Press and Media Center
Meet the World Champs, Part 1
In the coming weeks we'll introduce you to the 2011 class of XTERRA World Champions in each division, here are a few to get started...
John Stover (70+ Division) Jackson, Michigan – 4:37:55
John Stover (pictured right with Ron Hill to his left and Nat Grew to his right) picked up his second XTERRA World Title on Sunday, and first since winning the 65+ division in 2006 when he crashed on the bike early and broke his wrist. The retired veterinarian, who swam at Ohio State, said he’s not too old for this and figures “there’ll be plenty of time to rest once I’m dead!”
Stover, who had the fastest swim, bike, and run splits on the day, credits Old Timer’s Disease for his success. “By the time my legs could get the message to my brain that they were tired and going to quit--I'd already forgot it.”
Here he talks about his day…
“Was a real washing machine at the first buoy and I never got out of harm’s way until the second lap. Bike was brutal-thank you; I needed that to keep everyone crawling on the run. Stopped couple times for breather and water cause there's no way to take your hands off the wheel while on the bike. Only fell once bad -got a couple raspberries on my hip and shoulder- seems the bike wanted to go straight and I was turning. Thankfully new course is safer with much less rock; still every bit as demanding. I walked the more severe hills as did everyone else in my age group so stayed in front. In a road tri, everyone except me can run off the bike. Here everyone is so whipped after the bike they have to "crawl" up the hills so that evens the field because that's about all I can do fresh!
Stover, who came over with his wife, daughter, and her friend, celebrated by racing from the awards ceremony to the airport for a 10:30pm flight… “thanks for recognizing the old guys first,” he said.
Sue Lambert (45-49 Division) Anchorage, Alaska – 3:30:42
Sunday’s race had special meaning for Sue Lambert, a lawyer by trade but foremost a mother of four. It was her first XTERRA World Championship, and she was racing in honor of a friend, “a girl I used to coach in soccer,” explained Lambert.
“She is 20-years-old and two months ago was diagnosed with 4th stage lung cancer. Once I heard Lance Armstrong was going to be in Maui, I bought a 'Live Strong" shirt and carried it around in Maui, with a Sharpie, just in case I had the good fortune of running into Lance. I didn't, and didn't even see him on the beach as we were readying to start. However, as I suffered through the run, I thought of this young girl and what she is suffering through, putting what I was feeling into perspective, which helped a lot. The Monday night, having supper before heading to the airport, I met a fellow named Ted King, a pro cyclist who knows Lance and who has raced in the Tour de France. We talked a bit and then he signed the shirt for this girl which was so great... I didn't go home empty handed.”
Lambert (pictured in the middle below), a water polo player for 15 years, used those water combat skills to jump to an early lead – posting the best swim in her division by more than three minutes. She followed that with the second best bike and a run fast enough to win her division by nearly 10 minutes.
“It still hasn't really sunk in. I really wasn't thinking I would win. My aim was to be first out of the water and then not last in my age group!” said Lambert, who got to share the victory with her 14-year-old son.
“The race was AMAZING. The venue was gorgeous. The bike route could have been a bit more technical, but as an avid hill climber, I loved it. The whole event was just overwhelming. Seeing the video after blows me away to think that I was part of that whole experience. I completely tore my ACL just over a year ago, and didn't have it repaired. My doctor and physio have no idea I've done this... they will be amazed, I think, and very proud. That's my story. I will never forget this XTERRA, no matter how many more I do.”
Mark Geoghegan (45 -49 Division) Honolulu, Hawaii by way of Australia – 2:50:17
Mark Geoghegan (pictured in the middle above), a structural engineer, won the 45-49 division for the second straight year, was Hawaii’s top finisher (58th overall), and placed second in the Hawaiian Airlines "Double" competition with a combined 12:13:55 (9:23:38 at Ironman Hawaii World Champs and 2:50:17 at XTERRA Worlds).
Geoghegan had the fastest bike and run splits but did not know he had taken the lead in his division at any point during the race.
“A few minutes after T2, on the run, I passed Andy Duenow (same AG) and as I passed him he asked "Are you Mark?", I answered, and asked his name, not knowing where I was in my AG field. I kept running and passing athletes on the run checking out their calf-markings and after about 15 minutes into the run I had not seen a M45-49 athlete, so I thought I was possibly in the lead, but I did not know until I picked up my race results card, about 5 minutes after crossing the finish line. Anxious but good feeling picking up that card.”
The madness of XTERRA Worlds started earlier in the week for Geoghegan, with some serious pre-race bike issues.
