With wins in 2015 and 2017, Josiah Middaugh was back to defend his title at the 10th stop on the Pan Am Tour – XTERRA Mexico – lining up alongside a top notch field that included the top 5 overall in the Pan Am Tour standings.
Racing in the event for his 4th year in a row, Middaugh said “XTERRA Mexico is a unique venue, about 2 hours outside of Guadalajara, up in the hills. It is a very rural race through ranch lands. The town of Tapalpa goes all out for the race with a post-race festival and a firework show. The variety of courses and unique venues of XTERRA is what keeps me coming back.”
Following an admittedly ‘atrocious swim’, Middaugh started the bike with a sizeable gap, more than he typically has to attempt to reel back in. Going ‘all in’ on the bike-run to whittle away his deficit out of the water Middaugh said “I exited the water further back than anticipated, so I knew I had a lot of work to do on the bike. We had two big climbs on the bike and finally towards the end of the second climb I caught Karsten Madsen and saw a leading group of 4 up the road. With two miles to go I bridged the gap and tried to get a small gap going into transition, but slid out in a corner and went down hard. It was a good wake-up call.”
Laying down a monster effort on the bike, Middaugh road a 1:21:35 for the fastest bike split on the day, setting himself up to make a move on the run to outdistance his competitors.
With Middaugh, Branden Rakita, Kieran McPherson, and Francisco Serrano all entering T2 together, XTERRA Mexico came down to a foot race with the top 3 within 49 seconds of one another. “I decided to try to run from the front for as long as I could and after the first 5k lap I had about 10-15 seconds on Kieran, 30 seconds on Francisco with Branden running in 4th.”
Middaugh was able to maintain his advantage to break the tape in 2:25:04, 18 seconds ahead of McPherson and 49 seconds ahead of Karsten Madsen who charged from 5th position off the bike to claim 3rd with Serrano and Rakita finishing 4th and 5th respectively. “I pressed as hard as I could all the way through, negative splitting the second lap, but Kieran stayed close all the way to the finish.”
“There are so many dynamics in an XTERRA race so I never know for sure how I will feel when I get to the run. The only way to have a chance is to completely torch the legs on the bike, put myself in position, and empty the tank on the run.”
Notching his third win in the Pan Am series and moving up to 3rd overall, Middaugh said “After being run down by Kieran in Victoria, Canada one month prior, it felt good to stay strong to the finish line in Mexico.”
August 4, 2018
1. Josiah Middaugh 2:25:04
2. Kieran McPherson 2:25:22
3. Karsten Madsen 2:25:53
4. Francisco Serrano 2:26:59
5. Branden Rakita 2:31:35