Braden Currie, has captured his third XTERRA Championship of the year (following back-to-back wins at XTERRA New Zealand and XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in April). Currie won the XTERRA Southeast Championship in Pelham, Alabama after a race long head to head battle with XTERRA’s current preeminent bridesmaid, Josiah Middaugh, who has now claimed five runner up finishes in a row. (Twice to Ruben Ruzafa at the USA and World Championships last year, to Rom Akerson at XTERRA Costa Rica in March, to Francisco Serrano at the West Championship last month, and to Currie today)
Craig Evans led a group of 6 out of the water including Currie, Branden Rakita, Karsten Madsen, Brad Zoller, and recent XTERRA convert and super swimmer Sara McLarty.
Middaugh sacrificed just over two minutes to Currie in the swim before making use of his omnipresent best bike split to reclaim the two minutes and come in to T2 with Currie.
Currie recalled the race saying “I’d only ridden the course once so I knew Josiah had that advantage there and probably as well that he’s a lot stronger rider than I am, but I had that break out of the swim so he had to work really hard to catch up from the start. I caught Craig Evans on the bike and I asked him ‘when does Josiah normally catch you’ and he says ‘not until the run’, but then I looked back and Josiah was only five meters behind me so sure enough he shot past. Josiah is a really strong cyclist, so I knew he’d catch up somewhere. When he did I let him go passed and followed him around, then ran into a tree and had to catch back up again”.
After chasing hard Currie recovered from his mistake on the bike to join Middaugh entering T2. The two then began an epic parry and thrust battle for the ages on the run proving XTERRA to be the best true, three event, racing in the Triathlon world.
Middaugh recalled the run saying “I was trying to feel it out first lap a little bit and he went out really hard and I thought maybe he might be bluffing. On that first lap I figured out I was a little bit stronger on the climbs, and he was a little bit faster on the flats, so on the second lap I hit every climb as hard as I possibly could but I just couldn’t shake him. I’d open up a couple steps and he’d come right back. We were both trying to soften each other up a little bit on the run. We would put in these half moves, tons of bursts, but not really full on, it was just to see if the other guy would fall off. I can’t remember a race this close before. I liked it. It was a little tactical. We attacked each other probably a dozen times on the run. I was attacking on the hills but there weren’t enough of those.”
In the end it came down to a finishing straight sprint, and Currie was just a bit stronger. Middaugh explained “At the end of the second lap we hit the pavement and I grabbed some water – not to drink but to wake myself up – and he took off. I wasn’t giving up, though. I was pumping my arms, giving everything I had.”
Currie will be staying in the USA for the six months to focus on the XTERRA America Series. We expect this may be only the first battle of a season long war between Currie and Middaugh.
Currie and Middaugh were not the only battle happening on the day as third through eighth were separated by less than five minutes. Also, as is true to the world of XTERRA the greatest battle of the day was with the course itself. XTERRA Alabama is a course that becomes more technical the faster you ride it. Today it claimed a few with crashes or punctures. This is one of the beauties of XTERRA, it is a true multisport challenge. You can take it easy and be entirely safe and enjoy the beauty of the course, or you can push your limits and find out what your made of. DirtTRI gives huge respect to those who suffered mechanical or physicals on the day. You’re all true warriors.
The XTERRA America series next moves to the XTERRA East Championships at the longest running championship venue in the America Series at one of the best all around courses in the off-road triathlon world at Richmond, Virginia.
Mens Pro Results:
- 1 Braden Currie #9 :20:38 01:23:34 00:34:11 2:18:23
- 2 Josiah Middaugh #1 :22:53 01:21:20 00:34:13 2:18:26
- 3 Chris Ganter #2 :23:28 01:24:34 00:36:30 2:24:32
- 4 Craig Evans #5 :19:39 01:25:16 00:40:54 2:25:49
- 5 Olly Shaw #11 :23:25 01:25:43 00:38:06 2:27:14
- 6 Branden Rakita #3 :20:34 01:28:42 00:38:42 2:27:58
- 7 Alex Modestou #7 :21:51 01:29:08 00:37:38 2:28:37
- 8 Ryan Ignatz #8 :23:24 01:29:14 00:36:57 2:29:35
- 9 Brad Zoller #6 :20:44 01:31:27 00:39:29 2:31:40
- 10 Chris Foster #12 :22:44 01:40:15 00:38:51 2:41:50
XTERRA race recap:
May 16, 2015 (Pelham, AL) – Braden Currie from Wanaka, New Zealand and Lesley Paterson from Sterling, Scotland won the 10th annual XTERRA Southeast Championship triathlon at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama this morning.
The men’s race came down to a sprint finish between Currie and last year’s champion, Josiah Middaugh from Vail, Colorado. The two ran stride for stride for the entire six-mile trail run, the final stage of the race, with Currie taking the tape in 2:18:23, just three seconds ahead of Middaugh.
In the women’s race two-time XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson was the sixth pro woman after the one-mile swim in Double Oak Lake, took the lead about a one-third of the way through the 20-mile mountain bike stage, and won comfortably in 2:39:13, more than four-minutes ahead of runner-up Emma Garrard of Park City, Utah.
Today’s race also doubled as the USA Triathlon Off-Road National Championship race. As such, the top American finishers Middaugh and Garrard were honored as the USAT Elite National Champions.