Dan Hugo Gets Win, Melanie McQuaid Stays Perfect At XTERRA Northwest Cup

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Melanie McQuaid stayed perfect in 2009 while Dan Hugo broke through at the XTERRA Northwest Cup at Farragut State Park just north of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho this afternoon.

Over the last two years on the XTERRA America Tour the 23-year-old from Stellenbosch, South Africa (the same hometown as Conrad Stoltz) finished in the top 4 in seven straight races including three runner-ups, but today the sports youngest and brightest star found the top step for the first time.

“It sure did help that Josiah (Middaugh) and Mike (Vine) weren’t here and Conrad got a puncture, but it’s a great start and I’m super excited,” said the ever-humble Hugo.

Hugo came out of the swim in the incredibly gorgeous Lake Pend Oreille (the 5th deepest lake in the U.S. at 1,158-feet) with the lead pack that included Stoltz, Craig Evans, Seth Wealing, and Christine Jeffrey in just over 22 minutes.

As planned, Hugo stuck on Stoltz’ wheel until about three-quarters of the way through the first of two 11-mile loops on the bike when a nail lodged itself sideways through Stoltz’ tire and Hugo found himself all alone in front, where he stayed the rest of the way.

“It was a great day, I had good legs,” said Hugo, who clocked the quickest bike split in 1:19:36, a full three minutes better than Nico Lebrun’s’ 1:22.  “The bike was super fast, magically fast and furious and the run was spectacular.  Heading along the lake was breathtaking and the technical footing made it perhaps the most interesting run I’ve seen on the circuit.”

By the end of the first loop Hugo had put three minutes on Wealing, Evans, and Branden Rakita and extended that gap to more than five minutes by the bike-to-run transition.  Behind him Rakita moved into second heading into the run, followed by Lebrun, Wealing, Evans, and then Stoltz another minute back.

Lebrun, the three-time XTERRA European Tour and 2005 XTERRA World Champ, put down the fastest run of the day – a 40:43 10k – to pass Rakita and finish second (his best result this season).  Wealing had the second-best run to finish in third, Rakita held on for a career-best fourth and Stoltz ran past Evans to finish fifth.

In the women’s race “Big Fish” Jeffrey put nearly three minutes on McQuaid during the swim and held the lead through the first lap of the bike where McQuaid was 1:30 back, but by the bike-to-run transition McQuaid – boosted by the best bike of the day (1:33:31) – was more than four minutes in front.

Danelle Kabush made up a minute on Jeffrey to finish in second (her best of the year), and Jeffrey was third to make it an all-Canadian top three.  “Canadians rule, ehh,” said Jeffrey.

The 39-year-young Jenny Tobin had the fastest run of the day to work herself into fourth, and Emma Garrard rounded out the top 5.

The venue at Farragut State Park was unanimously approved as being one of the prettiest, most pristine, and incredibly beautiful places on earth and as outdoor enthusiasts nationwide celebrated the 17th Annual National Trails Day – the XTERRA Tribe did so in style in the Pacific Northwest.

1 .   Dan Hugo   2:25:32
2.    Nico Lebrun 2:29:38
3.    Seth Wealing 2:31:20
4.    Branden Rakita 2:33:19
5.    Conrad Stoltz 2:34:03

1.    Melanie McQuaid   2:51:10
2.    Danelle Kabush 2:52:50
3.    Christine Jeffrey  2:55:46
4.    Jenny Tobin    2:57:53
5.    Emma Garrard   2:59:05

Halfway through the 8-stop XTERRA Cup Series Conrad Stoltz and Melanie McQuaid remain on top.  With the win, Dan Hugo leapfrogged past Josiah Middaugh and Mike Vine into second place while Nico Lebrun moved into the top 5 with his runner-up performance today.  In the women’s chase McQuaid stays perfect, and Emma Garrard (who equaled her career best with a 5th place finish today) jumped past Shonny Vanlandingham and Renata Bucher into the No. 2 spot.  Christine Jeffrey moved up two places into 5th.

Courtesy of Trey Garman/XTERRA.

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