Local triathletes struggle in heat
TEMECULA, Calif. – Having a good set of lungs doesn’t always cut it when high-elevation triathletes kick off their season against a field of national and international pros who have a few months of warm-weather training on them.Josiah Middaugh, who finished third last year in the Nissan Xterra World Championship, finished seventh Sunday in the Xterra West Championship in Temecula, Calif., the first of this season’s Xterra Championship race series. “I was really expecting a podium finish out of it,” said Middaugh, who was the second American to finish, in 2 hours, 15 minutes and 51 seconds. “But for my first race, there were some good things and some bad things. I had a poor swim, so I had a lot of time to make up right off the bat.”The race began with a 1,500-meter swim around a lake, and was followed by a 30-kilometer mountain bike race up and down steep Jeep roads and an 11K trail run through a sandy wash.
The race yielded an all-Olympian men’s podium, with top finisher Conrad Stoltz (2:07:59), followed by Brent McMahon (2:08:59) and Oliver Marceau (2:10:53).Middaugh completed the swim in 23:25 minutes, the biking in 72:13 and the run in 40:13.”I felt like I got stronger throughout the race,” he said. “I was passing people, but not fast enough. It takes me a few races to get into race shape and pushing race intensity, especially living in the mountains. A lot of the people racing here spend a lot of time training and they’ve been racing year-round and training in warm weather. But the important part is August, September, October. I got seventh in my first race last year, too.”Middaugh will take on a half-Ironman next weekend in Northern California.”It’s all about recovery … or, lack of recovery,” he said.
Drowning dreadMaybe it just needs to be hot enough for Lisa Isom to overcome her fear of open water.The local racer wasn’t thrilled with her result in her first triathlon of the season Sunday, but she managed to avoid hyperventilating during the 1,500-meter swim around a lake that kicked off the race, which, in her world, is a big splash.Isom, who finished sixth overall last season in the Xterra pro point series, finished 14th Sunday with an overall time of 2:55:16.”It was hot,” Isom said of temperatures, which reached 96 degrees Sunday. “My run was about five minutes slower than how it should have been, but in the big picture, I’m not that fatigued. The competition has really come out, it looks like. Last year, I could have an average race and come in fifth. This year, I guess an average race puts me at 14th.”
Canadian Melanie McQuaid finished first of the women in 2:26:40 and was followed by Jamie Whitmore (2:27:53) and Renata Bucher (2:33:38). Summit County adventure racing superstar Danelle Ballengee took 10th in 2:49:17.”I definitely have some work to do,” said Isom, whose previous spring racing repertoire consisted of just one NORBA mountain bike race two weeks ago in Nathrop. She won the race, but was only one of four women to show up and competed in several inches of snow.”When we come from competing in snow to running in 90 degrees temperatures, it gets you,” she said. “I’m pretty bad in the swim. I’m afraid of the open water. It stems from the fact that I grew up in the Vail Valley and I’ve never been around a lake in my life. But, I definitely swam faster (Sunday) than I normally do.”Fellow local racer Toni Axelrod finished 28 of 91 in the amateur women category, sixth in her age group, and will be one of several locals competing in an Xterra point series next weekend in Moab, Utah.”At least this helped me get used to the temperatures a little bit,” Axelrod said. “I really had to switch gears. It was snowing when I left Vail. I went from 36 degrees to 96. We didn’t get any shade. It’s tough when you’ve been racing in snow and you’re used to running in the woods where it’s always cool.”Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.