LeBrun, McQuaid win titles

The men’s champion breaks through, while the women’s titlist proves her dominance

By Fred Guzman

Special to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Monday, October 24, 2005

MAKENA, Maui >> Under heavily overcast skies, it was a bright afternoon in the lives of two competitors in the off-road Nissan Xterra World Championships yesterday.

For one, Nicolas LeBrun of France, it marked the end of frustrating close calls. For the other, Melanie McQuaid of Canada, it was a signal that she has become the most dominant performer in an extreme sport requiring athletes to compete in a 1,500-meter ocean swim, a 40-kilometer bike ride and a 10-kilometer run.

Continue reading “LeBrun, McQuaid win titles”

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!!”

Milwaukee Mishap Means No Number One

It was all over except for the news reports, I had a four minute lead built up by a third fastest swim and fastest bike leg, and as I went out onto the run I was certain my run was going to be a formality. I steady clicked through the miles, careful to drink whenever possible, and focused on leg turnover. Then disaster struck?. I took a wrong turn at about 4 km to go, adding about 600m while I traveled back to the course en route to the finish. I continued on, trying to not think about the error, but with about 300m to finish, Jamie surprised me, running by into the finish, and I had nothing to answer with and lost the race by 22 seconds. That is racing and it was my own error (likely caused by a little heat induced delirium, it was almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit and about 88 percent humidity, I spend a little time with an IV post-race) and I am SO mad that I handed over the win when I already owned it. I am now focused on our next race in Keystone, which may be pivotal for the series. I am at a 10 point disadvantage for the series, and I can?t afford to be more than that going into the finals in Lake Tahoe. Jamie and I have further pulled away from the rest of the girls for the overall title, almost assuring ourselves of the top two spots (barring a DNF disaster in Tahoe) but unless I win in Keystone, CO in three weeks, even a win in Tahoe won?t ensure a first place in the US Series. Nothing like a little pressure to make you step up, huh? So I am on my way to Boulder right now, my second favorite training place on the planet, to adjust to altitude and try and get my best possible race at 9500 feet. But going back a bit to the story of Milwaukee, city of beer and brats??. Continue reading “Milwaukee Mishap Means No Number One”

First Victory For a New Season!!

This past weekend was the first race in the US Xterra Championships Series in Temecula, California, a venue about half way between Palm Springs and San Diego. The course reminded me of a cross between the Desert Nova Classic in Arizona and Sea Otter in Monterey. A mix of sand traps and high speed hardpack, with 7km of the 11km run comprised of energy sapping sand to run in. I was super conservative with my expectations for this first race of the season. I had no idea where everyone else was coming into 2005, and anyone who has read my last few articles knows that I have been down for the count struggling to get racing form. I wasn’t sure where I was going to measure up but I ended up on top and yes, it felt damn good! It is motivating to have success after hard work to get back on form, especially after such a frustrating spring. I now am home training for some mountain bike races in Eastern Canada before I head over for the European Xterra Tour and I am happy to have some confidence to travel with…. Continue reading “First Victory For a New Season!!”