August 16, 2008 — SNOWBASIN RESORT, UTAH – On a course that featured more than 3,000-feet of climbing on rocky off-road mountain trails Conrad Stoltz from South Africa and Melanie McQuaid from Canada showcased an astonishing level of fitness and skill to win the XTERRA Mountain Championship today.
In the men’s race Stoltz was playing cat-and-mouse and trading the lead spot with Canadian Mike Vine during the last half of the bike before pulling away on the final downhill and getting into the bike-to-run transition with a one-minute lead.
“Mike and I were battling back and forth on the bike and were even running alongside each other pushing our bikes uphill at one point. We traded leads all the way to the summit and I know what a great runner he is so I went flat out on the downhill, I was basically free falling down the side of this mountain,” said Stoltz.
Vine was able to make up some time on the run, but not enough as Stoltz, the 3-time XTERRA World Champ (and two-time Olympian), held on for a 31-second margin of victory.
The men’s race at the front was the closest XTERRA has seen in a long time as Stoltz’ winning time of 2:21:32 was less than a minute faster than the next four racers with Vine coming in at 2:22:03, Brian Smith in 2:22:12 and last year’s race winner Seth Wealing in 2:22:22.
Brian Smith, who became the inaugural XTERRA Winter World Champion here at Snowbasin when it was covered in the “The Greatest Snow on Earth” back in March, was nearly five minutes behind Stoltz coming out of the water but posted the fastest bike split of the day (1:25:40) and headed into the bike-to-run transition just two minutes down alongside Seth Wealing. Smith, the top American in the race, headed out on the run just 10 seconds ahead of Wealing and the two posted identical run splits (30:23).
Melanie McQuaid was three minutes off the swim pace set by Christine Jeffrey and Linda Gallo but quickly made up that ground and took the lead at around mile five of the mountain bike portion and never looked back.
Shonny Vanlandingham, current and 7-time member of the U.S. National Mountain Bike team, posted the fastest bike split of the day to pull within striking distance but McQuaid hammered the run and won in 2:40:17, more than a minute-and-a-half in front of Vanlandingham.
Jenny Smith came out of the water at the same time as Shonny V and posted the second-best bike split to move into third, Danelle Kabush put together the best run of the day to finish fourth, and Jenny Tobin placed 5th.
For more information, visit xterraplanet.com.