Three-time XTERRA World Champion Julie Dibens will make her return to triathlon at the XTERRA Mountain Championship at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colorado on Saturday.
It’ll be Dibens first triathlon since 2011, when she was leading off the bike at the Hawaii Ironman Worlds in Kona before having to pull due to injury. Since that day the resilient Brit (who lives in nearby Boulder, CO) has undergone foot and knee surgeries and spent a remarkable amount of time rehabilitating.
“I’m not 100% by any means, and this is definitely a ‘test the waters’ kind of thing, and mentally something that I want to do for me,” said Dibens. “I’m not run “training” but I’m running, and this is huge for me! I have no expectations, just pumped to feel able to race again and woke up this morning feeling like a kid the week leading up to Christmas.”
Dibens first raced XTERRA in 2006, finishing 2nd at XTERRA France and won XTERRA Denmark that season. In 2007 she won XTERRA Guam, was second in Saipan, won XTERRA UK and then captured her first of three consecutive XTERRA World Championships in Maui.
When asked why she chose this race to get back in the mix, Dibens replied, “Pretty simple really. I used XTERRA to kick start the 2nd phase of my triathlon career back in 2007 as I switched from ITU to other triathlon events. Even though I have never considered myself a true XTERRA athlete, XTERRA gave me the confidence to go out there and try new things, and was a big part in shaping the athlete I am today. After a rough few years on the sidelines I think it’s a great way to hopefully kick start the 3rd phase of my career as an athlete. I have no idea what this athlete will look like, but I’m excited to get back on the startline and see what lies ahead.”
If Dibens 3.0 looks anything like 2.0, the triathlon world is in for a treat. In the stretch from 2007 to 2011 Dibens was a force in every distance with big wins at XTERRA, Ironman 70.3 (2009 World Champ), Lifetime Fitness, 5430 Long Course, Abu Dhabi, Wildflower, Rev3, and then in her first try at Kona in 2010 she knocked out the fastest bike split of the day (4:55:28) and finished third.
As for her expectations on Saturday, Dibens said “just to finish with two knees intact and a smile on my face.”
Diben’s joins an all-star cast of elite XTERRA specialists on Saturday at the XTERRA Mountain Championship that includes last year’s winner, Canadian Danelle Kabush, three-time Mtn Champ Shonny Vanlandingham, reigning XTERRA National Champ Suzie Snyder, and some really fast mountain bike specialists like Brandi Heisterman, and Kelley Cullen.
A look at the complete start list
Rank – Women – Age, Hometown
2 – Shonny Vanlandingham – 44, Durango, Colorado
4 – Suzie Snyder – 31, Fredericksburg, Virginia
5 – Brandi Heisterman – 37, Squamish, B.C., Canada
6 – Danelle Kabush – 37, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
8 – Caroline Colonna – 48, Taos, New Mexico
9 – Emma Garrard – 30, Park City, Utah
11 – Kelley Cullen – 32, New Castle, Colorado
12 – Jaime Brede – 36, Breckenridge, Colorado
14 – Tamara Donelson – 37, Edwards, Colorado
NR – Julie Dibens – 38, Boulder, Colorado
NR – Flora Duffy – 25, Boulder, Colorado
NR - Tammy Jacques – 46, Steamboat Springs, Colo.
NR – Jari Kirkland – 37, Crested Butte, Colorado
NR – Heidi Rentz – 29, Moab, Utah
In the men’s race hometown hero Josiah Middaugh, who lives just down the road from the course in Vail, CO (which he helped design) is the favorite, but every man in the top 10 of the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series is on the start list.
Dan Hugo from South Africa, winner of the East Championship last month, and Colorado-based Ironman specialist Ben Hoffman are expected to give Middaugh all he can handle.
XTERRA Mountain Championship Elite Men
Rank – Men – Age, Hometown
1 – Craig Evans – 35, Hendersonville, Tennessee
2 – Josiah Middaugh – 33, Vail, Colorado
3 – Branden Rakita – 32, Colorado Springs, Colorado
4 – Dan Hugo – 27, Stellenbosch, South Africa
5 – Nick Fisher – 27, Ogden, Utah
6 – Will Kelsay – 31, Boulder, Colorado
7 – Ryan Ignatz – 34, Boulder, Colorado
8 – Bradley Weiss – 24, Cape Town, South Africa
9 – Matt Mangen – 30, Ivins, Utah
10 – Andy Lee – 41, Lakeway, Texas
11 – Jason Michalak – 35, Lakewood, Colorado
13 – Cody Waite – 34, Lakewood, Colorado
17 – Chris Ganter – 34, Boise, Idaho
21 – Will Ross – 23, Anchorage, Alaska
23 – Brad Zoller – 35, Palatine, Illinois
NR – Tom Goth – 28, Salt Lake City, Utah
NR – Ben Hoffman – 29, Boulder, Colorado
NR – Kyle Leto – 25, Walnut Creek, California
NR – Joshua Merrick – 31, Alamosa, Colorado
NR – Patrick Valentine – 27, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Note: Rank indicates their position in XTERRA U.S. Pro Series standings (after 3), NR = not ranked.
Follow the race with live updates starting at 9am MST on twitter @xterraoffroad (hashtag #xterrabeavercreek) and on facebook/xterraplanet.