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Turning Up The Heat In The South: Mauricio Mendez, Sam Appleton Take 2nd Places At Xterra Oak Mountain And Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga: Weekend Wrap-up

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XTERRA phenom Mauricio Mendez (MEX) launched his off-road season with a 2nd place win at XTERRA Oak Mountain in Shelby County, Alabama, while next gen triathlon star Sam “Appo” Appleton (AUS) claimed the runner-up spot at IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga this past weekend.

“Big cheers to Mau and Appo for delivering elite performances this weekend. This was Mau’s first XTERRA race of the year, and missing the top spot by seconds – especially after the fastest swim and run – was a heartbreaker. Appo showed that he has a dangerous combination of speed and power on the 70.3 course, and once again, he gave notice that a new wave of pro triathletes are entering the field.”

“Watching Mau and Appo chase down older and more experienced world champs at this point in their careers is just a lot of fun and will makes for good racing now and in the future,” said the Human Interest Group Director Michael Cardoza.

Mauricio Mendez at XTERRA Oak Mountain

Clocking the fastest swim and run of the day, Mauricio Mendez took 2nd place at XTERRA Oak Mountain this weekend, just seconds behind the current XTERRA world champion.

Mendez kicked off his XTERRA race season in dominating style by exiting the 1.5km swim first with a blistering time of 19:46. With the other competitors following him on the muddy Alabama trails, Mendez remained in first place on the bike until a crash near the end allowed eventual winner Josiah Middaugh to take the lead. Mendez quickly finished the bike leg and stayed in close pursuit of Middaugh throughout the 10k trail run. Just as he did when starting the race, Mendez claimed the fastest run split of the day with a time of 34:09. Mendez crossed the XTERRA Oak Mountain finish line at 2:29:28, missing the top spot by 11 seconds.

“Sometimes it’s not about the size itself of a race, it’s about the meaning you put on it…

That was the case for me this past weekend in the XTERRA Oak Mountain Championship. Coming from racing 70.3 in Galveston with 60 pros or so to a race of 15 pro men in the start line where my biggest competition was myself.

I have been known in the Xterra world as a good swimmer and runner with a bike split good enough to fight for the podium. This time I wanted to prove to myself and only myself that I have what is takes to be a great triathlete.

This bike course, I have so much respect for it. Two years ago here everybody was catching me, so today I pushed as hard as I could. I trusted the training I have been following to make a change in my split times, and it paid off on race day. I knew it myself and some people could notice it at the finish line. Great athletes and good friends were telling me about it, you know, something like:

“Mau, I can see that finally you learned how to ride your bike” – Branden Rakita (Someone who I really respect and someone I consider a good example of passion and a true sportsman in every sense of the word.)

That said I am happy about my result. I would never say that I am a great biker I am just better than I was yesterday and that is what I am looking forward day in and day out. I still need to work A LOT to be at the top but I am on my way to it, so the plan is to work harder than I did yesterday,” a wise beyond his years Mendez said following the race.

Mendez will take to the roads in his next few races before returning to the trails again in July. Mendez plans to compete at this fall’s XTERRA World Championship where he placed 4th in 2015.

Sam Appleton at IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga

Throughout IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga, triathlon’s next gen star Sam Appleton kept the heat on two-time IRONMAN 70.3 and 2014 IRONMAN world champion Sebastian Kienle to eventually take second place.

Appo scored the second fastest times on all legs of the race in the pro men division: swim at 23:00 (1:11/100m), bike 2:03:57 (27.11 mi/hr), and run 1:18:12 (5:58/mi). Appo was essentially the only challenger to Kienle on the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship course, especially the bike. Ultimately, Appo finished the race at 3:48:46, about two minutes behind Kienle and five minutes in front of third place.

“Chattanooga was a good confidence booster. It shows my training is on the right track and I am excited to continue improving as the season progresses into 70.3 Worlds,” Appleton said.

Earlier this spring, Appleton captured 1st place at IRONMAN 70.3 Argentina, and in the coming months, he will compete at IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder, Vineman and potentially one other race before returning to Australia for the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.

Also at IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga, Lauren Barnett (USA) took fifth place among the pro women. Barnett’s bike power was evident by scoring the third fastest bike split among the pro women with a time of 2:23:44.

XTERRA Oak Mountain State Park (S-1.5km, B-30km, R-10km)

Josiah Middaugh (USA) 2:19:17

Mauricio Mendez (MEX) 2:19:28

Karsten Madsen (CAN) 2:23:49

IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga – Men’s Pro

Sebastian Kienle (DEU) 3:46:48

Sam Appleton (AUS) 3:48:46

Ivan Tutukin (RUS) 3:53:05

IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga – Women’s Pro

Heather Jackson (USA) 4:11:56

Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4:18:33

Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 4:19:32

Jeanni Seymour (ZAF) 4:21:12

Lauren Barnett (USA) 4:21:22

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