OGDEN, Utah — Josiah Middaugh didn’t beat his new rival Mauricio Mendez, but he did race well enough for the Xterra Pan American Tour overall win at the championship race on Saturday, Sept. 16.
Middaugh, of Eagle-Vail, was the Xterra World Champion in 2015, which is about the highest honor an off-road triathlon racer can receive these days. In 2016 he lost the title to Mendez, but earlier this year Middaugh was able to take down the Mexican world champion at the Xterra race in Beaver Creek.
As the Xterra circuit shifted into different tour-style disciplines in recent years, the Pan American Tour was created, and Saturday’s race in Ogden was a culmination of a series of off-road triathlons spanning South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada and the U.S.
With $80,000 at stake, Saturday’s race was one of the true marquee events of any off-road triathlon race. Fortunately for Middaugh, he did not need to beat Mendez for the overall tour win, simply fellow Colorado resident Branden Rakita.
“Mauricio was out in front from the get go and he put an attack early on the bike and you know I did everything I could to try to reel him back in but I just wasn’t making back the time very quick,” Middaugh said, who exited the water about 1:40 behind Mendez. “I was pushing hard but not making the time. Hats off to him, he was riding really strong and had just a killer pace up that climb and it was everything I could do to just keep it close.”
Middaugh posted the fastest bike split of the day (1:24:37), but couldn’t catch the 21-year-old world champion.
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