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McPherson, Baker win XTERRA Victoria

Press Release / Photo : Xterra / 09.07.2018

Podium placings in Victoria

Kieran McPherson and Julie Baker captured the XTERRA Victoria off-road triathlon elite titles on a beautiful day at Durrance Lake in British Columbia, Canada on Sunday, July 8, 2018.

It’s the third win on the 2108 XTERRA Pan America Tour this season for McPherson, and for Baker, her second big win on the XTERRA World Tour since turning pro in 2016.

In the men’s race XTERRA veteran Brent McMahon was first out of the water, with Branden Rakita and Ian King right behind.  McPherson and Josiah Middaugh were a little more than two minutes behind the lead swimmers but posted the best bike splits of the day to move into the lead on the second leg.

“It was a tough course to ride without good course knowledge,” said Middaugh.  “I knew it was a risk arriving late, but I still put myself in a good position to go for the win. I swam with Kieran and biked the first lap with him. When we caught Branden I put a small gap on him, but he stayed close. Branden was also riding well and after blowing through a corner I found myself behind again and playing catch up. I came into T2 with a few seconds on Branden and a little more time to Kieran. I thought it was enough of a gap to hold off Kieran, but he was charging and I didn’t have enough of a response.”

McPherson, who crashed hard on the bike and didn’t finish this race last year, proved once again that his run split is top of class on the XTERRA Pan Am Tour.  He blitzed the run in 37:24, nearly two-minutes better than Middaugh to take the tape in 2:06:03, 37-seconds ahead of Josiah.

Rakita finished strong in third, with McMahon in fourth and Will Ross edged out Alex Roberts and Will Kelsay by less than 30-seconds to take the fifth spot.

Baker Leads The Way in the Women's Race

In the women’s race Suzie Snyder celebrated her return to the dirt with the fastest swim split among elite women, but Fabiola Corona, Melanie McQuaid, and Baker all posted times within five seconds of the standard set by Snyder.

On to the bike it was three-time XTERRA World Champion Melanie McQuaid doing what she does best, throwing down the fastest ride of the day in 1:17:08.  The race, however, was decided on the run, with Baker posted the quickest split of day to pass McQuaid and take the tape in 2:32:52, nearly two-minutes ahead.

“Julie outclassed me on the downhill running,” said McQuaid, who wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to race today having nursed a cold the past week or so.  “Victoria has the gnarliest run and technical trail running is my weakness for sure right now.  Julie caught me on the downhill at the end of the first lap of the run and I almost caught her again by the top of the climb on the second lap but it was way too little too late as there was no chance of me keeping up with her downhill and I shut it right down to stay safe to the finish.  I am definitely rusty for my XTERRA-ing on this technical course but I was pleased to be somewhat in the mix regardless.”

McQuaid, who announced this race last year as she was focusing on road tri, said she was happy to see such a strong and deep elite field for XTERRA Victoria.

“It was so fun, and it was really great to have such a big field come to my hometown.  I was super proud of Kate Button having such a strong showing after a month of walk run on a sprained ankle too so it is great to get two Canadians up there on the podium in the women's race and to have fellow IM-focused pro Brent McMahon up there in the men's in fourth.  Good to be back. Although I am only doing IM training until Sept 9 in Wisconsin, I will try to sharpen my off-road skills to be somewhat a contender later this year.”

As for Baker, she said, "I rode most of the bike by myself and I had no idea where Melanie was until I saw her coming around from transition as I was going in. I caught her just starting down the hill on the first run lap. Felt pretty good today and even enjoyed the techy run course!"

Pan Am Tour leader Fabiola Corona finished in third, Suzie Snyder had a great season-opener to place fourth, and Katie Button rounded out the top five.

Here Corona recaps her day: “I felt very good swimming, my strategy was to swim fast and try to be in the first group. It worked and I was able to follow Suzie until T1. My best discipline is transitions, so I try to do an ITU-style T1. With that I was first until the uphill where Baker passed me, then McQuaid. I caught Baker on the downhill but then she flew by me shortly after. I love this venue, the technical parts and the forest.  Button pass me and in the last uphill Snyder also. I followed her and did T2 faster. In my head and heart was to catch Button and take the bronze. The battle with Snyder was tough. She passed me in the first loop, then I had my second breathe on the second loop, I saw her close and Button a few meters later, so I took a gel full of caffeine to help me push hard. I really want that podium, so I fought until the end to conserve the position. I am super happy and looking forward to Beaver Creek!”

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