Middaugh tops podium at Xterra off-road triathlon event in Oak Mountain, Alabama | VailDaily.com

Middaugh tops podium at Xterra off-road triathlon event in Oak Mountain, Alabama

Eagle-Vail resident Josiah Middaugh earned his first win of the off-road triathlon season Saturday, May 19, at Xterra Oak Mountain in Alabama.

The win was Middaugh's fifth in six years in Alabama and earned him 100 points in the Xterra Pan Am Pro series, a good boost toward the 2018 series overall title, which Middaugh won in 2017 and 2016. The defending champion, however, says he's not trying to achieve the series win this season.

"It's just going to be too hard for me to chase points all over South America," he said. "I've decided not to race all those back-to-back weekends and spent too much time away from family."

The father of three has been competing in Xterra off-road triathlon races since the early 2000s, before there was a Pan Am Pro series. Over the years he has notched wins in all of Xterra's marquee competitions, and that's where he has set his goals for his season.

"My main focus will be winning the big events in North America," he said.

The Oak Mountain event was the first gold-level Xterra race in North America, and running away with the win in that contest has Middaugh one-fourth of the way toward achieving his goal. Next up will be Xterra's Mountain Championship, taking place in Beaver Creek in July, followed by the Xterra USA Championship in Ogden, Utah, in September, and finally the Xterra World Championship in Maui, Hawaii, in October.

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Middaugh also plans on heading down to the Dominican Republic in June for an Xterra race, and he will also likely compete in Xterra's Mexico Championship in August.

Even with that busy schedule, Middaugh says he'll be lucky to place in the top three for the series. An always-evolving prospect, this year a win in the overall series will require participation in a lot of races, as there's no cap on the number of competitions which will comprise the leaderboard. With races taking place throughout the summer, the winner likely will have bounced around the western hemisphere quite a bit by the time it's over.

"The last two years I've been able to pull it off without doing every single race, but this year there's just going to be too many races which count," Middaugh said on Sunday, May 20. "I'm just not willing to do that much traveling."

Even with the 100 points he earned for Saturday's win, Middaugh is already falling behind in the standings.

"The national championship will be worth 200 points, but I'm already more than 200 points behind," he said with a laugh. "So my main focus will be to set myself up to have the best races I can possibly have in Beaver Creek, Ogden and Maui."

GENETIC LONGEVITY

Saturday's race was one of Middaugh's last races as an athlete in his 30s. The veteran competitor will turn 40 on July 25.

While off-road triathlon has more impact on the body than its on-road counterpart, Middaugh has often said he finds it to be a lot more fun, which is one of the many things that keeps him doing it.

He has also cultivated a lot of great relationships while competing on the Xterra circuit, another factor that prevents him from retiring.

"It ends up being a pretty tight-knit group of people who race together all over the world, especially in the other countries where people are super into the sport and really happy to have you there," Middaugh said. "You end up making some really great friendships that way."

Middaugh says he hit his athletic peak in his late 30s, exemplified by his series overall wins in 2017 and 2016 and his career-highlight Xterra World Championship win, which he achieved at age 37.

Middaugh became inspired to keep improving into his 40s after watching his father, Steve Middaugh, improve on his running times as a quadragenarian.

"He had his best 10K performances late in his 40s," Middaugh said of his father. "That motivates me to keep running."

'SUCH A VETERAN RACER'

At Saturday's event in Alabama, it was indeed the running portion of the race which allowed Middaugh to come out on top.

Xterra races start with a swim through a lake and are followed by a mountain biking section before ending with a 10K trail run. The swimming portion of the race is usually Middaugh's weakest section, and on Saturday Middaugh exited the water in ninth place, nearly three-minutes behind the leaders.

"I finally caught the leaders at the end of the biking portion," Middaugh said. "Then on the run I had a really good day, I was surprised at how much I had left in the tank."

By the time he reached the finish line, Middaugh was more than a minute in front of second-place finisher Karsten Madsen.

"I was trying to best Josiah today but he's such a veteran racer and he found that extra gear," Madsen said on Saturday. "That's Xterra, when it's close and competitive like that, it's absolutely phenomenal."

Concentrating on every step, Middaugh said his focus was what gave him his advantage.

"We were in a hardwood forest the whole time, and you can't really see more than 15 seconds in front of you," he said. "If your mind wanders, your time starts to get slower, especially if you're by yourself out there. But staying focused is something I've worked on my whole career, and that's at least one thing that seems to be getting better with age."

MIDDAUGH COACHING CLINIC UPCOMING

Hearing Josiah Middaugh talk about his older brother, Yaro, one may be reminded of Sherlock Holmes talking about his older brother, Mycroft. Sherlock describes Mycroft as being smarter than himself, and in his characteristically humble fashion, Josiah describes Yaro as being stronger and faster than he is.

“I probably own him for a lot of my success,” Josiah said of Yaro. “I was always in his shadow all through high school.”

The brothers work together in their fitness business, Middaugh Coaching, and will be hosting a clinic to help people tune up for the Xterra Beaver Creek race on July 21.

The clinic will take place June 27 to July 1 in Eagle County.

“We have partnered with the Westin Riverfront Resort and The Bunkhouse in Minturn; you have an option of staying in the Bunkhouse hostel and getting to know other like-minded athletes,” Middaugh said. “We will also have special room rates at the Westin for those that would like to stay there. They offer luxury accommodations with a state of the art gym and outdoor salt water pool.”

To sign up, visit middaughcoaching.com/training-camps.