Karl Shaw wins XTERRA Costa Rica

karl shaw xterra costa rica

Karl Shaw from Great Britain and Myriam . Guillot-Boisset from France won the elite races at the inaugural XTERRA Pan American Tour season-opener on an amazing “Pura Vida” morning in Costa Rica on Sunday, March 20.

It’s the first career XTERRA win for Shaw, who had a one-minute lead out of the swim, was seconds in front of last year’s XTERRA Costa Rica Champion Rom Akerson and reigning XTERRA World Champion Josiah Middaugh coming off the bike, and responded to a late surge from Middaugh with one of his own in the deep sand just 2K from the finish to take the tape in 2:05:52.

Middaugh came in 17 seconds later, followed closely by Akerson 9 seconds after that. It was one of the closest 1-2-3 finishes in sport history.

“I would’ve been happy with 3rd so to come away with the win is great, especially mentally to start the season,” said Shaw, who was racing his first XTERRA in four years.

“I’ve just come off 2-3 months of good training, and two weeks of camp here in Costa Rica with my friends, so it’s just been really good. Costa Rica is a lovely country, very good course, hot, and hard on the legs. It’s a beautiful place and I’ll be back next year to defend the title.”

Shaw’s . . brother Asa, who was the runner-up at XTERRA Worlds three years ago, was on-site to see the big win and even though Karl had a good lead out of the swim Asa wasn’t sure it was enough. It turned out that when Akerson and Francois Carloni caught up with Shaw on the bike the three starting working together and effectively held-off the world champ.

For Middaugh, who escaped a winter snowstorm in Colorado on Wednesday only to be greeted by the warm air of the Province of Guanacaste on Thursday, it wasn’t so much the humidity but rather a late crash on the last downhill of the bike that might’ve been the difference.

“I had caught Francois and closed to about five seconds behind Rom and Karl, but after that crash it was more like 30 seconds. It was tough racing today,” said Middaugh. “Every year its hard here. I thought I was feeling a little more fit and would have had an easier time catching that front group on the bike. I came close but not quite close enough.”

Akerson, who lives nearby on the beach, was set on defending his title and knew that keeping Middaugh behind him on the bike would give him his best shot.

“It’s just a matter of time before beast mode breaks out with Josiah,” said Akerson. “I gave it all I had to keep him behind me but couldn’t do it.”

When asked if he was surprised by Shaw’s strong showing, Middaugh replied, “I was surprised with Karl. I knew he was strong on the bike but I didn’t know he would be that strong on the mountain bike, but he was. He did a very smart race, and they were able to work together and he raced really strong. It was hot this year, a little dryer and a little faster and I was really worried about the heat but it seemed okay. I felt I managed it okay.”

This is the third straight runner-up for Middaugh in Costa Rica, and when reminded that it took him 15 years to win Worlds, he said “Well, you don’t learn anything from winning and second keeps you hungry so I’ll be back.”

Next stop for Middaugh is XTERRA Argentina, the 2nd stop on the Pan America Tour, this weekend.

Last year’s XTERRA European Tour runner-up Francois Carloni finished 4th, followed by Frederico Venegas from Costa Rica in 5th and Greg Schott from the USA, racing his first pro race, in 6th.

EMOTIONAL WIN FOR GUILLOT

Two years ago here in Costa Rica Myriam Guillot-Boisset was on top of the world having just won the adventure racing world championship, and to make it even better her Dad was in Costa Rica with her to see it happen.

And then sadness set in…

“My Dad was very sick when he cam e here, and when he took the flight to go back home he passed away,” said Guillot, with tears in her eyes. “It was the last time I saw him, here in Costa Rica, and the first time I’ve been back since. This one is for him. I thought of him out there today. We were at the same place.”

Guillot-Boisset said she could feel her Dad with her during the race and it made her confident, and happy. “So happy, and I’m sorry to share this, normally I keep it to myself, but it’s overwhelming right now”

Guillot-Boisset, who won XTERRA Malaysia and was 4th at XTERRA Worlds last year, dominated the women’s elite race. She came out of the water together with Kara LaPoint from the U.S. and Sabrina Gobbo from Brazil, and the three of them caught IM star Cait Snow early on the bike.

Guillot-Boisset then pulled away from the rest of the field and finished strong in 2:34:48, nearly 15 minutes ahead of LaPoint in 2nd, and Gobbo in third. She will now head to Argentina in her chase to win the XTERRA Pan American Tour title this season.

“The race today was better than I expected,” said Guillot-Boisset. . “It was an amazing swim, everybody would dream to swim here and the run is really exciting. I enjoyed the course, it has so much variety and it’s such a good way to experience Costa Rica.”

For LaPoint, the adventure of racing in Costa Rica mixed with a career-best runner-up performance left her with a great big smile.

“It feels amazing … now that I’m not suffering,” said LaPoint. “The last two miles of the run was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was so tired, it was so hot, and I knew Sabrina was doing great behind me. Having to run on the sand was such a challenge. I did everything I wanted to do here today and I’m very happy with that.”

LaPoint was 2nd out of the water “but 4th out of transition, doh!” but was able to get past Gobbo and Snow and rode in 2nd until about mile 15 when Gobbo passed her back and came into transition 2nd. LaPoint then regained the 2nd position at about mile two of the run and held on until the finish.

“It’s been a really fun experience. A new race, a new country, everything was new. The water was great, course was awesome, everything was neat. It’s been a blast to be here. I was literally thinking to myself in Spanish the whole race,” said LaPoint, who impressively also did her TV interviews in Spanish.

Gobbo said she tried to go with LaPoint when she passed her on the run, but “she was running really fast and I couldn’t keep up.”

Snow finished smiling in fourth in her XTERRA debut, and said “XTERRA is awesome, just a hair-bit dirtier than Ironman. I had a blast, and even though I came off the bike so many times, I was able to laugh about it and that is the key.”

Caroline Colonna posted a career-best 5th place showing, and Rebecca Blatt followed in sixth.

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