Middaugh takes Davos mark below 16 minutes
Josiah sets new record
Josiah Middaugh made it look easy.
The Davos Dash, essentially a 3-mile straight-up climb in West Vail, is anything but easy, but the local triathlete stamped his name on the course with an emphatic performance Wednesday.
In the oldest annually held mountain-bike race in the state held on the same course since its inception, Middaugh finished the 3.1-mile climb in a staggeringly fast time of 15 minutes, 57 seconds, 48 seconds ahead of the old record set by Jay Henry back in 2009.
“I kind of set my sights on it a few weeks ago,” said Middaugh, 42. “There’s not a whole lot to focus on these days. That record has been dangling out there. I’ve been close a couple of times. I thought I could do it. I’m not getting any younger, so I didn’t want to put it off for another year.”
Like a lot of people, Middaugh has seen his world spin off its axis a bit with COVID-19. The Xterra Pan-Am off-road triathlon series didn’t happen in 2020 for obvious reasons. Without the triathlons, his focus this season has been on fitness and getting outdoors.
The change in his triathlon schedule gave Middaugh a chance to go at Henry’s record. Normally, Middaugh would be gearing up for Xterra Nationals in Ogden, Utah, in a weekend or two. Had Davos been in this spot in the calendar in a “normal” year, it would have been a glorified workout for Middaugh, if he participated.
In 2020, Middaugh made it a goal. He said he had a few Davos-specific workouts in the weeks leading up to Wednesday. Unlike when he usually competes at Davos — usually in June or July — he took some rest days before the race.
“It was, by no means, easy,” Middaugh said. “The record by Jay Henry stood for a long time. He used to destroy me in these races. I looked up to him and aspired to be like him on the bike.”
And Henry was in the field on Wednesday night, and the two talked after the race. Middaugh came into the race having time checks for some intervals early in the climb. He knew he was doing well early, but that last climb, which stymies all, is tough even for the elite.
“Those last six minutes, I didn’t know,” he said. “If you let off the gas at any moment you can lose a minute.”
Middaugh didn’t and he has the new mark. It’s worth noting that even for pros, the Davos Dash is still a gut-check.
“The one thing I would say is that hurts just as bad no matter how fast or how slow you’re going,” Middaugh said.
As competitions slowly restart, Middaugh’s upcoming adventure is the Pikes Peak Apex, a four-day stage race next week in Colorado Springs. In the meantime, Lisa Isom’s record for the ladies, set in 2005 with a time of 20:20, stands for another year.
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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.