Klassen and Purcell make it six wins apiece at latest Xterra

Kerry Classen  Credit: Janet Clark/Team Unlimited
Kerry Classen took his sixth win in this year's Xterra America Tour off-road triathlon series, held at Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas, Calif., on Sunday. Xterra San Dimas was the final stop of this year's 10-stop tour.

The race consisted of a 1.5K swim, a 30K mountain bike, and 10K trail run, and was held under sunny skies with temperatures in the upper 80's. Classen, 28, a former swimmer, was first out of the water after the two-lap swim in Puddingstone Reservoir, in 19:21, followed by Wes Hobson, 33, of Boulder, Colo., 25 seconds back. Canadian Kelly Guest was in third with local pro Jeff Sneed, 20, of La Canada, Calif., in fourth.

Once on the bike, Classen set a blistering pace for the pack of riders in pursuit. At the end of the first 15K lap, Classen was a minute and a half ahead of Mike Vine, 27, of Victoria, B.C., who was racing neck and neck with Guest.

Defending Xterra San Dimas champion Michael Tobin was 30 seconds behind them, having just passed Erik Burgan, 25, of Carlsbad, Calif., who was fifth at this years U.S. triathlon national championship. Tobin had exited the swim in 28th place, and made up more than 2 minutes on the first lap of the mountain bike.

Going into the run transition, Classen appeared to be pacing himself well, and still had more than a 1 1/2-minute advantage on Vine in second, with Tobin closing in third, only eight seconds behind Vine. Tobins bike time of 1:21:18 was the fastest of the day. Guest, who had worked with Tobin through the bike, was in fourth. Hobson was in fifth place, having passed Burgan on the second lap.

A mile into the run, Tobin passed Vine and began to close the gap on Classen. He kept pushing and had closed to 45 seconds by the halfway point in the run. Tobin couldn't push it any further, though, and dropped off the pace, conceding the win to Classen, who finished in 2:20:45, with Tobin a minute behind him in second. Vine finished third, almost 30 seconds behind Tobin, with Hobson in fourth. Guest took fifth.

With his win, Classen retained his lead in the Nissan Xterra Points Series, and will be the man to beat at the Xterra World Championship, to be held Oct. 22 in Maui, Hawaii. The top 10 men and women points scorers will share $60,000 of Nissan Xterra Points Series prize monies at the Maui race, with their finish in Maui netting them double points. Vine is ranked second, 50 points behind Classen, with Tobin in third.

Also taking her sixth Xterra win of the season was Australian Jody Purcell, 29, who is now tied for first place overall with Kerstin Weule, 33, of Evergreen, Colo., in the points race. Both women have six wins each this season.

Age-grouper Erin McCarty, 30, led the women out of the water with Cheri Touchette seven seconds behind and Weule 36 seconds back in third. Purcell exited fourth, almost a minute off the lead.

Weule, who was the defending Xterra San Dimas champion, began to experience mechanical problems, but was tight on bike leader Touchette going into the second lap. However, Weules problems worsened, and she was forced to pull from the race.

Purcell, who had been way back at the end of the first lap, found her groove and passed Touchette on the course's most rocky and technical ascent. She came off the bike with a two-minute lead over Touchette, with Erin McCarty third and Lorraine Barrows, 35, of Laramie, Wyo., in fourth.

Purcell held the lead through the run, despite a fantastic effort by Barrows, who passed both Touchette and McCarty and scored the fastest run time of the day. Barrows closed the gap between herself and Purcell from five minutes at transition to under a minute and a half at the finish. Purcell took first in 2:54:27, with Barrows in second at 2:55:42, McCarty third, and Touchette fourth.

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