Tahoe locals finish strong at Xterra national championship
To keep a competitive edge in not just one, but three different sports requires an ultimate level of balance. And thats just what benefited Tahoe basin finishers Ross McMahan and Zack Beekler in last weekends Nissan Xterra USA Championship at Incline Village, Nev. The off-road national triathlon competition featured a 1.5- kilometer swim in Lake Tahoe, a 35-kilometer mountain bike course and a 10-kilometer trail run.Beekler, of Truckee, took second place for the third year in a row in his 40-44 age division in 3 hours, 11 minutes and 33 seconds, while McMahan bested his 2003 fifth-place finish with a third-place finish in the highly competitive 30-34 age group. McMahan even finished ahead of three-time womens pro national champion Jamie Whitmore with a time of 3 hours, 1 minute and six seconds. McMahan and Beekler put together stellar performances on race day forcing one to wonder if the two had anything in common. It turns out the answer is yes rest. Its better to be rested. If everythings not kept in balance then something has to give, said the 42-year-old Beekler. And rest is essential given Beeklers busy career. He works 60 hours a week as a senior territory manager for Wyeth, a global pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, commuting between work in the Bay Area and his outdoor life in the mountains. Working for the Solgar division that distributes nutritional supplements, Beeklers career is directly tied in with his athletic lifestyle. He works with New Moon Natural Foods in Truckee and seeks nutritional counseling there.Beekler values the camaraderie of his girlfriend, also a triathlon competitor, in addition to hobbies like windsurfing, mountain biking and triathlon racing. Routine visits to Tahoe Yoga & Wellness Center, Pilates, rest and massage therapy have helped give him the balance he needs to maintain a competitive edge.McMahan has a similar philosophy. I really think the rest that I got helped me out this year. Before the race I took Thursday off, rode the bike course easy on Friday and ran half the run course easy on Saturday. And I had a sports massage, he said. I had a really good race at Big Bear and decided to just do what I did before the Big Bear race to prepare for the nationals.McMahan won his 30-34 age division at the Nissan XTERRA West Championship at Big Bear, Calif., on Aug. 15, less than one month after enduring a separated shoulder in a biker/vehicle collision. Due to the injury, he was not able to focus much on his swim leading up to the national race. Instead, he worked to specialize his mountain bike and running legs of the competition. It seemed to work. After emerging from the water in ninth place in his age group, McMahan gained ground on his competitors in the bike-leg, recording the third-fastest time in his division.The bike is where I made up time, and on the run I just tried to hold my place, he said. Beekler finished third in his age group out of the water in 27:03 minutes and kept the lead on first-place rival Tom Lyons, of Reno, Nev. I can usually stay ahead of him through the climb, but he puts a couple of minutes on me in the downhill, Beekler said of Lyons.Beekler competed in six major triathlons this year. He took third in his age group and 30th among 1,800 triathletes entered in Junes Escape from Alcatraz, one of the largest Olympic international triathlons; and three additional second-place finishes in the Donner Lake and High Sierra Triathlons as well as the Nissan Xterra West Championship at Big Bear, Calif.But Beekler insists a major key to his success in the sport of triathlon is making sure he spends enough time away from it. From Thanksgiving to March, you probably wont find Beekler on a track, in a pool, or on a bike. Instead, he will likely be found snowboarding or cross country skiing in the Sierra backcountry.Although Beekler is unsure if hell race at the World Championships in Wailea, Hawaii, on Oct. 24, McMahan will be there with the drive to improve his 14th-place standing in last years competition. Tim Menoher, who won my age group, wont be there, he said. So, Ill just have to focus on the guy who got second Matt Boobar. I was happy with this race and how close I was to him.[Sierra Sun sports editor Matt Brown contributed to this story. For more information on Solgar, visit http://www.solgar.com. For more information on Xterra, visit http://www.xterraplanet.com.][For complete Xterra (Nevada) USA Championship results, visit: http://www.xterraplanet.com/nevada04/nevada04_results.htm%5D%5BRead about the Xterra West Championship at Big Bear:https://www.sierrasun.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040819/SPORTS/40819004%5D
Dust was flying at deadmans curve as professional Xterra triathletes Eneko Llanos, 27, of Spain, and Sylvain Dodet, 29, of France, led the pack down the steep Tunnel Creek descent on their way to finishing the 35-kilometer mountain bike leg of the Nissan Xterra USA Championship on Sept. 26.Llanos, reigning 2003 Xterra World Champion and recent Olympic triathlete, held onto his 40-second lead out of the 1.5-kilometer swim, securing him his first victory at the USA Xterra nationals in 2 hours, 36 minutes and 36 seconds. Three or four times we traded leads, Llanos said. The downhill I was a little faster than him, and he was a little faster than me on the climbs. Id pass him and then hed pass me. Dodet took second in 2 hours, 37 minutes and 25 seconds and Josiah Middaugh, the first American male to finish, took third in 2 hours, 39 minutes and 15 seconds. Its a big honor to be the top American, Middaugh said. I take a lot of pride in that. Middaugh said he struggled on the mountain bike, although his time the fastest of the day in 1 hour, 36 minutes and 26 seconds suggests otherwise.I came back to have the best run Ive had all year, he said of the final leg in the race. Middaughs time in the 10-kilometer run 36 minutes and 53 seconds was the fastest recorded run for the day. Another fast American topped the womens podium, with her third consecutive Xterra nationals victory in 3 hours, one minute and 47 seconds the fastest recorded time on this course. Jamie Whitmore, of Elk Grove, Calif., walked away with a total $19,400 in prize money, making her the winningest triathlete at this years Xterra. Its a good feeling, she said. I really come here to represent, and I feel like I did that today. Its always about racing your own race all the way to the finish. Whitmore said an extra incentive that fueled her competitive fire was a recent third-place finish in Germany, resulting from three flat tires endured on the course. Whitmore cruised through the mountain bike leg of the event without a problem, recording the fastest womens time of the day in 1 hour, 51 minutes and eight seconds more than one minute ahead of second-place pro female Melanie McQuaid. I really didnt have the legs on the bike I was looking for to win, and in fact it got to the point where I wasnt sure if I had the legs to finish, McQuaid said. McQuaid, the reigning 2003 Xterra World Champion, finished the race in 3 hours, six minutes and 53 seconds, just under two seconds ahead of Candy Angle in 3 hours, 8 minutes and 52 seconds. More than 350 amateur qualifiers and professional triathletes raced on Sunday. Among the more than 35 pros entered in the race, two amateur men and women rose to the top of their field amidst the pros.For the men, 19-year-old Taylor Tolleson of Pacific Grove, Calif., was the first amateur to finish in 2 hours and 50 minutes, beating more than half of the pros. Lara Usinowicz of Denver, Colo., led the womens amateur field for the second time this season, finishing in 3 hours, 31 minutes and 14 seconds. Trey Garman contributed to this story
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