Vanlandingham, Vines win titles in XTERRA Beaver Creek
Vail, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” It sure didn’t take long for Shonny Vanlandingham to make a name for herself in XTERRA. In her first year training exclusively for the series, she is dominating the women’s pro division.
On Saturday, Vanlandingham continued to her impressive run with a victory in the first XTERRA Beaver Creek triathlon. Mike Vines held off an elite field for the crown in the men’s pro division.
The winner’s circle is becoming familiar territory for Vanlandingham and it’s hardly beginner’s luck. The Durango resident has competed as a professional mountain biker since 1999. Now, with her full focus on training for XTERRA triathlons, Vanlandingham is finding success.
In June, Vanlandingham won the XTERRA Southeast Championship in Alabama for her first victory. Last week, she took home the title in California. Her win on Saturday came in 2 hours, 29 minutes and 58.5 seconds, more than five minutes ahead of three-time XTERRA world champion Melanie McQuaid.
“I raced in California last weekend and won that, but I would say the competition was a lot tougher here,” Vanlandingham said. “This win was a lot harder to earn, for sure.”
The key to Vanlandingham’s transformation from mountain biker to triathlete has been her work in the water. If she can stay relatively close to the leaders during the swimming portion of the race, her skill on the bike more than makes up for it. That held true on Saturday. McQuaid left the water first only to watch Vanlandingham blow past her on the 25-kilometer bike ride.
“When you don’t have a swimming background, it’s quite a challenge, and I don’t,” Vanlandingham said. “I’m having to spend a lot of time in the water and really work my technique. It’s so important.”
Vanlandingham will take her winning streak to the Ogden, Utah, next weekend to compete in the XTERRA Mountain Championships.
Vines finds his groove
Mike Vines doesn’t know how to work his cruise control. At least not when he’s racing.
On Saturday, Vines took a solid lead into the final 8K run and held off a pair of talented foes. Vines finished in 2:21:21.1, 57 seconds ahead of Brandon Rakita and 1:05 in front of Josiah Middaugh.
“(The win) is big for me,” Vines said. “I haven’t been having a very good year this year. It looks like things are starting to turn around.”
The race swung in Vines’ favor during the 25K biking portion. Reigning U.S. XTERRA champion Josiah Middaugh, and Brandon Rakita were right on Vines’ heels entering the first climb.
“I knew the hardest part of the race would be the first part of the ride,” Vines said. “Your blood is still flowing through your arms and your body has to adjust to using your legs more on the ride. There were some really steep hills on the first part of the bike. That was some suffering there.”
Rakita and Middaugh were left to battle for the No. 2 spot behind Vines. Middaugh ” a Vail resident ” gave Rakita a push, but he couldn’t overtake him during the final stretch.
Anderson excels in first triathlon
Sari Anderson is no stranger to elite-level competition, but Saturday’s XTERRA Beaver Creek was her first triathlon. Anderson ” who won the Winter XTERRA World Championship in March ” did well, finishing in fourth place in the women’s pro division.
“I am totally psyched,” Anderson said. “I was pretty far in the back on the swim, but I put my head down and rode and ran as fast as I possibly could. You know, I came out strong.”
A big assist should be given to Anderson’s 13-month-old daughter, Juniper.
“(Juniper’s) added a lot of weight on my training,” Anderson said. “I get to push her or tow her in the stroller all the time. When I race, it’s great because it feels really light.”
The first XTERRA Beaver Creek proved to be a big success. Nearly 200 athletes competed on a course designed by legendary adventure racer Mike Kloser and Middaugh. The pair wanted to make the course challenging, but enjoyable, for all the competitors. Kloser ” the race director ” hopes to make XTERRA Beaver Creek an annual event.
The first portion of the race was a 1.5K swim in Avon’s Nottingham Lake. The triathletes traded their wetsuits for their bikes, and a 25K ride along Arrowhead, Bachlor Gulch and Beaver Creek. The race ended with an 8K run that finished in Beaver Creek Village.
“I think the course was really nice,” Vanlandingham said. “They did a great job. For it being the first year having it here, it’s very well-organized. The volunteers were great.”
“I enjoyed it,” Vines added. “Any of these big, vertical courses are my favorite. Mainly, because I seem to do the best. But racing at altitude is a different feeling and I like it.”
Sports writer Ian Smith can be reach at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.