HENDERSON, Nev. - How's that for starters?
Edwards' Josiah Middaugh started his 2013 off-road triathlon season Saturday with a bang, winning the Xterra West Championship at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nev. And to make the win more sweet, Middaugh reeled in his biggest rival, South Africa's Conrad Stoltz, during the running leg of the race for the victory.
"I feel really good about it," Middaugh said. "It's really good for the points series. To have a win under my belt takes some pressure off. I still definitely have some work to do."
It's not exactly like Middaugh spends his winters like a couch potato. He's doing all sorts of winter endurance sports. He's also doing triathon training, swimming at the Westin pool in Avon and doing computrainer biking workouts with Dogma. The latter even simulates hotter conditions.
That served Middaugh's fitness well, but there's nothing like going out and actually doing the swimming, biking and running in an actual race, which makes this a satisfying win.
Middaugh, who has been constantly striving to improve the swimming portion of his racing, had a tough paddle Saturday. He was two-and-a-half minutes behind Stoltz, going into the run.
That margin remained the same during the mountain bike.
"I felt really good on the climbs," Middaugh said. "It's a series of 1-3-minute climbs, but it was hard course, and I couldn't get my rhythm. I wasn't completely comfortable. I had some minor mechanical trouble. I was worried I wasn't going to be able to claw my way back into the race."
Though there were still 10 kilometers (roughly 6 miles) of running to go, Middaugh had to catch Stoltz quickly. The first 4 miles of the run was mostly uphill, and after that, Stoltz would be off to the races.
"I had to catch him early," Middaugh said. "I caught him in the third mile. It was a tough course and it was 90 degrees."
The next Xterra triathon is in Pelham, Ala., in May.
"I need to focus on my swimming and get outdoors on a mountain bike," he said.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.