Middaugh 2nd, while younger Middaugh is 1st | VailDaily.com

Middaugh 2nd, while younger Middaugh is 1st

Mauricio Mendez Cruz finishes the first section of Xterra Beaver Creek, transitioning from the swim to the mountain bike, on Saturday, July 21, at Nottingham Park in Avon. Cruz took first place in the race, knocking off five-time defending champion Josiah Middaugh.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

BEAVER CREEK — Mexico City’s Mauricio Mendez Cruz snapped local triathlete Josiah Middaugh’s streak of five consecutive wins at Xterra Beaver Creek on Saturday, July 21.

After a 1-mile swim, 25 kilometers of mountain biking, Cruz caught Middaugh during the fourth mile of the 6.2-mile run to capture the win.

“I felt great,” Cruz said. “It’s a hard race. I know this is Josiah’s hometown, and just to see my levels of fitness, to see where I am with these kind of people is amazing. It was a tough a really tough race. But I’m super happy to have the win.”

Cruz finished in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 35 seconds, roughly a minute ahead of Middaugh (2:08.31).

“This race is never easy,” Middaugh said. “The years I have won, I don’t necessarily feel good. But this was a struggle today. I felt a little bit flat from the start, which is tough way to race. You keep your head down and you keep working hard.”

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While second is nothing to sneeze at, all was not lost for the Middaugh family as Sullivan Middaugh, 14, won the men’s sprint triathlon, a shorter version of the pro course, for the second year in a row with younger brother, Porter Middaugh, in fourth place.

Speaking of repeating, Scotland’s Lesley Paterson went back-to back in the women’s Xterra Beaver Creek.

Cruz-ing in the run

Cruz is no stranger to the podium at Beaver Creek. He finished second to Josiah Middaugh here last year. The key to this year’s race was that Josiah Middaugh wasn’t as dominant on the mountain bike as in years past, and did not have as much of a cushion as he would have liked going into the run, Cruz’s strength.

“He’s just lethal on the run,” Josiah Middaugh said of Cruz. “Mexico City is the same elevation as here, so no advantage there. I knew I’d be hard pressed to hold him off. Last year I had more like a two-minute cushion (going into the run) and I held him off. This year, I had less than a minute, and I knew it was going to be tough. He caught me by mile (No.) 4.”

While Cruz and Josiah Middaugh have different schedules, their paths will cross again at Xterra Pan Am in Ogden, Utah, in September as well as at the Xterra World Championship in Hawaii.

Josiah Middaugh won the latter in 2015, followed by Cruz in 2016.

After two more Xterra races in August, one in Mexico and the other in Canada, Josiah Middaugh plans on regrouping for his traditional late-season push.

“With triathlon, I always say it’s easy to be good at two things. It’s really tough to focus on all three,” Josiah Middaugh said. “Ideally, I’d like to get faster in all three. I’m going to have to go back to my strengths and that’s usually what I’m doing at the end of the season. I’m focusing on strengths. Race your strength.”

Mission Impossible?

Last year, Paterson, who was born in Stirling, Scotland, and lives in San Diego, came to Colorado 12 days in advance of Xterra Beaver Creek to adjust to the thin air. She had no such luxury this year, as she was winning the International Triathlon Union Cross World Championship in Denmark last weekend.

Yet she still knows her way around the course, finishing in 2:34:21, finishing ahead of Boulder’s Tess Amer (2:35:12).

“It was a really tough course. Obviously, the altitude makes it even harder,” Paterson said. “So, yeah, it was a super tough day, but a beautiful course and always nice to repeat and win.”

After such a busy schedule, Paterson is due some down time, which includes chocolate and some movies.

“There’s the new Mission Impossible coming out,” she said. “I want to see that.”

Here come the Middaughs

While there is no doubt that genetics help, let’s make this clear, Josiah Middaugh is not an Earl Woods-like father, intent on making his sons athletic prodigies.

But young master Sullivan Middaugh won the Xterra sprint triathlon — 0.5 mile of swimming, 14.5 kilometers on the bike and 4.9 miles of running — for the second year in a row, while Porter, 12 was fourth among the 99 men entered in the race.

“I guess he just wants me to do as well as I can,” Sullivan Middaugh said. “I don’t know.”

Like most kids in the county, Sullivan Middaugh is active during the summer months. He’s on a swim team, runs with the Battle Mountain cross-country team during optional summer workouts as a freshman-to-be, and competes in the men’s sport division of the East West Destination Hospitality Mountain Bike Series every other Wednesday.

And so, maybe it wasn’t too surprising that when he got to the end of the mountain-biking leg, he knew he had the lead.

“I didn’t know I was ahead until the second transition because there were no bikes there,” he said.

The 14-year-old said he took “a hard pace,” and broke the finish ribbon in 1:28:05.

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