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Large local turnout at Xterra Championship

Andrew Harley

As many of us in the valley have spent our summers training in a relatively lackadaisical manner for the months of winter sports which lie ahead so that we can increase the strength of our turns, make our cuts more dynamic and simply last longer on the mountain, there has been a small group of locals who have been training hard for this fall.

The 2003 Xterra USA Championship for the triathlon hits Lake Tahoe, Nev., Sept. 28 along with a group of at least nine locals.

Of the grand total of 90 people who were invited from around the nation, Peter Dann, Lisa Isom, Kevin Deighan, Adam Lueck, Douglas Alrick, Jared Dinecki, Darren Lacy, Susan Bird and Josiah Middaugh are all expected to compete in various age groups and competitive levels for a chance to win the title of national champion.

Fish, beasts of the field, cyborgs

A triathlon calls for competition in three athletic disciplines – swimming, running and biking.

Many forms of the triathlon exist. Two major categories separate between road biking and mountain biking.

Also, there’s the distance thing. The USA Championship distance requires 1.5 kilometers of swimming, 32 kilometers of biking and 10 kilometers of running (in the Xterra USA Championship it’s trail running).

“To compete in an event like this, it helps to have an athletic background. Other than that, it takes commitment to a training program and the drive necessary to achieve your goals,” said Middaugh, who was last year’s national amateur champion. “I’ve built up a big training base over the course of the year. I have a lot of volume, a lot of miles on the bike, a lot of miles running and in the pool.

“This year, the key for my training has been interval workouts on the track and climbing in intervals on the bike. I’ve been able to break down my training, and make it more specific this year.”

And, the competition at an event like this is as stiff as it gets.

“This year, I’m going back with the goal of placing in the top three,” said Bird, who lives in Vail. “I have a lot of very close competition, though.

“Barbara Peterson is always ranked well. She used to be a professional mountain biker. So, her mountain-biking times are phenomenal. I figure that my mountain-biking time has to be in the top 10 among the pros to compete with her. My swimming and running are both strong.”

Local accolades

Not only is Vail well-represented at this year’s national championship, the local athletes competing are all ranked highly in the points for the Xterra series.

Isom ranks first in the Mountain division – which encompasses Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming – out of 23 triathletes. Isom competes in the 30-34 year-old women’s division.

Deighan ranks second in the Mountain division out of 24 people. Dieghan competes in the 40-44 year-old men’s division.

Dann ranks first among 11 45-49 year-old men.

Bird, who has been a competitive triathlete since 1996, ranks first among five 45-49 year-old women in the Mountain division. Also, Bird is ranked third in the nation in her age group.

“I started at the local triathlon series in Avon and Aspen, and won overall,” said Bird. “Prior to that, I ran marathons and other running races. In 2001, I competed in my first, full “Iron Man’ triathlon, which is a 2.5-mile, open-water swim, a 112-mile bike ride and marathon-distance run. I placed second there.

“After doing that, I decided I could do this. I really enjoyed trail running, and I figured I could pick up mountain biking. And, in 2003, I ended up fourth in worlds – three seconds away from third.”

Middaugh ranks eighth among all male pro-elite triathletes in the United States.

“I won the amateurs last year, and was 14th overall, so I moved up to the pro-elite division,” said Middaugh. “This year, I’m gunning for the top 10, but I’d realistically like to place sixth or seventh.

“This series is fun. It’s more exciting than road triathlons. The venues are always better. There’s intense competition, but the races don’t last that long. The leaders will come in between two and two-and-a-half hours, so it’s not too long of a distance to stay focused for.”

For more information on the 2003 Xterra USA Championship visit http://www.xterraplanet.com.

Andrew Harley can be contacted at (970) 949-0555 ext. 608 or at aharley@vaildaily.com.


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