Richmond, Virginia (June 14, 2009) - The legend of the Caveman continues to grow. Conrad Stoltz sliced open the top of his foot shuffling across the bottom of the James River while helping to put a course buoy back in place just two minutes before the cannon blast and rumbling roar of a CSX freight train on the tracks overhead signaled the start of the XTERRA Atlantic Cup in downtown Richmond, Virginia this morning.
"The cut was so deep I could see tendons," said Stoltz, who has already posted a series of graphic pre-and-post op pictures on his facebook page. This shot was taken after the race but before it was opened and cleaned.
"It was disgusting," said Melanie McQuaid who was right alongside him when the incident took place.
Fellow competitor and long-time XTERRA ambassador Dr. Kathy Coutinho of Fairfax Station, VA helped wrap plastic around the wound literally seconds before the start and off he went. Now, the swim in the James River is crazy to begin with ... a little more than a quarter-mile through a cross-current (with boulders and rocks to navigate around) over to Belle Isle. Once up on the muddy shores of Belle, competitors are tasked with jogging a few hundred feet up river before jumping in and swimming back across. This is where Stoltz believes the impromptu plastic bandage came off and as a result he "felt the wound flapping in the water" as he swam back.
News of the carnage spread quickly, and Dr. Matt Marchal of Altius Family and Sports Medicine was waiting for Stoltz in the swim-to-bike transition where he poured peroxide and bandaged the wound and sent the Caveman on his way in a matter of seconds (his T1 split was just 46 seconds!).
"Dr. Matt was waiting by my bike and it was like a Nascar pit stop, took no time at all," said Stoltz, who went on to have the fastest bike split (1:01:44) and hit the run with a one-minute lead over Middaugh and Hugo and ultimately won the race Curt Schilling-style with a bloody shoe.
After a series of high fives and "holy cow" comments after crossing the finish line Stoltz was back with Dr. Marchal getting cleaned up, stitched up (seven in all), and iced up all while chatting nonchalantly with the local TV and Richmond Times Dispatch reporters. It was his fourth win in five years in Richmond and fourth win in five XTERRA Cup Series races this season. Stoltz stuck around until the onsite awards ceremony where he told his raceday story to an aghast, yet appreciative crowd.
"I thought about not racing but we put in so much effort with the training and the travel and this Series is so very important to me I just had to go. The adrenaline runs so high," said Stoltz. "I felt fine on the bike, it didn't hurt at all, and it wasn't until the run that I started to get tired and a little woozy and I wasn't sure if it was fatigue or blood loss."
Behind Stoltz, last year's Richmond winner Josiah Middaugh was doing his best to recreate 2008 when he jolted past Dan Hugo just a mile before the finish to steal the win. It wasn't meant to be, however, but a strong finish nonetheless, just 22 seconds back.
"I don't think I was making up anytime until a couple miles to go and saw Nico just 10 seconds back so had to go as hard as I could to hold him off," said Middaugh.
Lebrun chased down Mike Vine and Dan Hugo, but couldn't catch Middaugh, thus settling for third. It's the Frenchman's sixth race in Richmond and the fourth time he's placed 3rd (he won the other two!). Mike Vine, less than a week removed from his XTERRA Malaysia Championship and a 12-hour time difference, stayed solid all day for fourth and Hugo, a week after winning the Northwest Cup, dropped a couple spots on the run but still finished in the top five for the fifth straight race.
McQuaid "The Cup Collector"
In women's race Melanie McQuaid, "inspired by Conrad, the tough guy of the year award winner" led from start-to-finish and stayed perfect in an overwhelmingly imperfect, unpredictable sport. It's McQuaid's fifth straight XTERRA Cup Series win this year, and second-in-a-row in Richmond.
"I've just been playing it one race at a time," came the cliche from McQuaid. "I've been feeling good, and my fitness is good. Today I was very conservative because I didn't want to end up doing the "suffer shuffle" on the run because of the heat and humidity like I've done here before."
The weather in Richmond cooperated today, with downright pleasant, cool, overcast conditions.
"It was the best racing weather ever," said Danelle Kabush, who ran her way from fifth to third and moved into the No. 2 spot in the XTERRA Cup Series.
Shonny Vanlandingham, not known for her swim, came out of the water in 3rd not too far behind McQuaid and said "my swim was so good I just wanted to quit right then." Of course, she didn't, she blasted the bike and finished second behind McQuaid and "was happy I didn't get caught on the run by Danelle."
Jenny Smith placed fourth and adventure racing phenom Sari Anderson put up her best XTERRA showing yet in fifth. With the victory McQuaid has now collected the maximum 500 points heading into the XTERRA USA Championship race in Utah on Sept. 26.
"I'm still racing the next two though because I don't want anyone to catch up," chuckled McQuaid. Indeed the best case scenario for a competitor would be Danelle Kabush. If DK wins the next three she'd end up with 472 points, a 28-point differential (meaning Kabush could win the Cup Series if, for example, she won the XTERRA USA Championship and McQuaid finished 5th or worse at that race).
Note: Several hundred athletes from 30 states took part in today's race, which consisted of a 1km (0.62 mile) swim in the James River, followed by a 27km (16.7 mile) mountain bike course through Richmond’s award-winning James River Park System trails and a 10km (6.2 mile) trail run. The bike course is renowned for having some of the most technical trails in XTERRA despite being in the heart of a major metropolitan city. A very special thanks to the many Richmond locals and businesses who made year number 11 for the XTERRA urban jewel possible.