XTERRA Midwest Cup in Battle Creek Michigan

Melanie McQuaid celebrated her 36th birthday in style by joining fellow 3x XTERRA World Champ Conrad Stoltz on the top step of the XTERRA Midwest Cup podium at Fort Custer State Park just outside of Battle Creek, Michigan on Sunday.

Conrad Stoltz, winner of the men's pro division of the 2009 Midwest Cup, pictured here at 2008 West Championship.  Copyright: Nils Nilsen/TEAM Unlimited 2008Stoltz and McQuaid are now 2-for-2 in XTERRA Cup Series racing, as both captured the first race of the year at Lake Las Vegas, Nevada earlier this month. The duo, along with a few dozen other traveling XTERRA pros, will make their way to Shelby County, Alabama for race No. 3, the XTERRA Southeast Cup this Saturday (May 23).

“The community here totally embraced this event, and it was like XTERRA old school with everyone hanging out together along with the whole town,” said McQuaid. “The course is fabulous, Battle Creek wins top honors for total friendliness, I had the home stay of the century, the bike store (Team Active) rolled out the red carpet, and it was all-in-all just an awesome experience.”

For more on the race, here’s the managing director of the XTERRA World Tour, “Kahuna Dave” Nicholas...

The return for XTERRA to the Midwest was greeted this Sunday morning with 30-degree temperatures and ice in the shallow water. It was COLD. Water temp was 62 at the turn buoys and we were all warned the night would bring cold weather, but below freezing was a bit more than predicted.

By the 8am race start the sky was brighter and the temps were up into the 50’s. The pro’s got a 30-second head start on the age group mass start on a two-lap 500-meter per lap swim.

Just 13 minutes later a hot pack led by Craig Evans, Conrad Stoltz, Seth Wealing and Christine Jeffrey popped on shore and headed out into the sweet trails of Fort Custer State Park. A great place to bike with mature trails, twists and turns, water crossings, tree trunks across the trails and fast and tacky conditions from the light rains the day before. Stoltz got on his big horse and simply pedaled away from the pack. Hugo started giving Stoltz’ something to worry about on the first lap. “I kept looking back and Dan was still there and even closing a bit,” Stoltz remembered. “Then he suddenly was gone and I thought he hit a tree”. It was not a tree, but the fact that Hugo lost a contact lens and was having depth perception troubles.

Melanie McQuaid, winner of the women's pro division of the 2009 Midwest Cup, pictured here at 2008 West Championship.  Copyright: Nils Nilsen/TEAM Unlimited 2008On the women’s side, McQuaid came out of the water a minute and a half behind Jeffrey, but a very quick T1 and fast riding put her up and out in front as quickly as Stoltz.

Behind the two victors there was some very serious and close racing. At the end of lap one Hugo was still close to Conrad, Josiah Middaugh was coming up fast and Mike Vine had pulled up into 4th with Nico Lebrun coming quickly. On the women’s side Jeffrey was a fine second but Swiss Miss Renata Bucher had moved up to third, Shonny Vanlandingham 4th with Jen Smith posting the fastest women’s bike time pushing hard.

Things continued to shake up as they headed out on the run. Shonny consolidated 4th and Renata and Jeffrey were nose to tail on the first lap. 

On the men’s side, Hugo was second with Josiah and Mike Vine coming up on him fast. Nico was looking OK but not as fast as usual in 5th with a pretty close pack of Seth Wealing, Brian Smith, Craig Evans, Branden Rakita and Michigan’s own Ryan Decook.

In the end Canadian Vine was able to put a bit on Middaugh to steal 2nd, Hugo, vision impaired finished a fine 4th and Lebrun was 5th.

As the race was finishing the sun came out and we warmed up to maybe 60, but some fine pulled pork, beans, cole slaw and fine local Ale from Arcadia Brewing made it all perfect.

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