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Middaugh, Snyder win XTERRA Oak Mountain

Author : Press Release

Reigning XTERRA Pan America Tour Champions Josiah Middaugh and Suzie Snyder successfully defended their titles at the 12th annual XTERRA Oak Mountain Championship race on a sweltering hot day in Pelham, Alabama.

Middaugh (Eagle-Vail, Colorado) has now won four of the last five races at Oak Mountain State Park and this is his second win of the season.  He won XTERRA Costa Rica last month.  For Snyder (Reno, Nevada) the win is her second straight in Alabama and third this season.  She also won XTERRA Argentina and Costa Rica earlier this year.

More than 350 triathletes from 12 countries and 42 U.S. states traveled to Shelby County for the race, which was the fifth of 10 events on the XTERRA Pan America Tour and the first of three majors on the XTERRA America Tour.  It combined a one-mile swim in the 77-degrees waters of Double Oak Lake with 20-miles of perfect single-track mountain biking and six-miles of twisting, rolling, tree-lined trail running.

Middaugh The Master

Entering his 17th season of racing XTERRA, and his 12th year racing here in Alabama, Middaugh mixed an un-matched level of experience with unbelievable speed to take the win in 2:25:23.

The 2015 XTERRA World Champion was eighth out of the water, a full two-minutes behind the lead group of Ian King (USA), Karsten Madsen (CAN), Veit Hoenle (GER), Branden Rakita (USA), Francisco Serrano (MEX), and Jean-Philippe Thibodeau (CAN), and he trailed Kieran McPherson (NZL) by roughly 30-seconds.  By the time he got to the climb only two of those men were still ahead of him.

"I knew it was going to be a tough day, and it was even harder than I expected," said Middaugh.  "I knew Francisco and Karsten were off the front early, and they were a long way out front. I just kept digging all day trying to catch up."

Middaugh posted the fastest bike split in 1:26:00, nearly two minutes faster than the next best time posted by Madsen, but still didn't reel in either Madsen or Serrano by the bike-to-run transition.

"I finally got close to Karsten and Francisco the last four or five miles of the bike but they were riding so well I couldn't make up any time technically. I just had to dig really deep to make up time on the pedaling sections. I got in contact coming off the bike and the race was on."

Serrano took the lead out of the bike-to-run transition, followed roughly 10-seconds later by Madsen and another 10-seconds by Middaugh.

"Josiah caught me on the run about a mile into it," said Serrano.  "He was running so fast and on my best days I feel I can run with him.  I thought today was going to be one of those days. I was feeling good on the bike and I was feeling a lot of power.  I was not so fast on the technical parts, they'd always bridge the gaps there but every time I would hit a hill I would pull away. I thought I might have the legs for the run today, but I didn't.  My energy levels were toasted."

As Middaugh pulled away on the run the chase behind him for second was on.

"I thought I might be able to hold on for second-place but Karsten was just right on my heels the whole time, and I was running on fumes," said Serrano.

For Madsen, who finished third last year at this race and crashed-out two years ago, it was a rewarding runner-up performance.

"I bled everything I had into this race today," said Madsen. "I'm runner-up, but to the classiest guy in the sport, and I gave everything I could and that's all that matters. I've wanted it here so badly for so long. You always wonder when its going to be your time and I just missed it by a bit with Josiah today but I gave literally everything I possibly could and that is just so satisfying."    
    
Brian Smith, one of many Coloradoans who is coached by Middaugh, outran his mentor by three seconds to post the fastest 10K of the day in 36:43 and finish in 4th place.  Branden Rakita, who was solid all day, rounded out the top five.
    
Snyder Dominates

For the second straight year at this race Suzie Snyder led from wire-to-wire. Today she posted the fastest elite swim, bike, and run times to take the tape in 2:45:29, more than six-minutes ahead of two-time XTERRA World Champ Lesley Paterson.

"This win gives me a lot of confidence," said Snyder.  "I had the wins in Argentina and Costa Rica but the depth of the field wasn't like today, so I was left wondering if I was really going that good or not. So, this is a bit of validation that indeed I am going well, and I feel really good about the future at this point. It's big a confidence booster."

Julie Baker, who upset Snyder last year at XTERRA Beaver Creek, was close out of the water but the gap Snyder put on Baker and the rest of the field simply grew throughout the day.

"Julie Baker was right behind me out of the water but I pulled away early, and I didn't get any time checks out there so I had no idea where anyone was," said Snyder.  "I was all over the place on the bike. I was washing out around every corner so I slowed down because I didn't want to bake myself.  It was a head game, like "I'm going so slow I think I am losing so much time," so on the run I just ran for my life. I thought for sure Lesley would be hot on my heads so I definitely came out too fast cause the second lap was brutal. But I just kept thinking about Maui and pushing all the way through, so I could get stronger for those races and not just the win today."

For Paterson, who has a million-and-one things going on in her life from coaching, to promoting her book, to marketing and movies, there were no excuses.

"That's what my mantra is all about. It doesn't matter where you're at, just go for it," said Paterson, who had the word "attitude" written on one arm and "gratitude" written on another. "I'm super impressed with Suzie, she's going great and is really strong. I'm pleased for her because she's not only a nice person but she's worked really hard for it and she deserves it."

Baker, who rode the whole last half of the bike right behind Paterson, finished in third.  After the race, she half-jokingly said "after that run, I have no idea why I do this."

Baker was referring to the relentless heat and humidity that zapped the strength of every competitor out on the course.

Snyder explained that a lot of what makes the run so hard is the bike. "Well, it's definitely the heat but it's also the nature of the bike course being so twisty and turny.  You're constantly accelerating and decelerating so it takes a lot of power out of your legs."

Middaugh, the men's winner, added that the dehydration factor is also a result of the challenging bike course.  "It's such a hard course to drink on," he said.  "I got through mile 10 and had gone through maybe half a water bottle, and then there's almost nowhere to drink the rest of the course. I had a little bit of Gel and a little bit of water but pretty much no drinking through the last 8 miles so I think that caught up to all of us on the run."

Maia Ignatz handled the day seamlessly and put in a great run, the third-best split behind only Snyder and Paterson, to finish in fourth while Liz Gruber, a fellow Coloradoan, placed fifth.

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