May 15, 2011 (Wilder Ranch State Park - Santa Cruz, CA) - Smiles ruled the day as Conrad Stoltz, 37, from South Africa and Lesley Paterson, 30, of Scotland won the inaugural XTERRA Pacific Championship at Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz, California this morning.
The tone was set by XTERRA great Jamie Whitmore (left), the most successful off-road triathlete of all-time with a world title and 37 championship wins, who was back on the bike and in her first race since 2007 after a bout with cancer that took her glute muscle, hamstring, calf and left her with no feeling in her foot.
With a help of the Challenged Athletes Foundation and a brace for her leg, she raced and won the physically challenged division of the XTERRA sport race today to the heart-warming admiration and joy of the entire XTERRA community.
Combine the good vibes from Whitmore with the sexy swim start spot right on the Santa Cruz Wharf with crowds lining the pier, waves crashing on the shore, and the sun shining brightly on a cool and crisp Northern California morning and you had all the right ingredients for a fabulous event.
The victory for the “Caveman," however, didn’t come easy as his fellow countryman Dan Hugo pushed him to the extent of his resources.
" I’m really happy to win here today because it’s been a tough week, a tough couple weeks actually as I’ve been sick since I got back from Spain,” said Stoltz , who won the ITU Cross Tri World Championship in Spain on April 30. “Since then I swam once and ran once. Yesterday I didn’t feel like racing, and the day before I was in bed all day, so today I just really hung in there because it was tough. Glad I won this race despite everything not going to well. That’s what the Caveman’s all about.”
As has long been the case, Stoltz is deadly on downhills and after a few thousand feet of climbing the course pointed down and the four-time XTERRA World Champ made his move.
“He’s simply magical. So incredible to watch when he’s on his game, out of the saddle twisted to one side, and never a thought of touching the brakes,” recounted Hugo, who did his best to stay with Stoltz but ultimately came into the bike-to-run transition a little less than a minute back.
The two posted nearly identical run splits as the Caveman dug deep to tap his instinct for victory. He was clearly exhausted and relieved after crossing the line in 2:12:51, 47-seconds ahead of Hugo.
“I’m really excited that XTERRA is back in California, the birthplace of triathlon and Santa Cruz is so quirky and funny and crazy. I love it here and can’t wait to come again,” said Stoltz at the awards ceremony.
Pl Name Age Hometown Time Pts Purse
1 Conrad Stoltz 37 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:12:51 100 $1,800
2 Dan Hugo 25 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:13:38 90 $1,250
3 Seth Wealing 32 Boulder, Colorado 2:14:49 82 $800
4 Josiah Middaugh 32 Vail, Colorado 2:18:11 75 $500
5 Branden Rakita 30 Manitou Springs, Colorado 2:20:59 69 $400
6 Trevor Glavin 31 San Diego, California 2:24:27 63 $300
7 Cody Waite 32 Lakewood, Colorado 2:24:59 58 $200
8 Craig Evans 33 Hendersonville, Tennessee 2:25:23 53
9 Chris Stehula 26 San Luis Obispo, California 2:25:26 49
10 Eric Clarkson 28 Santa Cruz, California 2:28:26 45
Also: Shiloh Mielke (41), Barry Wicks (37), Damian Gonzalez (34)
After four runner-up finishes in the last three years, including a second-place finish at XTERRA Worlds in 2009, Lesley Paterson finally got herself a championship.
The petite but incredibly powerful Scottish triathlete who lives down the coast in San Diego, strung together the second-fastest swim, third-best bike, and fastest run by far for a winning time of 2:33:13.
“This is awesome,” exclaimed Paterson (pictured) after crossing the line. “I hit it hard the whole way, and loved the course. The bike was awesome, and the run really suits me because it’s a leg speed course and that’s what I’ve got.”
Paterson came into the bike-to-run transition in second and started chasing Swiss sensation Renata Bucher. She caught her about a mile-half into the run and pulled away from there, finishing more than two minutes ahead.
The victory is especially sweet for Paterson as it was her first XTERRA of the season due to a groin injury that kept her out of racing for months.
“I couldn’t run for about 10 weeks, but sometimes that’s a good thing. You learn from it, you move on from it, and it made me hungry to get going again,” said Paterson.
Pl Name Age Hometown Time Pts Purse
1 Lesley Paterson 30 San Diego, California 2:33:13 100 $1,800
2 Renata Bucher 33 Lucerne, Switzerland 2:35:50 90 $1,250
3 Emma Garrard 29 Park City, Utah 2:36:17 82 $800
4 Shonny Vanlandingham 41 Durango, Colorado 2:36:53 75 $500
5 Melanie McQuaid 37 Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:37:43 69 $400
6 Christine Jeffrey 38 Guelph, Ontario, Canada 2:40:10 63 $300
7 Suzie Snyder 29 Fredericksburg, Virginia 2:42:08 58 $200
8 Jessica Noyola 28 San Diego, California 2:47:42 53
9 Caroline Colonna 46 Taos, New Mexico 3:00:24 49
10 Stella Carey 39 Felton, California 3:17:16 45
Photo Credit: EXTERRA