Lesley Paterson win's XTERRA World Championship

Monday 29 October 2018
Lesley Paterson from Scotland captured the 23rd annual XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon elite title on a sunny but muddy day in Kapalua, Maui.

It’s the third XTERRA World title for Paterson, who last won in 2011 and 2012. Earning $20,000 for the victory, her share of the $100,000 elite purse.

The women’s race belonged to Paterson, who had the fastest bike and run times, coupled with one of the better swims of her career. She attributed her success to consistency of training, which has been lacking during the past five years while she struggled with Lyme Disease and injuries.

“I’ve done a lot of hard work over the summer and a lot of strength training and time at the gym,” said Paterson after the wreath of ti leaves was placed on her head. “Instead of being frustrated with the conditions, I was so grateful and happy to be out there. I may have dropped a few f-bombs here and there, but I kept it pretty chill.”

Flipo, who had won four out of the five XTERRA races she had entered before this one, swam with the men and had the fastest women’s swim split of the day with a time of 21:43, about three minutes ahead of three-time XTERRA World Champ Melanie McQuaid. Suzie Snyder was only six seconds behind McQuaid, and Brigitta Poor, Carina Wasle, Paterson, Penny Slater, Allison Baca, and Lizzie Orchard were within 20 seconds of Poor.

Flipo kept her lead on the mountain bike, but by mile two and a half, her lead was down to about a minute and a half over Paterson. By the six-mile mark, Paterson had moved into first place, with an almost two-minute lead on Brigitta Poor and more than two minutes on Flipo. Snyder moved into fourth place, followed closely by Lizzie Orchard and Carina Wasle.

“I had a great swim today and was really happy with it,” said Paterson. “When I got on the bike, I got into the lead pretty quick and tried to stay patient with the conditions.”

Still, Paterson never got comfortable with her position in the race. During the mountain bike course, she was aware that Poor, a strong mountain biker, was behind her.

“When I passed Brigitta, she was breathing hard and I felt good,” said Paterson. “My run is super strong right now but you’ve got to stay focused the whole time. You never know if you’ve got the win until you’ve crossed the line. That’s something I’ve learned.”

On the bike, Snyder moved up into fourth place after a disappointing swim.

“I’m not sure what happened today,” said Snyder, “The ocean pushed me backwards which usually doesn’t happen to me. On the second lap of the swim I made up some time and then passed a few girls on the mountain bike.”

Snyder and Orchard played a game of cat and mouse for fourth and fifth position on the muddy mountain bike course but Poor was still in third despite her mechanical difficulties. Carina Wasle also suffered from mechanical issues which dropped her further down in the pack where she finished the day in sixth place.

By the time the athletes came into transition, Paterson was leading Michelle Flipo by more than six minutes. Poor was about 90 seconds behind Flipo and Snyder was almost 90 seconds behind her. Orchard was next, about 10 minutes behind Paterson.

Paterson continued to dominate the run, passing some of the elite men as she made her way over the mud and the hills. By the time she cruised across the finish line, she had a more than a 10-minute lead over Flipo, who finished second, making this her best performance at the XTERRA World Championship. In 2016, Flipo finished sixth.

“It was a chore just to finish,” admitted Flipo, who has been racing on the ITU circuit this year in an effort to qualify for the Mexican Olympic Team. “It was such a challenge and I’m glad it’s over. The last time I raced here, it was also muddy, and I let it get me down. This year, I tried to keep calm and not get too frustrated.”

On the run, Flipo held onto second place, but Lizzie Orchard and Suzie Snyder both passed by Poor early on the first dirt climb.

“I had a good run,” said Orchard, who used to be a 1500-meter runner. “I passed Brigitta about halfway up the hill, which surprised me. I felt light on my feet today.”

Top 15 Elite Women  
1 Lesley Paterson Stirling, Scotland 3:29:07 $20,000
2 Michelle Flipo Palma De Mallorca, Mexico 3:39:55 $12,000
3 Lizzie Orchard Auckland, New Zealand 3:40:53 $7,000
4 Suzie Snyder Reno, NV, USA 3:44:28 $4,000
5 Brigitta Poor Gyor, Hungary 3:45:26 $2,500
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