Rough swim sets back Middaugh, finishes 8th at Xterra Worlds
EAGLE-VAIL — Hometown racer Josiah Middaugh has never been as strong in the swimming portion of off-road triathlon as the mountain biking and trail running disciplines.
Swimming off the coast of Maui Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Xterra World Championships, Middaugh found himself hit with waves so hard it ruined his chances of making up enough ground on the bike and run to recover into podium position.
“We had a set come in right as we started the swim, and I got tossed and lost the group in the beginning,” he said.
NEAR THE NORTH SHORE
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Xterra off-road triathlon events start with a swim, which is followed by a mountain biking section before finishing with a trail run. A collegiate runner who became a strong mountain biker after moving to Eagle County, Middaugh’s course to victory in Xterra races often involve him finishing a little behind on the swim, dominating the mountain biking portion and hanging on during the run. And victory does not elude him often in Xterra competitions. Middaugh won the World Championships in 2015 and achieved the overall tour win in the Pan American circuit of the Xterra series this year by winning races in Costa Rica, Alabama, Colorado, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
At the Beaver Creek course in Colorado he’s especially dominant, but the flat water of Nottingham Lake is a much easier swim than the rough waters of the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.
“It’s a pretty rough beach, because it’s getting close to the North Shore,” Middaugh said of the course, in reference to the world famous surfing area. “So it’s always choppy, and there’s always a shore break, no matter what the swell is.”
Nevertheless, the water was actually pretty calm this year, save that first devastating set of waves, Middaugh said. The rest of the course was in good condition, as well.
“The ocean wasn’t too big, and the course had dried out,” he said. “It was a pretty hot day, as well.”
Middaugh got on the bike about 3 minutes behind the leader, which was more than he could make up.
“I felt like I was at my best fitness of the year, but it just went wrong,” he said. “I just didn’t quite have enough push.”
Middaugh said the international field the Xterra World Championships is able to attract is the main reason the competition is always so fierce at that event.
Sunday’s winner on the men’s side, Bradley Weiss, hails from South Africa. Last year’s winner, Mauricio Mendez, of Mexico, finished second. Rounding out the podium was Ruben Ruzafa, of Spain, who won the event in 2013 and 2014.
On the women’s side, Flora Duffy, of Bermuda, won the event, followed by Barbara Riveros, of Chile, and Laura Philipp, of Germany.
For more information visit http://www.xterra planet.com.
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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.