The 2006 World Championships Cherry On Top Of My Sundae

Maui No Ka Oi…. Maui is the best!  How true is that?  The Xterra World Championships is held annually at this amazing paradise in the middle of the Pacific.  Each year the race lives up to its reputation as a challenging, unpredictable and unforgiving venue.  Extensive rain left the course strewn with huge boulders, ruts and grass.  The weather was beautiful during the week but by Sunday high winds made the swim choppy with some decent swells and on race day the thermostat was turned up quite a bit compared to the rest of the week.  The result?  Gaps on the swim as weaker swimmers were weeded out, carnage of crashes and flats on the bike course and complete meltdowns by very talented runners in the last portions of the run on the beach as they approached the finish.  Epic, brutal, unforgiving and “not fit for man or beast” are some of the descriptions of this race.  Never has this race ever been longer or harder than this year and I am absolutely stunned to have had the race I did on Sunday.  I think I had wings.  Maybe there was invisible force field protecting me from my near disasters on the bike course, of which there were many.  Whatever it was, I managed to leave no doubt as to who brought the best form to Worlds this year.  I knew it could be good but I didn’t know just how good my form was.  An eight minute margin to second was well above my expectations and I can go into the off season totally satisfied that the work, sacrifices and plans I made this year were the right ones.  Flippin’ sweet!

The weeks after Tahoe are tough on all of us.  It is getting late in the season.  Most of us go home to fairly crappy weather.  I had an amazing altitude camp in Gunnison that I believe set me up with an amazing aerobic base to go home and sharpen.  However, it is very tough to motivate at the end of a long year.  I come home to all the cyclists and triathletes enjoying the beginning of their off season and I am just winding up for the big show. Thank you to the group at Pacificsport for being there for me since my swim needed help- Neil, Craig and Pat rock.  Thanks to Palmer, Virge, Johnny and the boys at Broadmead for the amazing mountain bike rides… I so needed you guys and having those rides behind me gave me the confidence to stick like glue to the men around me, on the ups and the downs!  When my swim and bike start going good then my run comes around.  I think it was only four days before I started my taper that my run finally showed up to the party.  I had this amazing run at Mt Work where I ran an hour then punched it straight uphill on a trail that really is meant for hiking.  When I did that run I knew it… I knew I could take anyone on if necessary in the last leg of the race.  Thanks Cliff for those last four run workouts because I think they tipped the balance.

I can’t stress enough how important confidence is.  If you think you can win, with conviction, it will take quite a bit to wrestle that victory out of your hands.  That is how I came to Hawaii.  I was absolutely certain that race was mine to take.  I was nervous of the uncontrollable situations like mechanicals or crashes, but the brand new 2007 XTR group, the brand new Maxxis Larsons on a brand new Orbea Alma with all brand new Titec and Fizik magic was not to be messed with.  Bomb proof is how I would describe that bike.  I think about 10 giant boulders hit me on the course, I bottomed out my tire and new XTR rim on a rock TWICE and I sketched out completely off balance at least five times but saved it.  The race was not without incident but as I said, I was not to be denied.

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FIRST ATHLETE EVER TO WIN 3 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TITLES

Women – Final Results 

Melanie McQuaid – World Champion! 
Danelle Kabush

 

Men – Unofficial FINAL RESULTS!

Hamish Carter
Olivier marceau
Seth wealing

Women – Run Update!

Melanie McQuaid (7 MINUTES AHEAD)
Jenny Smith
Candy angle
Renata bucher
Danelle Kabush

 

Men transition to run

Olivier marceau
Josiah middaugh
Hamish
Seth
Greg krause
Eneko llanos
Brent McMahon

Women

Melanie McQuaid
Candy angle
Jenny Smith
Danelle Kabush

 

After the swim we stand like this:

Men

Hamish Carter
Brent McMahon
Seth Wealing
Olivier Marceau

Women

Sibylle Matter
Candy Angle
Yasuko Miyazaki (not sure about this one)
Melanie McQuaid
Jamie Whitmore (about 90 seconds back)

 

Here is the link to XterraPlanet updates.  I was unable to find the updates when I looked the first time:

http://xterraplanet.com/races/race.cfm?race_id=365

Thoughts To Put On Record Before The 2006 Xterra World Championships

It is such an incredible opportunity to go to a race as the defending World Champion.  The only thing better than that is to get a chance to go BACK as a World Champion having already experienced that situation and get the opportunity of a "do-over" if necessary.  To take all that I learned the last time around to the start line with me is absolutely amazing.  I feel I am mentally so much better prepared for this race, better than I ever have been.  However, I am always humbled by how unpredictable Maui is.  2003 was epically hot, 2004 I melted under pressure, and 2005 I had something to prove.  This season is a combination of all three years.  The competition will be hot since we have no idea the strengths of the Europeans, except to know they are strong.  There is pressure again for me as the returning champion with all eyes looking to see if I lose the title.  And again, I have something to prove.  This is how I see it and frankly, I am loving what I see. 

