A long, long time ago (last October in Maui), when the idea came to me to have a group of amateurs racing alongside me on the XTERRA tour, I envisioned a team. I wanted to have a group of athletes that I can hang out with at races and maybe help to go faster. I thought about how cool it would be to give the opportunity to amateur athletes to look, feel and behave like professionals without any of the stress or pressure of performance placed on them. I wondered, if you give this opportunity to amateur athletes with other conflicting pressures and responsibilities, what would happen? Would they rise up, given their opportunity? Does just FEELING like a pro make you race like one? Okay, well maybe they didn’t get 100% pro treatment but I did my best to give them the same equipment, clothing, nutrition and access to training and racing strategy I use and then unleashed them on the series.
Well I believe the answer to that is a resounding YES!! I did not choose one single person for Mel’s Rad Racing Team based on results. I confess, some were my athletes that I personally coach so I was well aware of their abilities, but others were chosen solely on whether I thought they would be great ambassadors and representatives of our team.
So when I discovered that we earned SEVEN regional championships with a team chosen just because they were cool people, do you think I was stoked? I think that is fanfabutastic!
Now every one of the athletes below is just plain awesome so it is tough to have true standouts in the group. I am lucky to have Kristoffer Neilsen here in Boulder with me, kicking my butt, as he has at nearly every event he has raced this year which is why he is regional champion. But there is one woman on this list I want to make particular note of because she is the reason why Regional Championships are so darn incredible and motivating for us as human beings. You never know what your potential is until you go on a quest to find it. READ MORE HERE
Heather McNamara downplayed her ability this entire season. When it was required that we submit our “ official points earning team” names for points at races where we had more than four athletes she would never volunteer her name, mostly because she had no confidence in her ability. As the season progressed, Heather absolutely embraced the team and the sport. Alongside her husband Greg, the two trained and raced like absolute demons and now leading into Ogden, Heather is racing better than she ever has and will be crowned regional champ on the eve of the National Championships. She would not have won had she not been committed to racing a bit more than some other athletes but in racing more she also got better. When she got better she became a champion.
If you want to talk to someone who will totally inspire you to pursue your regional championship, talk to Heather. She is one of the best promoters of MelRad Racing, XTERRA and being a kickass person. You can’t help but love her as much as I do and our team does. When you see her in Ogden, give her a high five. Her good karma will rub off on you. So here is a big fat WAY TO GO sent to Heather, Stoff, Fred, Keri, Katherine, Tom, and Bruce. Go team! And for the rest of MelRad….let’s focus on bringing home some National Champions jerseys as a warm up for the Worlds!!
North East Region
Kristoffer Nielsen (30-34) whose wife Erin is also regional champion in 20-24 and is a strong candidate for MelRad 2010!!
Mid Atlantic Region
Bruce McLaughlin (50-54) despite a heinous crash in Richmond!
South East Region
Fred Smith (30-34) hmmmm.. we’ve got some serious podium overall threats this year! Fred also cleaned up at most of the XTERRA Trail Run events in his region
North Central Region
Heather McNamara (40-44) our poster girl!
North West Region
Keri Grosse (40-44) last years overall amateur World Champion is picking up where she left off!
South West Region
Katherine Pollard (15-19) last year’s National Champion started the season beating all of the boys by an HOUR, lets see where she is at now that she has cleaned up the region!
Tom Monica (50-54) has five regional championships to his name already
Now of this list there is an honorable mention. Shannon Knott kicked off this season like a madman. He was stronger, lighter, faster, meaner than he had ever been. He started the season off right, winning mountain bike races and XTERRAs. But then his wife, a nurse, inadvertently brought home CMV, a terrible virus with similar effects to mono which he contracted. Now he is ill and although he pretty much just had to FINISH another race to win the region, he didn’t get that done because of very, very bad luck. Team MelRad sends a shoutout to our sick teammate to get well soon so you can destroy this series next year Shannon!