Sullivan Middaugh qualifies for World Triathlon Junior Championships
Sullivan and his dad, Josiah, are racing in Alabama this weekend
Sullivan Middaugh has accomplished a major season goal in his first year with Project Podium, USA Triathlon’s men’s elite development program based at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. The 2022 Battle Mountain graduate and winner of the 2022 XTERRA U.S. championship at Beaver Creek last summer placed seventh at the 2023 Americas Junior Qualification Event Punta Cana on May 13 in the Dominican Republic.
“I had one my best swims ever, latching on to the tail end of the main front group. I took many risks on the bike and broke away near the end,” Middaugh posted on social media this week. “The hard bike and hot temperatures made the run challenging but I was able to finish seventh and qualify for junior worlds this summer in Germany.”
Middaugh blasted the bike leg — completing 20 kilometers in 25 minutes, 20 seconds. He was 30 seconds faster than the next best athlete — and ran 15:19 in the 5-kilometer run leg to finish in 51:19 as the third -best American. His bike effort split up the front pack and created a strong breakaway. Canadian Mathis Beaulieu took the overall win in 49:48. Middaugh will join Carter Stuhlmacher and Luke Anthony in Hamburg, Germany, July 13-16 for the World Triathlon (formerly known as the International Triathlon Union) sprint and relay championships.
This weekend, Middaugh will shift his focus to the off-road scene for the first-ever XTERRA World Cup on American soil at Oak Mountain in Pelham, Alabama.
“The World Cup is going to be awesome. It’s going to be World Championship level every single race so it’ll be awesome to just have a ton of competition,” he told XterraPlanet.com’s Sarah Bonner.
Support Local Journalism
“I’m very young so I can use that to my advantage and use these races as learning experiences for later on. I’m not going into it with a ton of pressure and I know that I can just take each race and learn and put it into the next one.”
His dad, Josiah, a 15-time U.S. XTERRA champion who finished second to Sullivan in Beaver Creek, decided to stick around in the sport partially to participate in the inaugural World Cup circuit, which will include seven stops in six countries and a $340,000 prize purse.
“It reminds me of when I first started racing XTERRA. There was a lot of momentum behind XTERRA. It was only a U.S. series, but the start list read like a World Championship,” he told Bonner.
“There was always a handful of Olympians in the race and there were international athletes from all over the world, every continent and at every race. It’s pretty amazing that it’s kind of finally come to fruition. It’s great to feel like it’s come full circle and be back to that super high level of competition at every race.”
Racing against his son is another motivation.
“I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity to race the XTERRA World Cup and it just happens that Sullivan’s at the age where he’s able to participate. I’m not sure that I would be doing it if it wasn’t for Sullivan,” he continued. “The World Cup and the opportunity to race with Sullivan has rekindled my passion for the sport.”
Five of the World Cup stops, including Oak Mountain, will feature long-course races on the first day and a short-course on the second. On August 26, stop No. 6 will bring the circuit to Beaver Creek, where $25,000 — and a U.S. title — will be up for grabs.
France’s Arthur Serrieres, the defending XTERRA World Champion, will toe the line for his first race on U.S. soil outside of Maui, the host of XTERRA’s world championships for its first 25 years.
“I am looking forward to seeing what the US team makes for us in Oak Mountain,” the 28-year-old stated.
Josiah Middaugh has won five events at the Oak Mountain venue.
“This is a unique venue with a little bit of everything,” he told XTERRA. “The trail system is second to none and will require a well-rounded mountain biker to do well. There is also a lot that can go wrong so expect the unexpected.”
Avon’s Suzie Snyder is one of the top women in the field and has won at Oak Mountain three times herself.
“It’s going to take a strong swim to be in the front pack and get onto the trails in the lead group, then a clean, strong mountain bike ride, and a fast run,” she told XTERRA.
Saturday’s full course begins at 6 a.m. MST. A livestream of Sunday’s short track race begins at 1 p.m. MST on XterraPlanet.com.