On Sunday, October 28, Lesley Paterson battled through the mud in Maui to win her third Xterra World Championship title. Combined with two Cross Triathlon World Championship wins, Paterson is now a five-time World Champion.
Paterson arrived in Maui 10 days prior to competition as the favorite in a stacked women’s pro field. She had just finished one month of training at altitude in Boulder, Colorado followed by six weeks of speed work at her home in San Diego, California while sleeping in an altitude tent. All the preparation boosted Paterson’s confidence, but also created a few pre-race jitters.
“You always hope you can deliver and feel good on the day,” said Paterson. “There were so many unknowns in this race between the waves in the ocean and the mud on course.”
After heavy rain doused Maui’s northwest coast, the hilly 18.5-mile mountain bike course and 6.5-mile trail run were left a muddy mess for the more than 700 competitors racing on Sunday. The challenging conditions combined with more than 4,000 feet of climbing on technical trails were a mental and physical test for all racers.
Paterson exited the rough 1-mile ocean swim at D.T. Fleming Beach over three minutes behind the fastest female swimmer. Still, it was one of her best swims and added to her confidence going into the bike and run, where she was a staunch favorite. Just six miles into the slick bike course, Paterson made the pass to take over the lead on her Liv Obsess Advanced. For the remainder of the race, she didn’t look back or let up, finishing nearly 11 minutes ahead of her next competitor.
“I had utter confidence in my bike, as it’s nimble and can handle these conditions well,” said Paterson when asked how she made it through mud. “Plus, I have great mechanics. The rest is about staying patient and realizing that everyone is dealing with the same stuff, so there’s no point in getting mad about it! It’s the person that can stay in control the most that will win in the end.”
Prior to 2018, Paterson last won ITU and Xterra World Championship titles in 2012. After struggling with Lyme Disease and injuries, six years later she has once again taken top honors in both federations’ premier races. She is already looking forward to defending her two titles in 2019.
You can watch the highlights from the 2018 Xterra World Championships here: