PC: Jesse Peters, XTERRA

Perennial XTERRA athlete, Branden Rakita, cinched the XTERRA US Elite title as the first American and 3rd overall at the XTERRA Pan American Championships race held last Saturday at Snowbasin, Utah.

The two preceding months leading into the championship race were action packed for Rakita. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since July – I raced XTERRA Victoria, XTERRA Quebec and then XTERRA Beaver Creek, had a week off of racing and then I was off to XTERRA Mexico before a week of prep and then I got married the week after! Two weeks later we headed out for XTERRA Dominican Republic and Bri and I treated that as a mini race-moon but then immediately headed to Utah for XTERRA Pan Am Championships. Training had been going very well and I’ve been on an emotional high with the wedding and was excited to race Pan Am Champs knowing that I was very capable of a good result.”

The days leading into the championship race were very warm which led to a non-wetsuit swim. Typically at or towards the front of the XTERRA field on the swim, Rakita said “I was looking to set a fast pace to gain as much advantage as possible. The good news was that Sam Osborne wanted to push the pace as well so I was able to sit in his draft and let him do the work but it was not easy to hold his feet.”

Exiting the water right behind Osborne, Rakita showed his experience and understanding of just how difficult the high elevation Snowbasin bike and run course is, and resisted pushing too hard in the early miles. Rakita explained “Once on the bike, as much as I wanted to just sit on Sam or Karsten Madsen’s wheel, they were just a bit too strong and I had to ride my own race but keep the gap as small as possible. When Mike Meehan and Dean Cane caught me about 5 miles in, they were really pushing the bottom of the climb and slowly crept away from me. I remained focused riding my own race and continued fueling with EFS Pro and Liquid Shot and taking advantage of my course knowledge as much as possible. I caught Mike on the last downhill and we came into transition together in 4th and 5th, though he was very quick out of transition.”

Starting the run just behind Meehan, Rakita said

“I had to stay controlled up the first climb and take the last bit of fuel from my EFS Liquid Shot and after that I was able to really get the legs turning over on the rocky sections with tricky footing.”

“I was quickly closing the gap to Mike and just kept the pressure on. Dean was struggling a bit and I caught him right after I passed Mike and made sure to keep the pace high so they didn’t have hopes of catching me. I kept my focus and tried not to think about the fast runners that were behind me. I kept charging hard till the last 3/4’s of a mile when I finally knew that no one was going to be coming back to me and I was really able to enjoy crossing the line.”  With the 2nd fastest swim, 6th best bike and gutsy 5th quickest run, Rakita finished 3rd in the Pan American Championships race but as the first American to cross the line, he was crowned the XTERRA US Champion. Thrilled with his performance, Rakita said

“This is an absolute dream to win the XTERRA USA Championship, it has been a goal of mine since I started racing XTERRA.”

“This is an extremely difficult race to win and to get the victory this year was no different – I had to dig really deep and stay mentally positive throughout the entire race.”

PC:Jesse Peters, XTERRA

XTERRA Pan American Championships
Snow Basin, Utah
September 7, 2019

1 Sam Osborne 2:28:38
2 Karsten Madsen 2:32:06
3 Branden Rakita 2:34:23
4 Mike Meehan 2:36:19
5 Brian Smith 2:37:15
6 Chad Hall 2:37:43
7 Dean Cane 2:41:03
8 Ryan Ignatz 2:42:18
9 Trevor Wurtele 2:44:07
10 Evan Pardi 2:45:14