Vail Teva Games: Mountain challenge halfway through | VailDaily.com

Vail Teva Games: Mountain challenge halfway through

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
TMG mountain bike race 1 JF 6/6/09
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VAIL – After a 3-mile downstream kayak sprint and a 22-mile mountain bike race, Josiah Middaugh is only halfway done.

“I feel like my lungs are bleeding,” he said with a grim smile at the finish line of Saturday’s cross-country mountain bike race.

Middaugh is looking to defend his title as the champion of the Teva Mountain Games mountain challenge, a four-event race over two days that involves kayaking, mountain biking, trail running and road biking. Some are doing the race in teams of four. Others, like Middaugh, are racing individually.

“I’m in it to win overall, but I want to be competitive in the individual events, too,” said the Vail Valley local. “I knew I’d have to go out pretty hard (in the mountain bike race). Once it calmed down, I felt better and picked off a couple people.”

Middaugh finished 12th in a very fast pro men’s field. The race was won by Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, followed by Todd Wells, who was racing the Ultimate Mountain Challenge with team Better Late Than Never.

“It was a fun course and a quality field,” Wells said. “I was feeling pretty good on the downhill, but on the last climb, I knew it was over.”

Eagle resident Jay Henry, riding for Team Dan with several Beaver Creek-sponsored athletes, said the race was as tough as any national race.

“It was just so fast-paced,” he said. “You had to fight and scratch for every advantage out there. Of the best riders, nobody was missing today.”

Some of the Ultimate Challenge teams are stocked with professional competitors, such as Team Bear Naked, who had national mountain bike champion Adam Craig racing the mountain bike portion of the race. Craig came in fourth, rounding out a thus far successful run for the team. Earlier Saturday morning, Craig’s teammate, professional kayaker Brad Ludden, had also taken fourth in the kayak sprint.

“It’s been fun, it’s ideal weather, and hey, we might be winning,” Craig said.

The challenge allows competitors to check out other sports they may not have tried, too, said mountain biker Kathy Sherwin, who rode the mountain bike race for the Teva Women’s Team.

“I was checking out kayaks this morning,” she laughed, adding that the Teva Games experience has gotten better each year. “I have so much fun at this, and I’m definitely coming back.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.