Conrad Snover can now call himself a World Champion. All it took was the race of his life.
In his sixth year competing in the Nissan Xterra Championship Series, the 31-year-old Truckee resident took the top spot in the 30-34 age group at the Nissan Xterra World Championship in Makena, Maui, Hawaii on Sunday. Prior to the race, Snover had placed fourth twice and sixth once in the five years he qualified for the World Championship.
“It was awesome. It was definitely the best finish I’ve ever had in any triathlon,” said Snover, who crossed the finish line in 3:01:50, trailing only Rom Akerson of Costa Rica (2:57:43) for second place among non pros.
Akerson placed 17th overall while Hamish Carter, a professional triathlete from Mt. Eden, New Zealand, was first in 2:42:36. Seth Wealing, a pro from Boulder, Colo., placed highest among Americans in third (2:44:05).
Snover was 24th overall in a field of 518 triathletes, and ninth among Americans.
The next closest competitor in the 30-34 age group ” declared by XTERRA marketing director Trey Garman as “hands down the toughest” division overall ” was Thomas J. Vonach of Australia, who finished nearly a minute behind Snover in 3:02:43.
“The whole race just came together,” Snover said. And it all started in the water.
On a humid day with the temperature topping out around 90 degrees, Snover said he got off to a solid start on the 1.5-kilometer, rough-water swim off Maui Prince Beach.
With more than 500 triathletes charging full bore through the ocean chop, swimming into the middle of the mayhem can mean bad things for a racer’s time, Snover said.
Thus he skirted the pack and managed to avoid much of the jostling with a safer outside position.
“Everybody is going for one buoy, so it’s really physical,” he said. “You can get pretty slammed.”
The transition area between the swim and bike portion perhaps was equally chaotic, Snover said. But he came out of the water in good shape before emerging from the chaos on his bike, his strongest discipline.
“I had a really good bike leg,” Snover said of the 32-kilometer mountain bike ride up the slopes of a volcano ” Haleakala. “I passed a ton of people and felt strong the whole time. It always hurts. It was still super hard, but I was riding fast.”
While Snover said he had a blast on his bike, that certainly was not the case for all racers.
“There was carnage out there,” he said, describing a scene with “lots of crashes” on the sharp volcanic rocks, with competitors braking wheels and bones and many dealing with flat tires.
“It was super hilly. It went straight up the side of a volcano on super loose lava rocks,” Snover said. “It pretty much went straight up and straight back down.”
By the end of the bike leg, Snover had pulled into first place before making the transition to the final portion of the race ” a 10-kilometer trail run.
“I just ran as hard as I could the whole time and I took it one piece at a time so I could stay focused, because I’m not a runner,” he said.
As professional triathletes passed him, Snover said he concentrated on the task at hand, and nothing else.
“I wasn’t shooting for any certain time,” he said. “You basically just go as hard as you can and don’t worry about your time.”
Feet sore and toenails bleeding, Snover crossed the finish line, knowing that by completing the race of his life, he had held off everyone in the highly competitive 30-34 age group.
“I felt great,” Snover said. “I’m really satisfied. It was a huge accomplishment.”
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