Vail’s Middaugh second at Xterra South Central
Vail, CO Colorado
WACO, Texas – South African Conrad Stoltz won his record-breaking 38th career Xterra championship, taking the South Central leg of the off-road triathlon series last weekend in Waco, Texas.
It took every ounce of energy he had to make it happen as just 15 seconds separated the top three men. Vail’s Josiah Middaugh was more than 3 minutes behind Stoltz at the bike-to-run transition, but made up all but 8 seconds by the finish line.
Middaugh, who won the first race of the season in Nevada last week, is tied with Stoltz with 190 points for the overall season lead.
“I looked behind me with about 1 kilometer to go and just saw these elbows and knees coming at me, and knew I had to kick into another gear so Josiah wouldn’t catch me,” said Stoltz.
Middaugh, however, had already put it into his highest gear as he was in a full sprint the last mile trying to chase Stoltz down, and simply couldn’t go any faster.
“I ran really, really hard on that run and when I caught Seth (Wealing) he stayed with me on the flats, and we picked up the pace together and closed in on Conrad. But I had already been sprinting when he turned around and saw me behind him, so there was no turbo button left to push to close the gap that last half-mile,” said Middaugh, who posted the fastest 5.5-mile run in 34 minutes, 50 seconds, more than a minute better than Wealing’s run split.
While Middaugh nearly won the race on the run, Stoltz did indeed win the race on the bike.-He crushed the technical 15-mile, limestone- and bamboo-covered course in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 59 seconds, nearly 3 minutes faster than the next best split.
At about mile 12 with Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” blasting in the woods where the crowd gathered at the Mix Master section of the bike Stoltz came flying down a skinny downhill forested trail called baseball at break-neck speed. —
Up until that point Stoltz was playing catch up.-He came out of the water in sixth place more than 1:30 behind the leaders Branden Rakita, Wealing, and Craig Evans who were riding strong.-
It took a while, but once Stoltz got in his groove at about the halfway point it was just like the song until he caught Seth too and moved into the lead.
“It wasn’t a perfect race for me, that’s for sure.-With this kind of technical stuff you really have to focus and ride smooth when the pressure is on and I had some hiccups today,” said Stoltz. “It was kinda funny at one point I had just passed Seth Wealing and I dropped my chain on an uphill and was running up the hill trying to put it back and Seth is heckling me from behind saying ‘what’s a matter old man, can’t climb this stuff anymore.'”
A win is a win, but this one was special for Stoltz as he eclipsed Jamie Whitmore’s long-standing mark of 37 career championshipvictories.-
Wealing was fast and in the mix from beginning to end to finish third, just 7 seconds behind Middaugh. Nicolas Lebrun was solid all day and nailed the run to pass Branden Rakita just before the finish line to place fourth for the second week in-a-row.-