Josiah Middaugh wins; Xterra title close

BEAVER CREEK — Enjoy your vacation, Josiah.

Local off-road triathlete Josiah Middaugh certainly has earned some R-and-R after winning the Xterra Mountain Championship Saturday in Avon and Beaver Creek.

“We’re heading on a family vacation tomorrow,” Middaugh said after his second win in three years on his home course. “We’ll back down the training and do a little bit of kicking back to help extend the season.”

Of course, with three youngsters, Collin, Sullivan and Larsen, in tow, how much rest Middaugh and his better half, Ingrid, may get is up for debate.

“It will probably be exhausting,” Middaugh joked.

Middaugh and his fans, of which there were many Saturday, have a reason to laugh a bit and kick up their heels. Middaugh won handily with a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes, well ahead of Branden Rakita of Colorado Springs (2:13:56) and Ben Hoffman of Boulder (2:14:20).

Saturday was a big win for many reasons.

“It feels awesome,” Middaugh said. “It’s definitely a big race for me. It’s not just that it’s my local mountain. This course is very similar to (the courses of) nationals and worlds.”

That is the bigger picture. With the win, Middaugh took the lead in the Xterra points standings, going into nationals in Ogden, Utah, in September. He is a perfect 3-for-3 in Xterra competitions in 2013 — all racers get to drop one event, and he’s dropping Xterra East, in which he did not participate because it was also the weekend of the GoPro Mountain Games here.

That gives him 300 points for the season, going into the final race in September, comfortably ahead of Dan Hugo (248), who finished seventh Saturday, and Rakita (235), in his quest for what has been an elusive chase for the season title. Middaugh has never led in the points,going into nationals, a race he conquered for the first time last year.

With the disclaimer that absolutely anything can happen during an off-road triathlon and not trying to incur the wrath of any gods of sport which may be watching, Middaugh is in very good shape to capture the series title in September.

What was also very satisfying for Middaugh was the way in which he won the Mountain Championship. In the past two years, he has altered his training program to achieve better results in Xterra races and it seems to be bearing fruit.

Middaugh had hoped to be about 75-90 seconds behind the leader after the swim, his weakest discipline, in Nottingham Lake. In reality, he was 2 minutes, 37 seconds off the pace, held by Matthew Balzer of Reno, Nev. Middaugh rebounded in the biking, as is his calling card. He followed through beautifully on his pre-race plans of crushing the first 5 miles of the 15.5-mile ride. Said 5 miles contained 2,000 feet of elevation gain, a stretch perfectly-suited for an athlete who trains at high altitude.

Middaugh clocked a 1:09:11 stint on the bike, which beat all comers handily. That gave him a lead on Rakita by 4:36 and Hoffman by 5:41, going into the run.

There have been times in Middaugh’s triathlon career when he has been physically-spent, entering the run. With his different training, he still had gas in the tank for the final leg.

In fact, he won the run in 37:39 and gained time during that leg on both of his closest competitors.

“I do a lot of back-to-back hard workouts, biking and running,” Middaugh said. “I’ll do hard workouts on back-to-back days that are pretty high intensity. It’s preparing myself for feeling fatigue, and to be able to come back from a hard effort.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or via cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Jul 20, 2013 09:21PM Published Jul 21, 2013 09:33PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.