Dan Hugo and Flora Duffy captured the USA Triathlon Off-Road National Championship held in conjunction with the 16th annual XTERRA East Championship on the James River Park System trails in downtown Richmond, Virginia today.
It’s Hugo’s second win in as many years and sixth major XTERRA title this season. His winning time of 2:17:57 was less than a minute ahead of 7x World Champion and 7x Richmond winner Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz. Hugo passed Stoltz in the last mile of the run to win the race.
“A fight to remember,” explained Hugo. “Everyone knows the story. I reckon this course suits Conrad down to the ground, but I can promise you he wasn’t at his best today yet he still had such magic. He pushed me to my limits not just physically but emotionally.”
Stoltz simply crushed the bike course today, as he’s done so many times before on these trails. He posted the fastest bike split by more than a minute, putting on a show for all to see both here in Richmond and around the world thanks to the live feed provided by Luck Stone.
“I was really happy to have a semi-descent race. When I finished my warm-up after the swim I told Liezel (his wife) I felt terrible but when I got on the bike I felt alright. Then on the run I was ecstatic because I was feeling pretty good and I ran solid until about 8K when I started to crumble,” said Stoltz. “When we got to Belle Isle I was flat and Dan came around and he was too fast. I tried to hang on and then I did a cartwheel running. It would’ve been cool to win but I’m just really happy to be back. This week has been terrible and even the training before that hasn’t been good at all so I’m stoked to be back in Richmond. This race is just absolutely phenomenal. The swim course, it’s the most technical, adventurous swim you’ll ever experience. It’s up-current, down-current, side-current, its shallow, its deep, its got running, lots of sighting. Making the top buoy is really tough and you had to know what you’re doing. Super adventure. And of course, the bike is just phenomenal. Fun all the way. I went sideways across the bridge and crashed. My wheels were pointing one way, handlebars another and brakes were in the air. Even the run is interesting and fun.”
Stoltz father Gert passed away in 2012 and Scott “Scud” Scudamore – a long-time XTERRA Ambassador and dear friend to many in this sport and beyond, passed in December. The XTERRA race numbers had “Scud” in the background in his honor, and his wife Margaret fired the cannon to get all the action underway. Clearly, those two men will never be forgotten.
The race’s other notable favorite – Josiah Middaugh – who hadn’t lost a regional championship race since 2012, came out of the water 1:30 behind the leaders and couldn’t get close enough coming off the bike to make up the difference with his superior run.
“I had an amazing first half of the swim but then on the second half I had to swim upstream to a buoy and lost a bunch of time. Then on the bike I was bobbling all over the place the first lap,” said Middaugh, who was the fastest Dad of the day. “I had better rhythm second lap but still thought I could do better. I was struggling out there. This run course is too flat for making up a lot of time. You can make up a minute but not three minutes and it wasn’t hot enough for anyone to blow up. They are just too fit.”
Middaugh ran into third place, breaking a string of five straight regional championship wins, but will return to racing in his backyard at Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado for the Mountain Championship next month with the chance to keep a perfect score in the Pro Series alive.
“Josiah has been the best athlete on Tour the last two years,” said Hugo. “He’s such a fighter; I kept sneaking a look over my shoulder.”
Brad Weiss was solid all-around in fourth (remarkably, his 9th top four finish in majors around the world this season), Craig Evans was first out of the water and finished fifth, 18yo sensation Mauricio Mendez placed sixth, and Branden Rakita was seventh. For Hugo, taking the top spot in RVA is something special.
“I love Richmond, for a lot of reasons and it didn’t disappoint today,” said Hugo. “I feel like these are my people. I love the outdoors but I love a good coffee, a great restaurant, a bit of culture and hip. I put these earrings in just for Richmond, haven’t worn them in ages. I felt like putting on a tattoo as well. It’s edgy here but it’s outdoorsy and healthy and active. I feel like the city lives, and they are creative, and manage incredible projects – even on our bike course. It’s not in some remote forest its right here in city center. The people that came up to cheer us on today dressed up, had little baby’s as a theme, wearing napkins, I mean c’mon. I’ll be coming back long after my triathlon career has stopped.”
