4||Ben Allen||30||Wollongong, Australia||2:14:53||75|
|5||Branden Rakita||34||Colorado Springs, Colorado||2:14:56||69|
|6||Karsten Madsen||23||Guelph, Ontario, CAN||2:15:47||63|
|7||Craig Evans||37||Hendersonville, Tennessee||2:17:16||58|
|8||Brad Zoller||37||Avon, Colorado||2:17:54||53|
|9||Alex Modestou||28||Durham, North Carolina||2:18:42||49|
|10||Ryan Ignatz||36||Boulder, Colorado||2:19:18||45|
|Also: JP Donovan (41), James Hadley (37), Jimmy Archer (34), Kyle Hughes (31)|
PATERSON ON TRACK
Shoulder fracture or not, Lesley Paterson is a force to be reckoned with. She posted the fastest bike split of the day by more than two minutes and the fastest run by a minute to win the West title in 2:24:23, three minutes ahead of runner-up Emma Garrard.
“Just so exciting to be back racing after sitting out most of last year, I was in full depression mode,” said Paterson. “Then when I crashed before Costa Rica I cried for two nights straight, but what can you do. You pick yourself up, get your Braveheart on, and think what you can do rather than what you can’t.”
It’s Paterson’s second win of the season after running down Garrard at XTERRA Costa Rica last month with a fractured shoulder. She didn’t even know if she’d get cleared to race until this week, and the extremely good news is that she says her shoulder feels okay.
“I’ve been doing every therapy I could think of for it, and I really couldn’t believe it this morning when I started two-arm swimming and it didn’t feel that bad at all. As a result, I didn’t come that far down out of the water and I felt good on the bike. On the first steep climb I passed Sara McLarty (who swam almost three minutes faster than the rest of the women) and I had already passed Suzie Snyder, Emma, and Melanie McQuaid. Emma came back at me after a couple miles and then I just went for it.”
Paterson pulled away then looked like the two-time World Champ we all remember on the run, literally flying down hills with a seemingly effortless stride.
“Ya know what’s crazy is I didn’t run for like six months over the winter to give my body some healing time, and amazingly I haven’t lost that much on my run because I was biking so much,” said Paterson, who’s next goal is to make her Olympic mountain biking team.
“I want to do the mountain bike stuff across the summer, some World Cups and the British Championship on the Olympic course and see how I stack up against some of the girls. I think I’ve got the potential, and it would be awesome to try and go for the Olympics. It may be a real long shot but why not.”
For the Paterson the XTERRA Tribe has come to love, nothing really seems like a long shot.
“For right now, it’s just great to be around these girls again,” said Paterson. “I’ve got a huge smile on my face to be around Emma and Suzie and Mel and everybody. We’re giving each other “whowahs” and cheering each other on. That’s what this sport is all about, that’s why I love it.”
Garrard posted the second-best bike and run splits to Paterson, was once again the top American female, and strode across the finish line with her son Torin who no longer needs to be carried.
“I had a pretty good race Lesley was just going really fast out there. It was nice to be able to stay up with her in stretches and see her in front for a while,” said Garrard.
Suzie Snyder, who won XTERRA New Zealand 14 days ago and was fourth at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Champs seven days ago, is just happy to have survived the day and happy with her third-place finish.
“I’m so tired,” she smiled. “I had a descent swim and a fair bike, but then on the run my legs were cramping so bad. I’m so excited to just chill out and stay in one place for more than a day.”
Snyder is just now making the move from Virginia to Reno, Nevada, and will have a great group of XTERRA people to have fun with near her new digs.
Three-time XTERRA World Champion Melanie McQuaid was solid all around to finish fourth, and last year’s amateur XTERRA World Champ Brittany Webster – a Winter Olympian from Canada – placed fifth in her pro debut.
|1||Lesley Paterson||34||San Diego, California (Scotland)||2:24:23||100|
|2||Emma Garrard||33||Park City, Utah||2:27:26||90|
|3||Suzie Snyder||33||Fredericksburg, Virginia||2:31:33||82|
|4||Melanie McQuaid||41||Victoria, B.C., Canada||2:35:20||75|
|5||Brittany Webster||27||Canmore, Alberta, Canada||2:38:53||69|
|6||Kara LaPoint||27||Truckee, California||2:40:07||63|
|7||Sara Schuler||34||Boulder, Colorado||2:40:49||58|
|8||Katie Button||29||Victoria, B.C., Canada||2:40:58||53|
|9||Maia Ignatz||34||Boulder, Colorado||2:40:58||49|
|10||Debby Sullivan||33||Rocklin, California||2:45:12||45|
|Also: Sara McLarty (41), Caroline Colonna (37), Lauren Thompson (34), Rebecca Blatt (31)|
The XTERRA West Championship was the first of five championship races in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series. Elites count their best three-of-four regional scores plus whatever they get at Nationals to determine the Series winner. Next up is the XTERRA Southeast Championship race, which is doubling as the USA Triathlon Off-Road Nationals, on May 16 at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama.
BALZER, ANDERS WIN AMATEUR CROWNS
Matthew Balzer won the overall amateur title at the XTERRA West Champs for the second straight year, finishing two minutes ahead of Bryce Phinney. In the women’s race 17-year-old Rachel Anders from Sandy, Utah finished 11th overall among all women, ahead of several pros and the rest of the amateur field. Here’s a look at all of today’s XTERRA West Champions:
|XTERRA WEST CHAMPIONS (FEMALE)|
|15 – 19||Rachel Anders||2:47:20|
|20 – 24||Heather Wilson||3:20:31|
|25 – 29||Lisa Leonard||2:49:50|
|30 – 34||Sian Turner||2:50:44|
|35 – 39||Julie Baker||2:53:03|
|40 – 44||Amy Thornquist||2:58:39|
|45 – 49||Linda Vigil||3:18:39|
|50 – 54||Janet Soule||3:11:19|
|55 – 59||Sharon McDowell-Larsen||2:58:58|
|60 – 64||Lorenn Walker||3:56:13|
|XTERRA WEST CHAMPIONS (MALE)|
|15 – 19||David Duncan||2:28:39|
|20 – 24||Jeff Sabatka||2:27:59|
|25 – 29||Evan Kraus||2:34:10|
|30 – 34||Matthew Balzer||2:21:09|
|35 – 39||Bryce Phinney||2:23:15|
|40 – 44||David Dornaus||2:32:52|
|45 – 49||Stephen White||2:34:13|
|50 – 54||Mark Milam||2:38:49|
|55 – 59||Bruce Wilson||2:41:33|
|60 – 64||Tom Perry||2:56:12|
|65 – 69||Bill Blankenship||3:32:48|
|70 – 74||Roger Kern||5:08:39|
|75 – 79||Ron Hill||5:41:00|