USA Triathlon hands out first ever  Off-Road Triathletes of the Year awards, recognising the growth of off-road triathlon

Josiah Middaugh (Photo: Nils Nilsen / XTERRA)

Josiah Middaugh was the top US finisher at the XTERRA USA Championships (Photo: Nils Nilsen XTERRA)

USA Triathlon has announced the 2013 Off-Road Triathletes of the Year, honouring athletes for outstanding performances on challenging courses featuring an open water swim, mountain bike and a trail run.

The off-road triathlon discipline continues to gain popularity, with the International Triathlon Union officially recognising the format as a world championship event in 2011. The Off-Road Athletes of the Year honour is presented by Garmin, and winners were selected by USA Triathlon’s Age Group Committee.

“Off-road triathlon is one of our fastest-growing areas of multisport. As you might imagine, it attracts some highly competitive athletes,” said Steve Sutherland, chair of the USA Triathlon Age Group Committee Athlete of the Year Subcommittee. “We are very pleased to honour the best of those competitors as our Off-Road Triathletes of the Year.”

Amateur athletes Matthew Balzer (Reno, Nev.) and Hannah Rae Finchamp (Altadena, Calif.) earned Off-Road Triathlete of the Year accolades. Balzer was the first amateur finisher at the XTERRA USA Championships, and he was the top American at the XTERRA World Championships, where he finished third in his age group. Finchamp, who competed in the 15-19 age group in 2013, was the first amateur woman to cross the line at the XTERRA West Championship and XTERRA Worlds.

Josiah Middaugh (Boulder, Colo.) and Emma Garrard (Park City, Utah) were named Elite Off-Road Triathletes of the Year for 2013. Middaugh was the winner of the XTERRA Southeast and XTERRA West Championships, and he was the first American finisher at the XTERRA USA Championships, where he was second overall, and XTERRA Worlds, where he finished fourth in the field. Garrard returned to racing in 2013 after giving birth to her son, and she was the top American finisher at the XTERRA USA Championships and XTERRA Worlds, finishing fourth and fifth overall, respectively.

Men’s Off-Road Triathlete of the Year: Matthew Balzer (Reno, Nev.)
Honorable Mention: Cole Bunn (Bettendorf, Iowa)

Women’s Off-Road Triathlete of the Year: Hannah Rae Finchamp (Altadena, Calif.)
Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Gruber (Loma Linda, Calif.)

Men’s Elite Off-Road Triathletes of the Year: Josiah Middaugh (Boulder, Colo.)

Women’s Elite Off-Road Triathletes of the Year: Emma Garrard (Park City, Utah)