Race Report: XTERRA West Championship
The XTERRA race season is off to a good start with a win at the West Championship in Las Vegas today. I knew it would be tough to come out with a win this early in the season, but my winter preparation has been good. Las Vegas was under a bit of a cold spell which was great for the bike and run, but it was a cold morning and the water was colder. It was my first open water swim of the season and I was able to get on some good feet. Branden Rakita and Seth Wealing were off the front, but Conrad Stoltz was within a minute. I was dangling off the second group of swimmers with some of the contenders close by. My goal was to try to mark Conrad on the bike and catch him on the run. I didn’t anticipate Branden and Seth riding so well off the front for much of the bike. On the Felt Nine Team I seemed to be matching Conrad well on the climbs but I was losing some time on the downhills and technical sections. I guess it takes more than one time on the dirt for my mountain biking skills to come around. Heading out on the run I caught word that I was 1:40 down to Conrad with Branden and Seth close behind. I knew that a majority of the climbing on the run course was in the first half so I tried to hit the course running hard. I felt very strong on the climbs and I was eating into Conrad’s lead early. Around mile 4 was a tough climb and I looked up and saw Conrad hiking with his hands on his knees. I just tried to keep my rhythm and made the pass on the steepest part of the course. It was a good feeling to be able to push the run from start to finish and whenever I asked, my legs responded. Hats off to a tough men’s field that keeps getting deeper. Next week we head to Waco, Texas for the second championsip race. Last year Conrad won big with a wizardly performance on the bike course on the most technical trail on the circuit. I will have my work cut out but it should prove to be another exciting race.