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Mendez, Baca win XTERRA Chile

Press Release / 21.03.2018

2016 XTERRA World Champion Mauricio Mendez from Mexico and Allison Baca (formerly Linnell) from the U.S. captured the 2nd annual XTERRA Chile off-road triathlon elite titles Sunday, March 18, at San Bernardo with winning times of 2:16:31 and 2:52:36, respectively.

It's the sixth career XTERRA championship title for Mendez, who is also the reigning XTERRA Pan America Champ. For Baca, its her first big win and it was just her second-ever XTERRA (she finished second to Kara LaPoint at XTERRA Fruita in her inaugural XTERRA last season).

In the men's race, it was Mendez from wire-to-wire as he posted the fastest swim-bike-and-run times of the day. "I'm happy for how it went today and excited to start my 2018 season like this," said the 22-year-old phenom from Mexico City who finished second at last year's XTERRA World Championship. "The event was incredible, the course is amazing, and I'm so appreciative for the opportunity to participate in XTERRA races like this around the world. I'm really going for the World Championship this year, so this is a good start, and I look forward to the rest of the season."

With Mendez out in front early it became a race for second right away. Last year's Pan Am Tour runner-up Branden Rakita had the early edge, as he swam on the heels of Mendez and did his best to stay connected on the bike. "I was sitting on Mau's feet during the swim, playing it smart," said Rakita. "I exited T1 with him and worked with him through the first 7k in the vineyards, but as soon as we hit the first hill he floated up it, and just took off from there and continued to put time on everybody."

It wasn't until the second of three big climbs on the bike when the Kiwi, Kieran McPherson, caught up to Rakita. "As soon as he caught me I tried to go with him, but he pulled away fast," said Rakita. "From there it was just about racing smart and focusing on keeping hold of third position."

McPherson, the reigning XTERRA Thailand Champ, had visions of closing in on Mendez but never did pull within striking distance. "I caught Branden after the first climb, but Mauricio had got away," explained McPherson. "After the bike I had a good lead on Branden, but Mau was three minutes away."

As for the venue, McPherson said, "The course is beautiful.  Its at an awesome private lake with great facilities all around. The mountain bike course is incredible. The climbs are very steep, very hard, and the descents are technical and fun. On the run, it starts flat and you feel like you are flying and then you get to that first big climb and wonder where your legs have gone. It's a tough run. All in all, happy with today.  Now it's on to Argentina to race next week, and hopefully I can win over there."

Argentina's Maxi Morales finished fourth, Brazils' Rafael Juriti was fifth and local favorite Gustavo Torres placed sixth and was the home country champ.

Pl     Name, Country             Pts     Final         Swim         Bike         Run         Purse
1     Mauricio Mendez, MEX         75     02:16:31     00:16:36     01:22:44     00:36:09     $1200
2     Kieran McPherson, NZL         67     02:20:31     00:18:19     01:23:45     00:37:18     $900
3     Branden Rakita, USA         61     02:26:25     00:16:39     01:27:41     00:40:38     $700
4     Maximiliano Morales, ARG     56     02:27:42     00:18:56     01:26:26     00:40:48     $550
5     Rafael Juriti, BRA         51     02:34:41     00:19:42     01:28:20     00:44:50     $400
6     Gustavo Torres, CHI         47     03:19:30     00:22:21     01:52:46     01:00:15     

The women's race was a whole lot more exciting, as Baca and former Olympian Fabiola Corona from Mexico played cat-and-mouse all morning.

Corona was first out of the water but not by much, and the two headed out on to the bike together. "It was so hard," said Baca, who fractured her patella last summer doing a backflip off a rope swing but is all healed up now. "I was battling with Fabiola on the bike all day. I would pass her on the climbs and then on the descents she would blow past me. We traded the lead a lot, and I was trying so hard to stay with her. We left on the run almost together, and I passed her shortly into it and went as hard as I could. I hadn't pre-run the course and didn't realize how hard it was with three really hard climbs. I had to stop and walk a lot."

Baca, who back in September married Tony Baca – a national mountain biking champ and coach from Mexico – said she's excited to be racing XTERRA. "Tony has been helping me learn to mountain bike to prepare for XTERRA, and I'm still trying to convince him to race too," she said.

Baca went on to post the fastest run of the day to finish more than five-minutes ahead of Corona. With the win she takes the early lead in the 12-stop XTERRA Pan America Tour standings, and will look to add on to that at next week's XTERRA Argentina Championship race. "This race in Chile was one of the most beautiful races I've ever done, also one of the hardest. And I did not expect to win so that was an amazing surprise," said Baca. "I've had such a blast here in Chile enjoying the views and the mountains. It was great organization, great crew. I'm so excited to come back next year and looking forward to racing in Argentina next week too."

Carolina Nieva, who won the 25-29 division XTERRA World Championship last year, placed third in her first race as a pro, while Anne-Sophie Marechal from Belgium finished fourth.
Pl     Name, Country             Pts     Finish         Swim         Bike         Run         Purse
1     Alisson Baca, USA         75     02:52:36     00:19:46     01:43:12     00:46:57     $1,200
2     Fabiola Corona, MEX         67     02:58:07     00:19:38     01:43:55     00:52:41     $900
3     Carolina Nieva, ARG         61     03:02:32     00:24:22     01:46:33     00:49:38     $700
4     Anne-Sophie Marechal, BEL     56     03:18:56     00:24:53     01:59:38     00:52:22     $550

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