The other night we had some non-triathlete friends for dinner.  After some wine (not too much!) and chat about our upcoming Hawaii trip, Ross suggested they watch one of the Xterra videos to see what the sport was all about.  Anyways, we searched through our renovation mess to try and find either 2003 or 2005 Maui videos (the obvious first choices) but couldn’t find them and had to settle on the video from 2004.  I am SO happy that this was the video we watched.

 First off there are two words that come to mind when I watch that video:  WARDROBE MALFUNCTION.  I wore a swimsuit in that race that unfortunately was not made by Speedo.  The swim was all good but then about 10 feet into the bike the dreaded crawl began.  I think my suit spent the entire race up my butt.  The worst part of it was that it happened on the right hand side, the side on which the lead motorcycle camera was riding.  So, as they caught porn footage of my butt cheek, periodically I would decide it got a bit too far and pull it down.  Horrible!  It is very difficult to stay focused on hammering on the mountain bike when you are worried about how much of your ass is going to appear on national television.  This was an UNPREDICTABLE that happened, and on the day, it was a problem.

That was the funny part.  The not-funny part of 2004 was my attitude.  I was so exhausted from racing World Cup mountain bike races all spring, cramming tons of training in the winter with no break during the summer that by the time October rolled around I was physically done.  Instead of being fired up to win I was afraid.  Afraid I didn’t have it to repeat.  I wasn’t having fun anymore preparing for the event or even being at the event.  Once I stop feeling like it is fun I can’t handle the same workload and I don’t pay attention to details.  The details are what go into a World Championships win.  I am confident when I come to races prepared because  I know what I am capable of….

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A Result That Was Six Years In The Making, Overall US XTERRA Series Champion

It is funny to think back to the first time I raced in Tahoe. We started down at the lake, rode nearly the same way on the bike but transitioned at Ponderosa Ranch to the hilliest run ever. The only thing worse than my uphill running that year was my downhill running and I was beaten soundly, finishing well off the pace. The next year I came down with the flu the week of the race and held it together until the run and in the last 2 km was first passed by Raleigh Tennant and then in the last 200 m was passed by Candy Angle to end up fourth on the day and second overall. In 2003 I had a great race battling with Jamie but ultimately she out biked and out ran me and took the title and the series. Similarly, in 2004 she beat me but I cut the time deficit significantly. In 2005 I did not ride well but battled back to out run Jamie and come within 35 seconds of that elusive title. This year, it was all mine with time to spare.

Unfortunately Jamie managed to have a flat tire and given I already had gained a minute and thirty seconds on Tunnel Creek, which was basically only the first 30 minutes of the bike race, giving me any more time meant game over for her. This past Sunday I managed to erase five years of bad races in Tahoe with a new course record time achieved while high fiving and sauntering into the finish in front of the most amazing crowd ever. You can never say CAN’T because if you just work at it, eventually you CAN! Finally, Melanie has become the US Championships winner and the overall US Championships series winner!!

Congrats to Seth Wealing for taking the race and the series for the men, my homie MIke Vine for taking second and Chris Legh for busting into the scene in third. I was also happy for Josiah Middaugh who, in his first race back from a cracked patella, placed seventh on his way back to top form for Maui.

No matter what, the race in Tahoe is really hard. The course climbs from about 6300 feet at the swim up to 8700 feet at the peak of the Rim Trail, so it is a very high altitude adventure. This year the course was very sandy and unfortunately this spelled demise for pre-race favorite Conrad Stoltz who managed to crash off his bike while looking at the view, breaking both his arm and a vertebrae in his spine, thus ending his already horribly unlucky season. This spooked me for sure during my race because thinking that a rider as capable as Conrad could yard sale in the sand meant my lesser skills should not be tested too much, so I rode like a sissy on the downhill, I am not afraid to say. Luckily I had the time to do so!

I think I have already outlined the hard work and careful preparation I put into this year’s successful training plan for Tahoe. I was super careful with my nutrition (thanks Nature’s Path) to improve my power to weight ratio. My altitude camp in Gunnison was an incredible success and an amazing experience. Thanks to Ashley, Jackie, Emma, and Sam and the city of Gunnison for your amazing hospitality!!!! I had arranged an amazing homestay in Tahoe with my architect friend Elise Fett which finished the experience nicely. Unfortunately, my training partner Ashley Burt was out with a knee injury and Brian Smith got a bit sick and didn’t have his best race but Jackie Burt took 23 minutes off her time from last year on BAD legs (watch for her in Maui) to nab 13th and Jenny Smith crushed me on the bike on what was to be her best Xterra performance ever to place second. Yay Gunnison ladies! A big shoutout to fellow Canuck Danelle Kabush who had her best race of the season when it counted to take third place, Candy Angle took fourth and Jamie managed to get herself into fifth by the finish. So onto the story about my day…

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