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Josiah Middaugh’s Last Lap

After an off-road multisport career that has spanned nearly two decades, XTERRA legend Josiah Middaugh is finally ready to transition away from racing.

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In 2003, George W. Bush was in the White House, the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, and a pair of Canadians—Peter Reid and Lori Bowden—won the Ironman World Championship in Kona. That same year, Josiah Middaugh was a newly married former collegiate runner, with a mountain bike he picked up at a pawn shop and a mean side stroke, who thought he’d give professional off-road triathlon racing a whirl.

Much has changed over the past 18 years, but one thing has remained constant: Middaugh is still racing off-road tri. Now a father of three with a Masters in kinesiology who runs his own coaching business from his home in Vail, Colorado, Middaugh recently won an XTERRA National Title—his 15th, to be exact, an unprecedented feat. When he toes the line of the XTERRA World Champs in Maui this December, it’ll be his 20th time doing so, including the years he raced as an amateur. He even won the world title once, back in 2015.

But despite his Tom Brady-esque dominance in a sport that tends to favor far younger athletes, Middaugh is finally ready for his curtain call. The race in Maui, he said, will likely be his last.

He’s ready to focus on his kids’ activities. To have more time to invest in his company and other endeavors. To coach his daughter Larsen’s cross-country team. To do some training with his teenage sons, Sullivan and Porter, star runners who have shown natural talent in off-road racing themselves, with sixth and 17th places overall at XTERRA Beaver Creek in July. Heck, Middaugh is ready to plan a family vacation without a triathlon attached to it.

“Elite racing has been a huge passion, but has also required big sacrifices from myself and my family,” he explained. “I want to go out on my own terms, so I am trying to make the most of 2021 and plan to reprioritize my life after this season.”

Middaugh’s version of “making the most of it” reads more like a victory tour than a quiet ride into the sunset. He is as fiercely competitive as ever (hence the recent national title) and is still training to be the world’s best. But considering the ruggedness of off-road racing, Middaugh is all too aware that things can go south in a split second. You couldn’t make it 18 years without some serious wrecks and massive setbacks, including a fractured patella and multiple knee surgeries. So if things don’t go his way in Maui for whatever reason, Middaugh said he’ll be grateful just for the opportunity to be out there, after all this time.

Of course, that’s not to say he doesn’t want to win.

“I know what I am capable of from a performance perspective, which I think will be good enough for a podium position,” Middaugh said. “But there is only one way to find out.”

RELATED: PROfile: Josiah Middaugh

Josiah’s Career by the Numbers

  • 1st: Place he finished in his age-group at the 2002 XTERRA World Championships (he turned pro the following season)
  • 2: Fat Bike World Championships won
  • 6: National Snowshoe Championships won
  • 15: XTERRA National Championships won
  • 17: Countries he’s raced on spanning 6 continents
  • 39th: Place he finished in his first XTERRA race in 2000, the American Tour in Keystone, Colorado
  • 172: XTERRA triathlons he’s competed in throughout his career
  • 300: Number of tires he’s gone through
  • 9,240: Approximate miles of dirt trails he’s raced on

The 2021 XTERRA World Championship starts on Sunday at 8 a.m. Hawaii time. Live results will be posted here. You can also follow XTERRAplanet on Instagram for updates.