Snowbasin Resort • Costa Rica's Leonardo Chacon wasn't the most experienced competitor in the XTERRA USA Championship here Saturday.
Only the best.
Chacon completed the off-road triathlon in 2 hours, 32 minutes, 31 seconds including the fastest run split at 39:57 to outdistance a star-studded field in the final XTERRA tour event of the season held in the Wasatch Mountains above Ogden.
XTERRA winds up here Sunday with the Trail Run National Championship (9 a.m.).
To make up for his relative lack of off-road experience, he trained in the mountains of Costa Rica. In particular, he found a trail that matched the elevation levels of Snowbasin (start at 4,900 feet above sea level, and reaching a peak of 7,300 feet).
"I've been training for this many months, like five to six months, improving my techniques," said Chacon, 29. "Now I'm very happy I can be with these fast guys up there."
He came out of the swim just seconds behind Australia's Ben Allen and had the lead for the first half of the bike leg. XTERRA veterans Conrad Stoltz of South Africa and American Josiah Middaugh (Vail, Colo.) eventually passed Chacon in the second half of the bike. At that point of the race, Chacon said he was content just to stay within sight of Stoltz and Middaugh.
"I knew I could run a bit faster than them, and I attacked," he said of his run split.
Middaugh finished in 2:33:26, and his second-place showing was enough to net him the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series championship – his first in 10 years on the tour. "It's been a long pursuit for this title," he said. "Glad it finally worked out."
Chacon and Middaugh were shoulder-to-shoulder midway through the run course before Chacon eventually turned it up in the final two miles and took the win by 57 seconds.
Spain's Ruben Ruzafa another of the international stars to show up at Snowbasin this year finished third in the USA Championship (2:33.55). It was his first time racing at the USA Championship and just his second appearance in an XTERRA race in the United States.