In Her Words: Melanie McQuaid On Rivalry

This report filed August 25, 2005 on http://www.insidetri.com

(Jamie Whitmore and Melanie McQuaid have waged a seesaw war over the past three years of Xterra – Whitmore capturing the world championship on the strength of her run in 2004 and McQuaid using her vicious bike skills to take the world title in 2003. Who will prevail in Maui, at the 2005 world championships on October 23rd? Here, Melanie writes about how a strong rivalry can force competitors to improve beyond perceived limits.)

A rivalry exists when one strives to obtain something simultaneously with another – something which only one can possess. In sport, there can be only one winner, which is why sport inspires some of the greatest rivalries in history. A great rivalry is something quite special. It allows competing athletes to create a history in the sport beyond themselves. It allows their actions, their efforts, and their heart to be permanently recorded with the spirit of sportsmanship and competitiveness. I can think of some great rivalries which will forever be linked with that sport: Armstrong v. Ullrich (cycling); Evert v. Navratilova (tennis); Allan v. Scott (triathlon). The story of their competition remains vivid beyond the victories, and I feel proud that within the sport of Xterra for the last three years I have participated in my own rivalry, McQuaid vs. Whitmore. Having close competition can be one of the greatest ways to explore your own ability as an athlete, and it can make even your losses become some of the best races of your career.

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Winning Under Pressure – Conquering Keystone!!

No victory is as satisfying as when you MUST win; all the pressure is on you to perform, and you are the target. This was the case this year at Keystone because if I didn’t win and tie up the points series, a win at Tahoe might not have meant an overall for me. Given that Jamie Whitmore has won this race for the past three years, convincingly, one would assume the odds were against me. The course is all above 9300 feet, peaking out at 11, 700 feet, the swim is very short, the bike is very short, and the run is very long. Looking at my resume, this wouldn’t look like a suited course for me. But for the past two weeks I have brushed that aside, moved in with my Saucony teammate Josiah Middaugh in Vail, Colorado, and made it my mission to win this race, with the kind of intensity I usually reserve for Hawaii. And it paid off! I led from mile two of the bike course and from there continued to put time on my competitors until I finished with three minutes at the finish. Particulary satisfying is the minute I put on Jamie on the run course and given that I have been passed on the run at the last two races in the final metres to lose by seconds this is significant! So, altitude schmaltitude, Tahoe will be mine!!! I am pretty excited, obviously, because this is a huge confidence boost for the US Finals in Lake Tahoe, at a measly 6700 feet. A lot of great stuff happened since our fun times in Crested Butte, so read on for the story…. Continue reading “Winning Under Pressure – Conquering Keystone!!”

Crested Butte Colorado – Career Breakthrough At Altitude!

It is hard for me even to believe that this is the FIRST race in my 11 years of racing road, mountain bike and triathlon that I have won a race at altitude. Incredible! Even when I was a favorite on the Canadian National Mountainbike series in the 90s I continued to falter at altitude, until now! What made a difference? Well, obviously three years of training with a Hypoxico altitude tent made a difference, as I have steadily improved at the high altitude races, but I think the fact that this year I MUST win at altitude to finish strong in the National Series has motivated me to push a little past the pain, and to prepare with scientific rigor. This was the reason that I went to my first Xterra Points Series race in Colorado, put on by the dynamic duo of Ashley Burt and Tina Kempin, both of the Crested Butte Bank, which sponsored and hosted the race. I wanted to have a race at a similar altitude to the race in Keystone, and Crested Butte fit the bill, over 9000 feet above sea level with similar race distance. I went to the race at the worst day of acclimation, after a week of pretty much sitting on my butt doing nothing, felt flat as a pancake, and busted ass to get the win. It was very satisfying. There were two very good locals there, Janae Pritchett and Jennifer Smith (known for NORBA racing), who are fully acclimated and ready for battle on their home turf, so I had some serious competition. This was very good for me, and the race was likely more difficult than the course at Keystone, so I feel like I had a good taste of what will be required at our last series stop before the finals. I had a fantastic week at the race, hosted by the awesome Burt family (the killer "B"s), so read on to hear about how cool Gunnison and Crested Butte, Colorado are… Continue reading “Crested Butte Colorado – Career Breakthrough At Altitude!”