15-year-old Utah girl takes 2nd, New Zealand couple wins XTERRA off-road triathlon at Snowbasin
Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford, a couple from New Zealand, won the XTERRA USA Championship elite titles with winning times of 2:17:33 and 2:46:47, respectively, on a gorgeous fall day Saturday at Snowbasin Resort in the Wasatch Mountains high above Ogden.
It’s the 17th career XTERRA World Tour win for Osborne, the eighth for Kingsford, and the fourth victory of 2021 for both. The couple from New Zealand won their hometown XTERRA in Rotorua back in April then swept the three majors in the U.S., thus achieving the lofty goal they set for themselves at the start of the season.
The day’s race was not the traditional XTERRA off-road triathlon, rather a run-bike-run duathlon after the swim was canceled due to harmful algal blooms in Pineview Reservoir. The new challenge featured a 2.5-mile trail run to start the race instead of the swim, transitioned to an epic 19-mile mountain bike, and finished with a grueling 5.5-mile trail run.
In the women’s race, three-time XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson set the tone early with the fastest first run, but Kingsford was just 13-seconds back and ready for the ride.
Roughly a mile or so into the bike Kingsford caught Paterson and started pulling away. She had the fastest elite bike split of the day and the best final run split to finish a full eight minutes ahead of Paterson for the win.
Paterson, who has been full-on with her movie-making career for more than a year now, showed she still has what it takes to race at a high level.
Andie Aagard, a 15-year-old sophomore from Lone Peak High School in Utah Valley, absolutely crushed it, had the fastest bike split of the day, and despite “never running ever,” finished second overall.
“I wasn’t really expecting that because the last time I ran was three months ago and I just decided to sign up last night,” said Aagard, a local phenom and the current Junior Women’s 15-16 cross country mountain bike champ.
Even more incredible is that Aagard started the race four minutes back in the fifth wave and had to run and ride her way passed hundreds of other racers.
In the men’s race, It was a sprint from the opening cannon blast and as soon as the course started to ascend straight up the ski slope Kieran McPherson surged out in front and challenged the field to go with him.
McPherson led the field into and out of the run-to-bike transition, followed by Josiah Middaugh and Osborne just seconds behind, then Colin Szuch, Eric Lagerstrom, and Brian Smith. From T1 that group went all-out in a race to be the first rider to the top of Sardine Peak at 7,400-feet. It’s a grueling 1,000-foot climb and it came as no surprise that Middaugh, perhaps the best climber in the sport, got there first.
The downhill is relentless, roughly 2,000 feet of technical, twisting singletrack over rocks and into tunnels of orange-yellow-and-pink leaves, and it’s where Osborne’s colors shined through.
Middaugh closed the gap on the East Fork climb to maybe 20 seconds to Osborne, then gave those 20 seconds back on the Middle Fork descent, then pulled him in a little more on the last climb. At the bike-to-run transition, he was about 30-seconds back and the run for gold was on.
“Sam throttled that first mile, and I ran hard but didn’t have that next gear,” said Middaugh. “I felt steady and strong, just didn’t have a lot of pop. Sam is super strong, he’s a hard guy to beat, so I was glad to be second.”
Osborne posted the fastest second run split of the day and was ecstatic when he crossed the line, and emotional to get the win he’d been working towards since May.
“To sweep the U.S. majors, it’s a dream,” said Osborne, the reigning XTERRA Pan Am Tour Champion who won this event when it was an off-road triathlon two years ago. “It was a big commitment for Samantha and I to come to the U.S. for this series in the middle of a pandemic, and it’s been tough, so to get it done, it’s incredible.”
This story supplied by XTERRA USA has been edited for space and clarity.