New Zealand couple Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford won the elite XTERRA USA Championship titles with winning times of 2:17:33 and 2:46:47, respectively, on a beautiful fall day on Saturday. at the Snowbasin Resort in the Wasatch Mountains. above Ogden.
This is the 17th career XTERRA World Tour victory for Osborne, the eighth for Kingsford and the fourth victory in 2021 for both. The New Zealand couple won their hometown XTERRA in Rotorua in April and then swept through all three major tournaments in the United States, achieving the lofty goal they set for themselves at the start of the season.
The race of the day was not the traditional XTERRA off-road triathlon, but rather a race-bike-race duathlon after swimming was canceled due to harmful algae blooms in the Pineview Reservoir. The new challenge featured a 2.5 mile trail run to start the run instead of swimming, a transition to an epic 19 mile mountain bike and ended with a grueling 5.5 mile trail run .
On the women’s side, three-time XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson set the tone in the fastest first run, but Kingsford was only 13 seconds behind and ready for the race.
About a mile off the bike, Kingsford caught up with Paterson and started to pull away. She clocked the best elite bike race time of the day and the fastest final race time to finish eight minutes ahead of Paterson for the win.
Paterson, who has been deep in her filmmaking career for over a year now, has shown that she always has what it takes to run at a high level.
Andie Aagard, a 15-year-old sophomore from Lone Peak High School in the Utah Valley, absolutely ran him over, had the fastest bike ride time of the day and, although he has never raced, finished second in the general classification.
“I wasn’t really expecting that because the last time I ran was three months ago and I decided to register last night,” said Aagard, a local phenomenon and the current female junior mountain bike champion 15-16 years old.
What’s even more incredible is that Aagard started the race four minutes behind in wave five and had to run and pass hundreds of other runners.
In the men it was a sprint from the opening cannon and as soon as the course started to climb straight onto the ski slope, Kieran McPherson jumped in front and challenged the peloton to go with him.
McPherson led the field in and out of the bike race transition, followed by Josiah Middaugh and Osborne seconds behind, then Colin Szuch, Eric Lagerstrom and Brian Smith. From T1 this group went all out in a race to be the first runner to the top of Sardine Peak at 7,400 feet. It’s a grueling 1,000-foot climb and it’s no surprise that Middaugh, perhaps the best climber in the sport, got there first.
The descent is relentless, about 2,000 feet of technical, winding singletrack over boulders and through tunnels of orange-yellow and pink leaves, and that’s where Osborne’s colors shone.
Middaugh closed the gap on the East Fork climb to maybe 20 seconds until Osborne, then made that 20 seconds on the Middle Fork descent, then pulled him a little more on the last climb. During the transition from bike to race, he was about 30 seconds behind and the race for gold was on.
“Sam accelerated that first mile and I ran hard but didn’t have the next speed,” said Middaugh. “I felt stable and strong, I just didn’t have a lot of pop. Sam is super strong, he’s a tough guy to beat so I was happy to be second.
Osborne posted the second fastest run of the day and was thrilled when he crossed the finish line, and moved to get the win he had been working on since May.
“Sweeping the major tournaments in the United States is a dream,” said Osborne, the defending XTERRA Pan Am Tour champion who won the event as an off-road triathlon he two years ago. “It was a big commitment for Samantha and I to come to the United States for this show in the middle of a pandemic, and it was difficult, so to do it, it’s amazing.”
This story provided by XTERRA USA has been edited for space and clarity.