“Craziness began for me on Friday afternoon - took out my MTB for a spin on the practice course, and about 5 miles into the ride I heard a crack, and the rear triangle of my full-suspension Litespeed bike dropped several inches - I had fractured the vertical tube that connects near the bottom bracket. Rode the busted bike back to the XTERRA expo and rented a bike for Sunday's race. It was a hardtail - last rental bike left! On Sunday's race, I got to the first downhill section, about 15 minutes in the bike leg, and ate the dirt/rocks - big time - stupid operator error - razzed up my shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. Fast-forward to today, I just got back from the doctor's office and have an infection around my ankle wounds - not ideal for training for my upcoming Ironman Western Australia race in less than 6 weeks. Such is life!”
Geoghegan started racing XTERRA Worlds in 2005, as part of the Triple Worlds - ITU AG Worlds in Honolulu, then 1 week later IM Kona, then 1 week later XTERRA Maui. He got hooked on XTERRA that year, and has raced Maui Worlds continuously since.
“Feels great to win, especially to repeat it from 2010 - but like any race, post-race you review your performance and see where you can improve - got to always be thinking of those fast but aging M40-44 athletes who will be entering my AG very soon - keeps me motivated to better my race performances,” said Geoghegan, who celebrated with a glass of wine poolside with his wife Felice.
Dave Maclean (50-54 Division) Ludington, Michigan – 3:02:36
With the reigning and two-time 50-54 division XTERRA World Champ Tom Monica from California not in the race this year a new champion was assured. The pre-race favorite among the 45 contestants had to be Casey Fannin, the 2009 45-49 XTERRA World Champ. Fannin looked good early, coming out of the water just 36 seconds behind Bernd Sauter, and then nailed the best bike split in the division, a 1:43:16 that had him out on the run with the lead. Little did he know, however, that lurking behind him was a Maui first-timer – Dave Maclean.
“My event strengths from weakest to strongest are swim, bike, and run so I thought that if I could be somewhat close to the leaders at the end of the bike I stood a pretty good chance of winning,” said Maclean.
While he was three minutes behind in the swim, Maclean had the second-best bike split at 1:43:29 that put him within striking distance of Fannin.
“At the start of the run, my wife Kathy informed me that I was two minutes down on the leader. At that point I felt pretty good and figured I could make up that time without much trouble. Well, just over a mile into the run I found trouble in the form of a leg cramp. I stood along the course for what seemed like forever trying to get rid of the cramp. When I finally got going again I figure that I had lost 2 - 3 minutes, a time I wasn't sure I would be able to make up. The leg felt good and I pushed hard until I caught up with the leader with about 1/2 mile to go. Once past I was able to put a decent gap on him and as I crossed the finish line there was still a small doubt in my mind that there may have been someone else in my age group ahead of me. I didn't really sink in that I had won until a friend sent me a text message showing the results. I was pretty emotional,” said Maclean, who celebrated “at the awards dinner and the crazy Halloween party that followed.”
Tamara Tabeek (50-54 Division) San Diego, California – 3:29:04
Tamara Tabeek had perhaps the most daunting task of any age group competitor. She, along with the rest of the 50-54 women’s field, was up against Beverly Enslow – the hottest age grouper in Maui. Enslow had won four straight in the 50-54 division since 2007, and was fresh off her 6th straight USA Championship and 10th regional crown.
Luckily for Tabeek, she keeps the company of brave heart warriors. Her XTERRA travel partners are Jessica Noyola and XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson, who affectionately refer to Tamara as “Mama Bear.”
“I come from 20 years of bike racing and Les got me into triathlon. I taught her how to mountain bike so it only seems fair that she taught me about triathlon, or should I say XTERRA!”
The day started off well Tabeek, a regional sales manager for a packaging company in San Diego, and just got better. She was second out of the water, nearly two minutes ahead of Enslow, then had the fastest bike split to take the lead and second-best run for a winning time of 3:29:04, more than five minutes ahead of Enslow in 2nd.
“I hold two other World titles in downhill mountain bike racing however the XTERRA title feels very different for me....very special.”
It didn’t come easy… “About 5 minutes into the single track of the mountain bike I cut a corner close and ended up getting majorly 'stabbed' in the lip which resulted in a bleeding fat lip. Didn’t really phase me though as I was on a mission,” said Tabeek, who give high praise to the new course in Kapalua.
