Josiah Middaugh ready for XTERRA Beaver Creek triathlon on July 21
BEAVER CREEK — Local off-road triathlete Josiah Middaugh — cue the dramatic music — is turning 40 next week.
“I’m holding strong at 39,” he joked.
The — ahem — 39-year-old, nonetheless, will be gunning for his sixth straight victory at Xterra Beaver Creek on Saturday, July 21, when the gun goes off at 9 a.m. at Avon’s Nottingham Lake.
Middaugh and the competition will swim for a mile there, ride 26 kilometers (16.1 miles) up to Beaver Creek’s Centennial Lift and then run 10K (6.2 miles) finishing at the base of the lift.
Just another day at the office.
Utah and Hawaii on the horizon
Middaugh’s list of accomplishments in the sport are staggering. He won the world championship in Hawaii in 2015. He’s a 13-time national champion in off-road triathlons. He is the two-time defending Xterra Pan-Am champion and took the points title from 2013-15 under the sport’s old format.
With all this on his record, Middaugh’s still finding motivation. In addition to continuing his success at Xterra Beaver Creek, he’s looking at the two brass rings at the end of the season, the Xterra Pan American Championship in Ogden, Utah, in September, and the Xterra World Championship in Hawaii in October.
“Ultimately, my goal is to try to have a shot in every race I do,” he said. “The last two races of the season are my mindset the Pan-American in Utah and the world championships in Hawaii.”
And to that end, Xterra Beaver Creek is a kickoff to that stretch with altitude higher than the Utah race and similar changes in elevation to both the Utah and Hawaii competitions.
Middaugh enters Saturday’s race in fourth place in the Pan-Am standings behind New Zealand’s Kieran McPherson, Canada’s Karsten Madsen and fellow Coloradan Branden Rakita. With an expanded schedule for the series including more stops in South America and more athletes competing in multiple events on the tour, Middaugh is a long shot to repeat as the series’ champion. He missed four of the first five races on tour — Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil — because he and his better half, Ingrid, are raising the next generation of Middaughs — Sullivan, Porter and Larsen.
Middaugh picked up wins in Pelham, Alabama, and in the Dominican Republic before finishing second two weeks ago in Victoria, British Columbia. There, Middaugh had the lead in the running leg of the race, only to lose it to McPherson.
“Every race I don’t win, I learn a lot,” he said. “It keeps me motivated and keeps me energized in training.”
While McPherson is the Pan-Am points leader, Middaugh sees Mexico’s Mauricio Mendez as one of his chief rivals on Saturday. All of 22, Mendez won the worlds in 2016 as a 20-year-old. The Mexican, who finished second to Middaugh at this race last year, is the best swimmer in the field on Saturday, and can hammer the running leg.
Meanwhile, as usual Middaugh, will try to stay within 1-2 minutes of the lead in the swim before trying to exert his dominance during the biking leg.
Josiah isn’t the only Middaugh defending a title this weekend. Sullivan, then 13, won the sprint version, a shorter course, of the Xterra Beaver Creek last summer. Both Sullivan and Porter are carrying the family name this year in the sprint.
Their training is not as severe as Dad’s.
“We’re not really focused on expectation,” Middaugh joked. “But they’re both really excited about it.”
Middaugh will also be keeping tabs on his pupils of Middaugh Coaching, including Julie Baker, who won the women’s race in Victoria, and Brian Smith, of Gunnison, who could be a top five contender on Saturday.