Maui, Hawaii – With cloud cover providing some cool temperatures and even a hint of rain, Canada’s Melanie McQuaid and France’s Nico Lebrun took out sterling victories at the tenth annual XTERRA world championship at Makena, Maui.
Melanie likes winning again.
Photo By Don Karle
McQuaid became the first woman in the race’s history to repeat as champion, defeating defending champion and arch-rival Jamie Whitmore of the U.S., who finished third on the day. Switzerland’s Sybille Matter, who led out of the water, took second in only her second race on Maui after a debut sixth place last year. McQuaid, a former professional mountain biker, earned her first XTERRA win in 2003 and finished second to Whitmore last year. This year she battled Whitmore nose to nose all year long to finish second in the XTERRA U.S. points series.
“I just had an amazing day,” an exuberant McQuaid said at the finish at the race’s new home at the Maui Prince at Makena Resort. “It’s just so cool to see how strong the girls are. It took me a long time to catch Sybille because she was just riding awesome.
“That’s the future of our sport. It’s not just Jamie and Melanie, it’s Jamie and Melanie and Sybille and Renata (Bucher) and Danelle (Kabush) and all the rest of these awesome athletes.”
After exiting the water in third, McQuaid took the lead before the first major descent on the 32-kilometer bike and never looked back, heading home with nearly 45 seconds in hand over Matter. Behind her, Matter was using the day’s fastest run – a storming 51:53 10k – to consolidate her second place while Whitmore was determined to cling to third as fast runners threatened from behind. “I didn’t want to give up third place so I just put my head down and had to stay strong mentally,” Whitmore said at the finish.
The race for fourth and fifth was a scorcher, with just three seconds separating XTERRA rookie Renata Bucher of Switzerland from American Jenny Tobin.
Lebrun’s win in the men’s race marked a return to the top of the XTERRA game for the plucky all-’round athlete after bad luck with flats and mechanicals derailed his race last year, leaving him in sixth. In 2003, Lebrun finished second to Spain’s Eneko Llanos and was third in 2002 – but he’s also a silver medallist in the world duathlon championships and former world champion in winter triathlon.
Lebrun took control of the race about halfway through the bike, dueling with Canada’s Mike Vine in the later stages of the ride and coming into transition with about a minute in hand.
“It was a long trip to win here,” he said after the race. “I was second, third, and today I won. It’s amazing for me. I’m so, so happy.”
Lebrun said he knew he might have the race in hand when he finally came off the bike in first place – until then, in a race where a winning battle against the elements on the bike is essential to success, he couldn’t really allow himself such thoughts.
Nico adds off-road to his world titles.
Photo By Don Karle
“When I put the bike away first, I said to myself, ‘I think today it’s OK, it’s my day, because I know I can run very fast’ – normally it’s my best sport,” Lebrun said.
Llanos, the two-time champion, ran his way from fifth off of the bike into second by the finish, more than two minutes adrift of Lebrun. He’d struggled with a slowly leaking front tire and had stopped four or five times to add air along the way-but, as he admitted, it was really the first time he’d had any bad luck at XTERRA.
“This kind of thing happens on Maui, so apart from that my race was quite good,” he said. “I am happy.”
In third was Canada’s Brent McMahon in his rookie XTERRA season and Maui debut. The young ITU specialist and Olympian in triathlon last year led out of the water, then held onto sixth off the bike and ran into third on the strength of a blazing 44:01 run, the day’s fastest.
“It was a great day,” he said at the finish. “I’m just super-excited. I’m surprising a few people and I’m surprising myself, too. I didn’t know I was going to do this well. It’s really fun to do something different that’s really fun and then do well at it.”
Fourth went to Canada’s Mike Vine and fifth to Aussie Chris Legh, a long-course specialist on the roads who holds the run course record and again flew over the trails with a 44:24 run split.
Canada’s Peter Reid, who finished third at the Ironman Hawaii Championship last week, placed 14th overall at Xterra Worlds and won his sixth Hawaiian Airlines “Double” Award in seven years (including the last four). His combined time was 11:10:09 (8:20:04 in Kona and 2:50:05 in Maui). Aussie star Kate Major won the women’s double, and it was her first-ever XTERRA. Like Reid, Major finished third at Ironman. Her combined times equaled 12:51:01 (9:12:39 in Kona and 3:38:22 in Maui). Hawaiian Airlines awarded $2,500 cash to both.
In the amateur division Australian Ryland Garnett was the top male in 11:57:22 (8:55:20 + 3:02:02) and Amber Monforte was the top female in 10:41:07 (3:56:50 + 14:37:57). Those two received airfare from Hawaiian Airlines.
CBS will air the race on Super Bowl Sunday: February 5, 2006 at 12 noon EST.
Age is for old people.
Photo By Don Karle
Ned Overend, who became the first inductee into the XTERRA Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Saturday night, posted the 9th fastest bike split and placed 21st overall. It was Overend’s first XTERRA since finishing 4th in Maui in 2001. Quote of the day came from Peter Reid midway through the bike course when he passed a bunch of reporters saying “There’s a 50-year-old in front of me!”
Wendy Minor became the oldest woman to do the Hawaiian Airlines Double, finishing Ironman in 13:50:17 and XTERRA today in 5:06:43 for a combined 18:57:00.
Bobby McMullen, 42, became the first sight-impaired athlete to compete in the XTERRA World Championship. Led by guide Mark Shaw, McMullen finished unscathed in 7 hours and 45 minutes and got the loudest applause at the awards dinner.
A maxed-out field of 512 athletes were registered for the race; 479 started and 466 finished. Among the DNF’s were Dominic Gillen, Candy Angle, and Hektor Llanos – all victims of crashes and mechanicals.
Another previously retired XTERRA star, Pat Brown, un-retired to race with his dad, G.L. Brown, and both had great races (Pat was 29th overall and GL 7th in the 60-64 division).
Shonny Vanlandingham, the women’s U.S. National Mountain Bike Champ in the short course, had the fastest bike split and finished 7th overall in her first-ever XTERRA.
XTERRA World Championships. Oct. 23, 2005. Wailea, Maui, Hawaii.
S 1.5k/B 32k/R 10k
Overall Results, Women:
1. Melanie McQuaid (Can) 3:07:16
2. Sybille Matter (Sui) 3:08:00
3. Jamie Whitmore (USA) 3:13:51
4. Renata Bucher (Sui) 3:17:14
5. Jenny Tobin (USA) 3:17:17
6. Danelle Kabush (Can) 3:19:45
7. Shonny Vanlandingham (USA) 3:20:01
8. Monique Merrill (USA) 3:25:08
9. Melissa Thomas (USA) 3:25:49
10. Lisa Isom (USA) 3:26:08
Overall Results, Men:
1. Nico Lebrun (Fra) 2:38:19
2. Eneko Llanos (Esp) 2:41:41
3. Brent McMahon (Can) 2:42:01
4. Mike Vine (Can) 2:42:22
5. Chris Legh (Aus) 2:43:32
6. Nico Pfitzenmaier (Ger) 2:43:48
7. Olivier Marceau (Fra) 2:45:29
8. Ronnie Schildknecht (Sui) 2:45:43
9. Conrad Stoltz (Rsa) 2:46:23
10. Josiah Middaugh (USA) 2:47:33