“I thought it was awesome. The swim had a degree of unpredictability as it could have been rough or smooth on race day so you had to prepare yourself mentally for either. It wasn't just a calm bay setting, it was what a swim course should be like. The mountain bike course was more like a "real" race course with some single track that kept you on your toes along with some climbing and of course downhill. Mountain bike racing should not be ALL about climbing with a short decent at the end. A "pure" mountain bike rider would say this course passed with "flying colors!” And the run was awesome, very difficult like a true cross country course having to jump over logs and climb up rocks....outstanding!”
Bruce Wacker (65-69 Division) Colorado Springs, Colo. – 3:33:27
Seven-time XTERRA World Champ Peter Wood had won the last three 65-69 championship titles, but he never got within sight of Bruce Wacker at this year’s XTERRA World Championship.
Wacker, fresh off his USA Championship victory last month in Utah, crushed the swim with a 34:03 split that was more than five minutes faster than anyone else in the division, then had the best bike and run splits to come home in 3:33:27, more than 14 minutes ahead of Wood.
“I had a good run, I like the new courses – they are cooler and suit my strengths,” said Wacker, who overcame a shattered femur two years ago at 63, after which the first doc he saw said he’d never do another triathlon. Wacker also won the 2008 XTERRA World title in the 60-64 division.
“I’m retired, so just like to train and enjoy life.”
Cal Zaryski (40-44 Division) Calgary, Canada – 2:39:28
He started the day feeling sluggish, but ended up winning his fourth world title.
Cal Zaryski, aka “Coach Cal”, is a professional coach and exercise physiologist and also the President of XTERRA Canada. His last hurdle to the title turned out to be Canadian teammate Simon Pulfrey, who he pulled past with about five miles to go on the bike. We caught up with Cal and asked him a few questions:
XTERRA: When did you know you were a World Champion?
Cal Zaryski: As soon as I reached the highest part of the run course, I knew I was running well (I was passing many Pros). I felt great and had no muscle cramping. I knew all I needed to do is keep running but I wanted to see how fast I could go and kept pushing. I kept catching more and more runners ahead of me and my focus was top 3 amateurs.... I missed it by one. Not bad for a 43 year old. I finally had a run like years of old. This year my mountain biking has been really strong... stronger than years past.
XT: When did you have to dig the deepest?
CZ: The hardest part is often the few days leading up to the race... with all the anxiety about the race, in particular the swim start. But the most Hurt was experienced on a few of those run hills. It was so hot and the terrain was so punishing. Those who won on Sunday had to have executed the right fueling and hydration strategy along with superior fitness.... Bottom line! Missing any of those components would have been disastrous.
XT:What was the craziest thing that happened on Sunday?
CZ: Early into the technical sandy single track, one of the cyclist fell back onto me and onto my bike. I thought he ruined my front wheel. I got lucky.
XT: How many times have you raced at XTERRA Worlds?
CZ: Eight times ... of those eight I have been in the top 5 overall amateur 6X and top 10 all 8 races. My preparation for this event is like my personal Olympics. I do not want to have any excuses other than the athletes who beat me were just better than me when I am prepared. There should be no "I wish I would have, or wish I had some that". Diet, sleep, training, low stress, avoid illness and equipment is all dialed in.
XT: How does it feel to be a World Champ?
CZ: This victory is my best performance in all 8 World Championship races. Finishing that close to the Pro winners (2.29 from Lance Armstrong), 28th overall in the deepest Pro Field ever was amazing. I have not slowed down one bit in my 40s! Last year’s victory was more of a struggle when I was racing on 2 cracked ribs, and a partially torn hamstring. But with my fitness so peaked for late Oct, I was able to pull it off still. Simon was second last year as well, but I had to run him down last year and caught him at mile 3. This year I made my move on the bike and ran away from him. I think Simon struggles in the heat... I seem to be good in the heat.
XT: How did you celebrate?
CZ: We went to the awards then were so tired we went home to bed. Our celebration is just staying in Maui another week... hee!
Barbara Peterson (55-59 Division) Berkeley, Calif. – 3:56:52
Barbara Peterson is back on top, winning her sixth XTERRA World Title in 11 tries and first since capturing the 50-54 crown in 2006.
Peterson came out of the swim nearly five minutes behind the reigning 55-59 champ, Beverly Watson from Canada, but put together the fastest bike and run split (by far) for a winning time of 3:56:52.
“It feels absolutely fantastic to be a World Champ,” said Peterson. “I have another level of personal confidence, happiness to the core, and inspiration to do others things champion-style.”
The writer, motivational speaker, and sports psychologist from Berkeley took the lead at the beginning of the run just as the climb got serious but didn’t know for sure she was the champ until she looked at her timing card.
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