Middaugh wins US Xterra title for 15th time


Josiah Middaugh will face the mountain bike portion of the Xterra USA Championship on Saturday in Ogden, Utah. Xterra races consist of outdoor swimming, mountain biking and trail running in a triathlon format.
Xterra / Courtesy photo

Josiah Middaugh was the top American at the Xterra USA Championship in Ogden, Utah for the 15th time on Saturday, an unprecedented achievement in the sport of off-road triathlon.

Middaugh, who lives at EagleVail, finished second overall behind New Zealander Sam Osborne, but as the first American competitor to cross the finish line, he won the Xterra US Elite Men’s Championship.

Middaugh’s off-road triathlon career began in 2002 as an amateur Xterra racer. After winning the amateur divisions, he turned professional in 2003 and hasn’t looked back. The biggest moment of his career came in 2015 when he won the Xterra World Championship in Hawaii at the age of 37.

Middaugh would continue to be the top American at the United States Championship at Ogden for 2016-2018, before taking off in 2019 to participate in the “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji” program on Amazon Prime.

No Xterra races were held in 2020, and returning to the sport in 2021, Middaugh said he was satisfied with his performance as a Top American.

“Sam is super strong, he’s a tough guy to beat so I was happy to be second,” Middaugh said of Osborne.

Osborne also won the other two championship races to be held in the United States this year, in Pelham, Alabama, and in Eagle County at Beaver Creek. It is another rival of New Zealand in a sport which produces many competitors from this region of the globe. Kieran McPherson of Matamata, New Zealand faced Middaugh in the 2018 season.

“When your career is this long, sometimes you have multiple rivals from the same country,” Middaugh said with a laugh.

Middaugh in the running segment of the Xterra USA Championship. 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 .
Xterra / Courtesy photo

And if the local racing series is any indicator, Middaugh may soon have rivals from his own family on his heels.

Sullivan Middaugh skipped the Xterra Ogden event to compete in his high school cross country competition, but if the local mountain bike series is any indicator, Middaugh’s toughest competition in the country could soon come from his son from 17 years.

In 2017, at age 13, Sullivan surprised everyone by winning the Xterra Sprint event at Beaver Creek, the shortest of the Xterra events. Her father won the main event. The following year, Sullivan won the Xterra sprint again at the age of 14.

In June, a steady cast of local pros took to the streets of Vail in one of Colorado’s longest mountain bike races, the Davos Dash. Jake Wells, national cyclocross champion since 2018, and Cristhian Ravelo, member of the professional road racing team CS Velo, both competed and both chased Josiah Middaugh.

But it’s Sullivan Middaugh, now 17, who would finish second at Davos Dash this year, just behind Josiah in the first-ever father-son sweep of the 39-year-old race.

Josiah said he’s not sure Sullivan will compete in the Xterra World Championship this year, but Josiah said he certainly plans to do so.

This is happening in December, in Hawaii, which could mean the water could be more choppy than usual. The legendary Xterra World Championship usually takes place at the end of October.

The extended period will make training difficult, Middaugh said, as Eagle County slips into winter and mountain biking is not that easy this time of year. Many trails are not open although the snow has not yet started to fall.

But with just three races this season, Middaugh said the extra time could also give him a chance to get into the race. With the pandemic restricting the movement of many competitors, Middaugh said there could be athletes in Hawaii who did not compete in events like the U.S. Championships on Saturday. Wild cards, so to speak.

This will be the 25th Xterra World Championship, scheduled for December 5th.

“It’s going to be unpredictable for sure,” Middaugh said.


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