XTERRA Pan-Am USA Champs Elite Race Preview

Friday 14 September 2018
More than 30 elites from around the world are scheduled to compete at the XTERRA Pan American / USA Championship race in Ogden, Utah next Saturday, September 15.

The story lines run deep in the men’s elite race, and the best one belongs to Bradley Weiss.  The 29-year-old from South Africa, once the prodigy of XTERRA Hall of Famers Conrad Stoltz and Dan Hugo, has an opportunity to do something neither of his fellow countrymen ever did – win the continental Grand Slam of XTERRA.

“So far in 2018 I have won the XTERRA African Champs, XTERRA Asia-Pacific Champs, as well as most recently the XTERRA European Champs, so if I could win the Pan American Champs and hold all the continental titles in one calendar year, that would be pretty special,” said Weiss.

It would also be unprecedented, but to do it the reigning XTERRA World Champion will have to get past the 2016 XTERRA World Champion, Mauricio Mendez from Mexico, and the 2015 XTERRA World Champion, Josiah Middaugh from the U.S.

“The competition will be fierce with the likes of Mau, Josiah, as well as Sam Long, all of whom are racing incredibly well this season,” said Weiss, who finished third at this race last year behind Mendez and Middaugh.  “I’ve never won in Utah despite the course fitting me perfectly. The most challenging part for me is the altitude, which I should hopefully have a better handle on this year after spending some time in Livigno, Italy preparing at altitude for the European Championships.”

For Mendez, who led this race from wire-to-wire last year and posted the fastest run of the day to seal the deal, altitude is just another tool in his arsenal.  He grew up in Mexico City at around 7,000-feet, so even the very top of the bike course in Utah, which peaks at 7,300-feet, is nothing out of the ordinary.

“What I love about this course is how honest it is in terms of your endurance. You need to play all your cards here.  It’s going to be an amazing race, and I will give my everything, every second,” said Mendez, who is on a quest to defend his Pan Am title.  “Last year I had one of my best races in Utah, but the competition is always getting stronger. Our sport is evolving, and I am happy to be part of it and help take XTERRA to the next level.”

In the women’s elite race all eyes are on the Scottish Rocket, Lesley Paterson.

Her credentials tell you why.  She won here last year, and three times total.  She’s a two-time XTERRA World Champ, the reigning and two-time ITU Cross Tri World Champ, and won both U.S. stops on the Pan Am Tour this year at Oak Mountain and Beaver Creek.   She’s also a model, film producer, coach, and wrote the book on the mental game in this sport; The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion.  

“Love Utah,” exclaimed Paterson, who will be there all week enjoying the trails before the race. “I’m stoked on the course as it suits me as a climber. It’s also one of the most beautiful courses out there, especially when the leaves are turning for fall. I’m fit and healthy and super stoked to be out there racing. I’ve also been preparing at altitude in Boulder with other pro athletes, Will Kelsey and Humberto Rivera, so the game plan is to hit it hard and never look back and see where my fitness is at!”

While odds are Paterson makes her move early and never looks back, America’s Julie Baker has proven she belongs and led this race through the first five miles of the bike last year.

“I was in front for a little bit which was fun, but I kept waiting for Lesley to steamroll by me,” she said after the race.  “Lesley came by me by the bridges at mile five I guess, and she opened up a little gap on me and then on that little rocky mountain hill I caught her again. Then as soon as we started up again, she took it away. She just goes insanely hard, and she breathes like a freight train coming by and I don’t know how she goes that fast and that hard for so long. It’s incredible.”

As for this time around, Baker said “I really like the Snowbasin course. I like the climbing and that the first little descent has some rocky spots. I also seem to do well with high altitude swims. Of course, there are other people that are even better at climbing, so it will be a good challenge.”

Reigning XTERRA Pan Am Tour Champ Suzie Snyder is also hoping to put in a good effort, despite spending the season recovering from injury.

MALE ELITE:
1 – Kieran McPherson, 26, Matamata, New Zealand
2 – Karsten Madsen, 26, Kitchener, ON, Canada
3 – Josiah Middaugh, 40, Eagle-Vail, Colorado
4 – Branden Rakita, 37, Colorado Springs, Colorado
6 – Rafael Juriti, 34, Brumadinho, Brazil
8 – Brian Smith, 42, Gunnison, Colorado
10 – Mauricio Mendez, 22, Mexico City, Mexico
11 – Ian King, 28, Fort Collins, Colorado
12 – Sam Long, 22, Boulder, Colorado
13 – Will Kelsay, 37, Denver, Colorado
31 – Brad Zoller, 41, Avon, Colorado 
45 – Hans Ryham, 40, Houston, Texas
NR – Michael Nunez, 37, Salt Lake City, Utah
NR – Humberto Rivera, 28, San Diego, California
NR – Walter Schafer, 26, Englewood, Colorado
NR – Bradley Weiss, 29, Stellenbosch, South Africa

FEMALE ELITE:
1 – Fabiola Corona, 38, Queretaro, Mexico
2 – Kara LaPoint, 31, Basalt, Colorado
3 – Kelli Montgomery, 45, Wallingford, Connecticut
5 – Julie Baker, 41, Sonora, California
6 – Allison Baca, 28, Boulder, Colorado
7 – Lesley Paterson, 37, San Diego, California
8 – Katie Button, 33, Sechelt, BC, Canada
9 – Rebecca Blatt, 38, Denver, Colorado
10 – Jessie Koltz, 29, Reno, Nevada
12 – Heather Zimchek-Dunn, 32, Olympia, Washington
33 – Emanuela Bandol, 38, West Kelowna, BC, Canada
NR – Erin Ray, 36, Las Vegas, Nevada
NR – Magali Tisseyre, 36, Mont Tremblant, QC, Canada
NR – Suzie Snyder, 36, Reno, N
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