Eagle County men win XTERRA amateur age-group titles at world cup event | VailDaily.com

Eagle County men win XTERRA amateur age-group titles at world cup event

Seven Eagle County athletes competed in the two-day event in preparation for USA championships at Beaver Creek this August

Mike Dorr, one of seven Eagle County athletes competing at the Oak Mountain XTERRA event last weekend, took home age-group titles in the long-course and half-marathon trail events.
Jesse Peters/Courtesy photo

Not only was Eagle County well-represented at the XTERRA Oak Mountain event May 20-21 in Pelham, Alabama — they were fast. In addition to Josiah and Sullivan Middaugh’s fourth and ninth-place respective finishes and Suzie Snyder’s fifth in the elite long-course competition, three Eagle County XTERRA amateurs claimed age-group titles.

Mike Dorr (45-49), James Kirschner (30-34) and Karl Edgerton (60-64) each won their respective divisions in Saturday’s long-course race. Because they finished in the top-six out of all amateurs competing, Dorr — who would add another age-group title in Sunday’s half-marathon trail run — and Kirschner were invited to race in Sunday’s 25-member elite short-track race as well.

“When I got that opportunity, that was awesome. I couldn’t pass that down,” said Dorr, who had registered for the trail run before the weekend since he knew his partner, Snyder, would be competing that day anyway.

“The bonus was the short-track — so, like, I didn’t care (that I was doing both that day),” he said. “I was just like, I’m going to go have fun, do what I can and see what happens.”

Kirschner completed the 1.5-kilometer swim, 33-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run in 2 hours, 49 minutes and 52 seconds, finishing 20th overall, including elites and third amongst amateurs. Dorr was right on his heels, coming through in 21st in 2:50:16. The 48-year-old said after an “on-par” swim, he found his groove going up the only major dirt road climb on the bike course, where he split a 1:38:42.

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“It was a little squirrly the first four miles, but I kind of just got my rhythm there and really pulled away from some other guys,” he said. The multi-time USA triathlon off-road athlete of the year winner and 2021 XTERRA 45-49 age-group world champion found himself alone from mile 13 of the bike until the first mile or so of his run. He knew he was having a good day when he passed a competitor he’s gone back and forth with over the past few seasons with about 1.5 miles remaining.

Eagle County XTERRA amateurs results – Oak Mountain (May 20-21)

Mike Dorr

Long-course (May 20) – 2:50:16, 21st overall, first in 45-49 age group

Short-course (May 21) – LAP

Half-marathon (May 21) – 1:45:26, eighth overall, first in 45-49 age group

Karl Edgerton

Long-course (May 20) – 3:29:30 56th overall, first in 60-64 age group

Mike Stepanek

Long-course (May 20) – 4:20:36, 114th overall, seventh in 60-64 age group

James Kirschner

Long-course (May 20) – 2:49:52, 20th overall, first in 30-34 age-group

Short-course (May 21) – DNC

“I had a really good run,” he said, noting the latter two phases are typically his strengths, with the final leg’s proficiency often determined by his fueling efficiency during the penultimate one.

Not surprisingly, Edgerton — one of the Off Piste Aquatics regulars who swam across San Francisco Bay last summer in the 29th annual Sharkfest Swim — was one of the first amateurs out of the water. Though he swims three-to-four days per week all-year, he doesn’t bike for the duration of his Nordic ski season, and coming into the event, he was a little nervous about his cycling fitness.

“I was relying on my Nordic skiing and swim fitness,” stated Edgerton — who spent a week this March in Norway on a Lumi Experience trip, racing the Birkenbeinerennet and taking in the famous Holmenkollen ski festival.

“I actually felt good.”

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After a satisfying swim leg, the 2022 XTERRA Worlds finisher completed his bike leg in just over two hours. During the run, he was clueless as to his location relative to the competition.

“You just have to assume the person behind you is in your age group,” he said. “I knew I had to run hard for an hour. Just put myself mentally in that dark space … just keep moving.” As fate would have it, Edgerton’s run split was exactly one hour.

“I didn’t have another mile in me when I finished.”   

Kirschner elected not to race in Sunday’s “made-for-TV” short-track event. Dorr and two other athletes were eventually pulled at the end of the bike leg as the leaders, entering the run, overlapped the course.

“Which was fine, I was super happy to do it,” Dorr said. “It’s some really cool racing. I was hoping that they’d try to get amateurs involved. I think it would be pretty cool to see the top amateurs get a taste for that.”

Dorr wound up eighth overall and first for his age group in the half-marathon, running 1:45:26 to qualify for the XTERRA Trail Run world championships as well.

His main focus will be the Beaver Creek XTERRA long-course USA Championship on Aug. 26 and the long-course world championships on Sept. 23 in Trentino, Italy. He plans on building his fitness at the Vail Recreation District Town Series, Bighorn Gravel, and the Emerald Epic and Firecracker 50 mountain bike races. He and Snyder are also going to race in the 100k Little Sugar and 100-mile Big Sugar mountain bike and gravel events in Bentonville, Arkansas, the self-proclaimed “Mountain Bike Capital of the World” at the end of the season.

“Neither one of us have been there, so we’re going to go for about 10 days and just enjoy the area,” said Dorr, who is also set to race the 2024 Boston Marathon next April.

Edgerton, who traveled Puerto Rico with Rife Hilgartner for an XTERRA event this April — and won his age group there, too — is excited for the extra month of high-country training before Beaver Creek (which took place in July last season) and intends to return to Italy in September as well.

“Prepare, do my best and be safe,” he answered when asked what his goals were.

“At the same time, I’m out to win.” 

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