This Saturday, a competitive field of pros will toe the line at the Xterra USA Championship at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah.
Pro Men’s Race:
South African pro Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz is always a strong contender for the win in any Xterra race, and this year he’s still on fire. He’s got five Xterra wins for 2012, plus the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship victory. He’s dabbled in road, as well, with a runner-up finish at the Olympic-distance Rev3 Maine a month ago. Since the course is more suited to a strong mountain runner than a technical rider, the race will probably come down to the run again, as it did in 2011.
Stoltz’s top contenders include Colorado-based Josiah Middaugh, who’s ranked second in the Xterra series this year and put in a solid mountain run on this course last year to get on the podium. You also can’t count out last year’s Xterra USA Championship winner, Frenchman Nico Lebrun, who overtook the men’s leader, Dan Hugo, on the run. American Craig Evans, who was the runner-up at the ITU worlds race in Alabama this year, is a strong swimmer and having his best season to date, while American Branden Rakita, who’s based in Colorado, will enjoy the mountain course.
The fastest runner on this course last year, David Henestrosa, could have a good race, as could Aussie and veteran triathlete Chris Legh, who finished third in Alabama. Also look for Aussie Ben Allen to be leading into T1, as he did at this race in 2011.
Conrad Stoltz – 38, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Josiah Middaugh – 33, Vail, Colorado
Craig Evans – 34, Hendersonville, Tennessee
David Henestrosa – 35, Clearfield, Utah (Spain)
Branden Rakita – 31, Manitou Springs, Colorado
Will Kelsay – 30, Boulder, Colorado
Cody Waite – 33, Lakewood, Colorado
Chris Legh – 39, Lyons, Colorado (Australia)
Adam Wirth – 33, Boise, Idaho
Will Ross – 22, Anchorage, Alaska
Damian Gonzalez – 35, Stockton, California
Ryan Ignatz – 33, Boulder, Colorado
Brian Smith – 37, Gunnison, Colorado
Ben Allen – 27, North Wollongong, Australia
Simone Calamai – 43, Florence, Italy
Scott Gall – 38, Cedar Falls, Iowa
Sam Gardner – 37, Surrey, Great Britain
Denis Giovannetti – 38, Pistoia, Italy
Nicolas Lebrun – 39, Digne, France
Pro Women’s Race:
Canadian Melanie McQuaid is favored to win on this course, as she has the last two Utah races, and so far this season she’s won over a stacked field in Canada and was the runner-up at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships in Alabama. The winner in Alabama, and probably McQuaid’s biggest contender, is Scottish pro Lesley Paterson, the reigning Xterra world champion who was the runner-up on this course last year.
Other contenders include Renata Bucher, who is second in the Xterra series rankings, and Danelle Kabush, who had a breakthrough win at the Xterra Mountain Championships this year. Also, American Shonny Vanlandingham, who finished seventh on this course last year despite tearing her ACL a few weeks before and wore a knee brace for the run, looks like her recovery is going well.
Lesley Paterson – 31, San Diego, California (via Scotland)
Renata Bucher – 34, Lucerne, Switzerland
Melanie McQuaid – 38, Victoria, B.C., Canada
Danelle Kabush – 36, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Suzie Snyder – 29, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Sara Schuler – 31, Boulder, Colorado
Heather Holmes – 31, Pocatello, Idaho
Tamara Donelson – 36, Edwards, Colorado
Shonny Vanlandingham – 43, Durango, Colorado
Caroline Colonna – 46, Taos, New Mexico
Kim Baugh – 32, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Brandi Heisterman – 36, Brackendale, BC, Canada
Tammy Jacques – 46, Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Christine Jeffrey – 39, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Jacqui Slack – 29, Stoke-on-Trent, Great Britain
Carina Wasle – 28, Kundl, Austria
Watch the race live at 9 a.m. MST this Saturday, Sept. 22 at Xterralive.com.