Vanlandingham, Lebrun triumph at Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – Given how warm it was during Saturday’s Xterra Mountain Cup Triathlon, racers probably wouldn’t have minded having the one-mile swim at the end of the race as opposed to the beginning.
But in the end, the winners cooled themselves off with a champagne bath.
Durango’s Shonny Vanlandingham made it back-to-back wins at Beaver Creek in the women’s pro category, while France’s Nico LeBrun edged out last year’s winner, Canada’s Mike Vine. Local Jose Middaugh finished third for the second-straight year.
Vanlandingham finished a one-mile swim, a 15.5-mile mountain bike ride and a 5.5-mile run in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 14.2 seconds. She finished 6 minutes ahead of Canada’s Danelle Kabush (2:36:10.6), while Boulder’s Sara Tarkington was third in 2:36:32.4.
“I’m from Colorado, so this is a target race for me,” Vanlandingham said. “I like the mountains. It’s got lots of climbing. It’s definitely one of my favorite course.”
In just her second year of competing in Xterra events, Vanlandingham seems to be making herself feel at home everywhere. With her roots in mountain biking – she is an accomplished NORBA (National Off-Road Bicycle Association) racer, she was ranked No. 2 in the overall Xterra standings coming into Saturday’s race.
Tarkington actually built up a 55-second lead over Vanlandingham in the swim in Nottingham Lake, but the defending champ quickly erased that in the mountain-biking portion. Vanlandingham’s biking split was a sizzling 1:24.37 , which was a full 7 minutes ahead of Kabush’s time.
Vanlandingham shook off Tarkington in the run, topping her by nearly 3 minutes there.
“It was a a fun downhill finish, so you can really let it rip to the finish,” Vanlandingham said of the last part of the running course. “So, it was a fun way to end it.”
At home in the mountains
LeBrun grew up in Digne-les-Baines in the French Alps, so he welcomed the opportunity to race at altitude. The win was even sweeter after going 0-for-4 at Keystone, which held the Xterra Mountain Cup before the event moved over the pass.
“It’s very nice. I grew up in the Alps, so I really like the mountains,” LeBrun said. “To win a race like this is really good for me. I never won at Keystone. I tried four times, so it was really good for me to come here and win.”
LeBrun finished in 2:30:14.2, followed by Vine (2:16:29.1) and Middaugh (2:17:42.2).
Vine was hoping to repeat his win of last year, but the altitude got to him.
“I had a tough time with the altitude this time,” he said. “I just came up from sea level. I usually do well with that, but I had a bit of a lung hack this weekend. I swam well. On the bike, I wasn’t quite going up the hills like I Nico was. On the run, I really suffered a lot. Those uphills were really hard.”
That said, Vine added, “Nico really clobbered us on the bike today. It’s always discouraging when you get blown by like that.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.