Middaugh recaptures Xterra Beaver Creek crown
Other Middaughs do well, too
BEAVER CREEK — It wasn’t like he disappeared, but welcome back, Josiah.
Local offroad triathlete par excellence Josiah Middaugh returned to his winning ways on his home course, knocking down the competition during Saturday’s 1-mile swim in Avon’s Nottingham Lake, 15.5-mile mountain-bike ride, from the town to the resort, and 6.2-mile run, ending near Centennial lift.
Middaugh, 40, completed the travail in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 27 seconds, 2 minutes, 31 seconds ahead of New Zealand’s Sam Osborne.
“After finishing second last year (to Mexico’s Mauricio Mendez), you never take it for granted,” Middaugh said. “Some years, I’ve really struggled to have the right type of form, the right type of energy on this course in particular with the added pressure of being at home. I feel like I put it together today and you just don’t know how many days like that you’re going to have.”
It’s Middaugh’s 36th career Xterra win and his seventh triumph at Beaver Creek (2011, 2013-17 and 2019).
And having competed in three triathlons in as many weeks — finishing second in Victoria, British Columbia behind Osborne, and winning in Quebec last weekend, followed by Beaver Creek — it’s time for some family vacation.
Beaver Creek Blast?
Avon’s Brad Zoller, Branden Rakita, of Colorado Springs, and Osborne were all together coming out of the swim in Avon. This leg has never been Middaugh’s strength. The traditional goal is to be within 1-2 minutes of the lead pack going into the mountain biking.
Middaugh had a good swim and was just 1:23 off the leading pack.
Not only are the trails of Avon and Beaver Creek familiar territory for Middaugh, but the mountain-biking portion is essentially the annual Beaver Creek Blast racecourse (with the exception of the climb up Elkhorn), the final race Wednesday summer race of the Vail Recreation District Westin Athletic Club Mountain Bike Series.
Middaugh “caught them the earliest I’ve ever caught the leaders,” on the bike. He had the fastest time in the saddle in 1:10:19, a full 3 minutes faster than Osborn, his chief competition for the win.
As Bluto Blutarsky reminded us in “Animal House,” “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” No, and neither was this triathlon.
Middaugh’s had races where he led after biking only to run out of gas on the run. But his vast racing experience helped Middaugh pace himself during the biking and running legs enabling him to outdo his rivals, who are in their late 20s.
Of course, knowing you’re leading also puts some spring in your step.
“You have a different kind of energy when you’re in the lead,” Middaugh said. “There is no thought of settling for second. You’re doing everything in your power to get to the finish.”
In other Middaugh news …
Josiah wasn’t the only member of the family triathloning — if that is a verb — well on Saturday.
Sullivan Middaugh, a sophomore to be at Battle Mountain, finished 16th in his first foray into a full-length Xterra triathlon. Sullivan finished in 2:33.49.
Sullivan won the sprint division — 0.5-mile swim, 8.9 miles on the bike and a 3-mile run — last year. This year, Porter Middaugh won the sprint.
“The pressure is on for Larsen,” Josiah said of his daughter. “Don’t tell her because she told me she doesn’t like to swim or bike or run.”
To be clear, Middaugh is completely joking. Regardless of his caliber in his chosen profession, he’s very hands-off, along with his better half, Ingrid, when it comes to the kids and their involvement in sports.
“I don’t coach my kids,” said Middaugh, who runs an eponymous coaching business, training a lot of athletes who were in Saturday’s race. “I give them advice if they need it. But otherwise, they can find their own path. They have to find their own passion.”
And right now, the Middaughs’ passion is going on vacation.