Vine snares national off-road tri championship
Judging by the number of races Xterra pro triathletes Mike Vine and Danelle Kabush have slain in the Bow Valley, to find both battling it out with the best in the country was no surprise.
Both used homefield knowledge to reach the podium at the Canadian National Xterra Triathlon Championships on Sunday (Sept. 2), qualifying for the world championship race in Hawaii.
Vine won the men’s division, which challenges off-road athletes with a 1,500 metre swim at Quarry Lake, 22 kilometre mountain bike through the Nordic Centre’s twisting single track and a 10 km trail run.
“I felt really comfortable on the trails. This was my first Xterra race of the season, so it’s a pleasant surprise,” Vine said.
Vine was sixth after the swim, but relied on strong technical mountain bike skills to overtake Colorado’s Branden Rakita halfway through the course and seize the lead.
“I could tell I had good legs on the bike. I was climbing well and descending well, I think,” Vine said.
He’s spent more time racing his mountain bike and pushed himself with a four-week swim course before the race in order to prepare for the course, aware that the bike would be key to his success.
“On this course, the bike is a challenging ride. There’s a lot of up and down. After that, the run feels easy. It flows well and is twisty through the trees,” Vine said.
The strategy worked, as he finished five minutes ahead of Rakita, who said he’s used to racing in dry conditions in his hometown of Colorado.
“I had three minutes on Mike after the swim. The first lap I didn’t ride that well, but by the second, the course dried out a lot.
Rakita was one of a handful of the top Xterra athletes in the world who showed up for the event, chasing $10,000 in prize money and qualifying spots for Hawaii.
Melanie McQuaid retained her Canadian title, holding off a late push by hometown favourite Kabush. She finished the course in 2:39.20, stopping before the finish line to cheer on her fellow competitors.
“Getting the win feels good. Defending the title is always hard and this was a strong field,” McQuaid said.
She won the 2011 title in Whistler and found the Canmore course much more difficult.
“I was tasting blood the whole day. This is the hardest Xterra course we’ve ever had,” McQuaid said.
While the men praised the flow of the run course, the women found the opposite.
“The bike was easier than the run. The run had no momentum or flow,” McQuaid said. “I didn’t know how long it was out and back.”
She’s off to the 70.3 Triathlon championships this weekend.
Kabush gained ground on the mountain bike and the run, but couldn’t catch McQuaid, finishing with a time of 2:40:28, just over a minute behind first place. She made up three minutes on the bike and two minutes on the run on McQuaid.
“I was going hard on the bike to try and stay with Renata (Bucher) because I knew I could pass her on the run. My biggest advantage is the fact I’ve raced this mountain bike loop 12 times this year. By the time I got to the run, Mcquaid had a three minute lead. It was possible to catch her but tough. I almost sprained my ankle three times on the run,” Kabush said.
Several Bow Valley Athletes performed admirably on the day. Heath McCroy won the 40-44 age category and finished 12th overall (2:45.10), followed by Darren Robinson (2:50:20). John Monk also won his age category (50-54) with a time of 2:50:49.19, Kyle Mclaughlin stopped the clock at 2:52:59 and John Groeneveld finished at 3:12:45.37.
Adam Teasdale won the sport category (1:12:57), followed by Kyle Flatman (1:15:07) and Stephen Buijs (1:19:59).
Lori-Lynn Tovey was the top female finisher (1:21:49), followed by Canmore’s Daniela Krtickova 1:27:38.
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