OGDEN -- Every athlete fights through adversity in the quest for victory.
However, no athlete fights through adversity quite like a tri-athlete, as they have to fight through three different surfaces and a test of endurance like no other in sports.
Still, the great ones always find a way, and find a way is exactly what men's champion Leonardo Chacon and women's champion Lesley Paterson did as they won the Xterra USA Championships on Saturday morning at Snowbasin Ski Resort.
Chacon, who is from Costa Rica, said he hopes the win will inspire others from his country.
"This kind of thing can show them that we can do big things; we can dream big, and that's most important right now," said Chacon, who finished the course in 2:32:31.
After the bike stage, Chacon was in third place behind Xterra legends Conrad Stoltz and Josiah Middaugh, but found the strength in the run to overcome them both.
"After the bike, I decided I was going to run shoulder to shoulder with Josiah, and the last mile I passed him and I won," Chacon stated.
In the end, Chacon said the mountain terrain ultimately played out in his favor.
"It (the course) was very hard for everybody but I defended my position," he said. "It was my favorite because it was pretty hilly, and I love when it's hilly."
Adversity described this year's championships for Paterson.
The defending national champion, she came into this week's competition ill and struggled early out of the gate.
"Last night, I felt terrible," said Paterson, who finished in 2:53:21 -- good enough for a 17th place finish overall. "The swim is always a challenge, but I was really pleased with that. Then, I got on the bike and got around the first corner, and then I came off. It took me at least half the race to get into it."
Other notable finishers in the women's draw included Barbara Riveros and Chantell Widney. Riveros finished the course in 2:54:04.
Ogden resident Nick Fisher, who was seeded seventh coming into the tournament, ended up finishing outside of the top 10 (2:57:56) and said training issues kept him from seriously contending.
"The training schedule hasn't been what I wanted it to be," said Fisher, who works as a sales representative for a local bike shop. "It's a busy time of year with work and it's hard to get out and train. It's always fun to come to the home course and do your best, so that's the way it is."
Regardless of their finishes, athletes raved about the conditions and quality of the course.
"It's kind of nice because it's been cold the last couple days so the trees are changing," noted Paterson, who has won six consecutive Xterra events on the professional tour. "It was in perfect condition, to be honest with you."
Fisher said the recent rains in northern Utah helped make the course easier for athletes.
Still, regardless of the enjoyment of the race, there was pain after the event and Chacon said he was filled with a feeling of elation after the race, not only for himself but those around him.
"It is incredible," Chacon said. "It's not just for me but for my family and my coach. I'm so happy right now."
The Xterra Utah was also staged on Saturday morning. Ogden's Blake Fessler won the long course Xterra Utah in 3:21:41, with Greg Gervais and John O'Connell right behind. Salt Lake City's Vanie Grandi won the women's division in 3:45:09. Ogden's Addie Stewart was second, followed by Layton's Hannah Rice.
In the short course Xterra Utah, North Ogden's Aaron Hall won in 2:05:57, followed by Nathan Miller of Heber City and Chris White of Sandy.
Lehi's Leslie Howlett won the women's division in 2:27:57, just ahead of Huntsville's Amber Mounday and Stephanie Liddle.
Today, the Xterra Trail Run Nationals will be contested at Snowbasin Resort.