The dynamic duo- Melanie McQuaid & Conrad Stoltz are 3-for-3 after taking on the XTERRA Southeast Championships, held in Pelham Alabama, this past weekend.
At about the same time the endurance community celebrated the life of cycling and triathlon great Steve Larsen (who passed away on Tuesday) with memorial rides and runs in his hometown of Bend, OR, many of Larsen’s friends in sport were riding and running in honor of him in the southern woods of Alabama today.
Leading the charge was Stoltz, who said “the technical parts are usually my strengths, but today I couldn’t focus. I did feel like I had amazing strength today though. This was a great victory for Steve.”
Many of the riders dedicated their efforts today to Larsen and his family, including Stoltz and McQuaid.
“Steve was such a huge inspiration for me coming from a mountain biking background. I felt really strong today,” said McQuaid.
It was certainly a day where XTERRA athletes could find inspiration all around, as even the sports all-time winningest athlete Jamie Whitmore (cancer survivor/battler) came out from California to be one of the race announcers. In addition, TEAM 413 Gracerunner ministries held a sunrise service before the race and all paused for a moment of silence in Larsen’s memory*.
The race started with Evans coming out of the water first for the fourth straight year here, but Stoltz caught him quickly and entered the run with a big lead that he never relinquished. Josiah Middaugh was second off the bike, then Dan Hugo and Mike Vine together in third and fourth.
“Conrad was out of sight today and was ahead from the start,” said Middaugh. “I tried to close the gap, but he had a great race today.”
The men finished Stoltz, Middaugh, Vine, Hugo (the same top four finishers in each of the first three Cup races) with Nico Lebrun in 5th for the second weekend in a row.
In the women’s race Melanie McQuaid was the first out of the water and never trailed thereafter. “I had a great day today. I am much better without a wetsuit and I got a good start on the bike. I was really lucky to have Casey Fannin around me, and we were going back and forth until I started to climb. The last couple of climbs on the run took everything I had. I was happy with the perfect weather, the people cheering in the woods, and the TT tires I rode on.”
“The women’s race is getting really exciting, and I won’t always be on top. We definitely have to make sure we watch out for Lesley in the future,” said McQuaid.
Additional AVIA sponsored athletes competing included Shonny Vanlandingham (4th) and Danelle Kabush (7th).