Stephen Kasica
Vail Daily
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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June 4, 2012
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Middaugh, Anderson win Ultimate mountain Challenge

VAIL, Colorado - When Josiah Middaugh enters a competition, history repeats itself.

The perennial victor of the GNC Ultimate Mountain Challenge at the Teva Mountain Games received his sixth first-place medal Sunday afternoon. In second was Travis Macy. Luke Jay took third place.

Sari Anderson won the women's competition, followed by Gretchen Reeves and Sara Tarkington in third. Anderson proved her versatility,as she was also the winner of the Ultimate Mountain Challenge in the 2012 Teva Winter Games.

The summer version of the Ultimate Mountain Challenge tests an athlete's capabilities in four mountain sports: kayaking, mountain biking, trail running and road cycling. Only four male and three female athletes participated in this year's challenge in the professional division.

The competition began on Saturday with the Bud Light Lime Down River Sprint, a three-mile kayak race through Class II and III rapids along Gore Creek. Macy, the expert paddler, took an early 39-second lead on Middaugh after the first event, 2 minutes and 28 seconds ahead of Jay.

"In kayak the whole goal was not to flip. I've been in the boat just a few times the last couple weeks - just to get ready for it," said Jay.

Ultimate Mountain Challenge competitors were supposed to have the option of doing a stand-up paddle board race in lieu of the kayak race, but it was canceled this year because of low water levels. Because a paddleboard moves so much slower than a kayak, Macy said he would never compete in it.

Middaugh quickly made up time during the Volvo X-Country Mountain Bike Race. Back in the comfortable environment of a mountain-bike saddle, Middaugh placed eighth overall, despite starting two minutes behind the professional wave of the race.

Anderson and Reeves also infiltrated deep into the professional field despite the initial deficit. The two women finished in fifth and sixth place among the field, respectively.

"We were really close to each other. Sari was just ahead of me," Reeves said. "But we ended up having a pretty good time compared to the pro women - so that was pretty cool."

After paddling and riding, the athletes are able to rest before the second day.

Sunday's competition hit the ground running in the Volvo 10K Spring Runoff. Competitors ran up the ski slopes of Vail, gaining 1,800 feet of elevation. Middaugh placed sixth in the run behind winner Josh Eberly, who finished second in the Vail Half Marathon the day before.

"I definitely trashed my legs a little bit there, but finished pretty well, you know, overall, and first among the Ultimate Mountain Challenge people," Middaugh said.

The series concluded with a road cycling time trial up Vail Pass, the same course ridden by legendary riders Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault in the late 1980s.

Since 2007, Middaugh has stood on top of the podium. And since 2009 Macy has finished as the runner-up.

"If I'm going to finish second to someone, Josiah is a great guy to do it to," Macy said. "He had a great mountain-bike ride yesterday, and I had a pretty mediocre ride."

And Jay's entry in the race was greatly welcomed by race veterans.

"It's definitely welcomed, any new competitors in this event. It's such an awesome event and I wish there'd be more top competitors that would come. But it was fun to have a couple of new faces out there," Middaugh said.

Stephen Kasica is an intern at the Vail Daily; follow him on twitter @Stephenkasica.


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