As for Stoltz, he said “The race was really close. I’ll come back and do this course justice someday.”
Pl Name Age Hometown Time Points
1 Dan Hugo 28 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:17:57 100
2 Conrad Stoltz 40 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:18:32 90
3 Josiah Middaugh 35 Vail, Colorado 2:20:55 82
4 Bradley Weiss 25 Cape Town, South Africa 2:22:01 75
5 Craig Evans 36 Hendersonville, Tennessee 2:22:43 69
6 Mauricio Mendez 18 Mexico City, Mexico 2:23:35 63
7 Branden Rakita 33 Colorado Springs, Colorado 2:27:46 58
8 Chris Ganter 35 Boise, Idaho 2:28:57 53
9 Karsten Madsen 23 Kitchener, Ontario, Canada 2:29:44 49
10 Ryan DeCook 33 Rochester, Michigan 2:31:14 45
DUFFY WINS FIFTH STRAIGHT THIS SEASON
Flora Duffy, a two-time Olympian from Bermuda, was ahead from the start, posting the fastest swim and bike splits and coming across the finish line in 2:35:36, more than eight minutes ahead of Emma Garrard from Park City, Utah.
“Just like to say Happy Father’s day to all the Dads out there, especially my Dad in Bermuda,” said Duffy to the crowd at the awards ceremony. “I know he was watching online, and he’s been a huge part of my triathlon career. Hope he’s celebrating back home.”
Safe to say all of Bermuda is celebrating Duffy’s success. She’s won every XTERRA she has entered this season – the West, Southeast and East titles plus South Africa and the Asia-Pacific Championship race in Australia where she went up against reigning XTERRA World Champion Nicky Samuels. There is simply no one better right now, and today she found a course that melted her experience in racing in cities with her new-found passion for the trails.
“I love that this race is in the city but on trails and such a crowd,” said Duffy. “The fans here are passionate about mountain biking so that makes it even more special. Out on the bike there are sections of people cheering, all dressed up with cowbells and horns, and right at pretty technical sections shouting at you. It was amazing and so much fun, such a cool atmosphere.”
Duffy pulled away early in this one, posting a 16:11 swim split that was more than two minutes faster than everyone but Christine Jeffrey and almost four minutes quicker than Garrard, the eventual runner-up.
“The swim was hectic, that current was really pushing hard,” said Duffy. “At one of those buoys you turned around the current was pushing you back so you kind of got stuck to the buoy a little bit and that was nerve-wracking.”
Garrard had the fastest run split of the day and finished 2nd for the third straight race. Suzie Snyder had another great day and was riding in second on the bike. After the race she posted online that it was the “Worst swim of my life- goggle problems, current problems, etc… came out of the water FAR behind my usual place. Rode GREAT and moved into 2nd on the bike then ran strong but was passed by speedy Emma Jane Garrard and then held on for 3rd. Really happy with my day- thanks for all of the support and encouragement!”
Shonny Vanlandingham finished in fourth and Christine Jeffrey rounded out the podium.
Pl Name Age Hometown Time Points
1 Flora Duffy 26 Boulder, Colorado 2:35:36 100
2 Emma Garrard 32 Park City, Utah 2:44:23 90
3 Suzie Snyder 32 Fredericksburg, Virginia 2:45:52 82
4 Shonny Vanlandingham 44 Durango, Colorado 2:48:53 75
5 Christine Jeffrey 41 Tucson, Arizona 2:55:08 69
6 Catherine Sterling 37 W. Boylston, Massachussetts 3:01:07 63
7 Debby Sullivan 32 Rocklin, California 3:05:49 58
8 Mieko Carey 36 Tumon, Guam (Japan) 3:06:48 53
9 Amelia McCracken 30 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 3:08:59 49
10 Caroline Colonna 50 Taos, New Mexico 3:16:47 45