MelRad Racing, the first team led by two professional XTERRA World Champions, has announced the roster of 20 athletes – 13 men and 7 women – chosen from each region of the United States to race as part of the amateur squad.
Headlining the team are reigning USA Overall Pro XTERRA Series Champions and combined 6x XTERRA Pro World Champions, Melanie McQuaid and Conrad Stoltz. Melanie and Conrad will be focused on defending their overall USA XTERRA titles as well as earning unprecedented four-time World Champion titles to add to their collection. Aside from their goals on the race course, both Melanie and Conrad have taken on personal coaching roles for up and coming World Champions and general triathlon enthusiasts. Mentoring the MelRad amateur squad will allow them to further their reach into the present and next generation of triathlete by sharing their experience with team members. For information on Melanie and Conrad please visit http://www.racergirl.com and http://www.conradstoltz.com.
Highlighting the West region is Katherine Pollard, the 2008 XTERRA USA National Champion in the 15-19 year category. This 15 year-old future superstar only picked up mountain biking three years ago before winning the National Championships. Also wearing his title well is Tom Monica, the 2007 XTERRA 50-54 World Champion. Not only is he an athletic phenomenon, Dr. Tom also earned a PhD from Stanford in Biochemical Engineering. Derek Engelsman joins the team from the Bay area after a podium finish at XTERRA Nevada in 2008. Racing in the 25-29 years category, Derek has set goals for 2009 in memory of his mother, who was his source of inspiration to be active and athletic. Rounding out the West squad is Shawn Moran who took a fourth place finish in the Clydesdale division at the 2008 USAT Club Championships. A 12 year veteran of the US Border Patrol, Shawn has the tenacity and drive to excel both on and off-road in 2009 racing the 30-34 year category.
Keri Grosse headlines the Northwest region as the 2008 Overall Amateur Female XTERRA World Champion. Keri will race 2009 in the 40-44 year old category, while she performs supermom duties for four boys, trains with her husband and manages her career as a physical therapist in Washington State. Alexia Droz is based in Blaine, Washington but moonlights as a Canadian in Vancouver, BC. Racing in the 35-39 years category, Alexia is a personal trainer focused on racing, having qualified for the XTERRA World Championships for the first time in 2006.
The Mountain region is led by Becky Batizy who is racing in the 30-34 years category. A mother of two balancing a full time job, a husband with a new business, a very aggressive race schedule and some lofty goals, Becky also races as part of the MelRad supermom category and is an inspiration to working moms who want to have it all. A demon on the mountain bike, Becky looks to earn spots on the National and Worlds podium while navigating a very sketchy market in global wealth management. Also hailing from the mountain region is Bruce Wacker, a regular suspect on the XTERRA tour who also is a 2008 XTERRA World Champion in the 60-64 years category. Bruce lives at the base of Pikes Peak which might be why he is still training with athletes in their 30s! He is well known on the triathlon scene and once built a round adobe house from the ground up, partly in the middle of a city street. Jennifer Luebke joins the team from Montana. A member of the Stampeders, a triathlon club best known for finishing in cowboy hats (a very famous member having finished fifth at the 2008 Ironman World Championships), Jennifer brings her strong bike skills over to XTERRA from the half Ironman scene. Racing in the 20-24 year old category, Jennifer has already graduated with University of MT with a degree in mathematics and Spanish.
Crossing over to the Northeast and Mid Atlantic regions we have Kristoffer Nielsen, winner of XTERRA Onteora in 2008 and racing in the 30-34 year category in 2009. Kristoffer was born in Denmark and came to the US when he was 8 years old. He heads up a Web Production company and ad agency while feeding his obsession for spreadable chocolate. Don Kinne is a state trooper from upstate New York who embodies the Race Hard and Have Fun mantra while riding and running in the trails. Racing in the 45-49 years category, Don’s schedule will include both XTERRA events and 70.3 events in 2009. Bruce McLaughlin is a project manager by day and in the winter he also applies his swim skills as the stroke and turns official for the YMCA competitive swim league. Second overall in the 50-54 year category for the mid Atlantic region in 2008, Bruce won XTERRA Trimax and XTERRA King of the Hill in 2008.
The Southeast and South Central region has four representatives. John Close is MelRad Racing’s Team Captain and is a feared competitor on the XTERRA circuit in the 40-44 years category. This Birmingham, Alabama software company CEO was also 2008 Southeast Regional Champion and will lead the team in focus and energy. Shannon Knott joins the team from Mississippi where he lives with his wife and three sons and runs a bike and fitness shop. Winner of XTERRA Ruston in 2008 and an Ironman finisher, Shannon will race the 40-44 year category looking for National and World titles. Todd Poole is a 45 year licensed barber from Monroe, Louisiana. A two-time Ironman Coeur D’Alene participant, Todd boasts bike skills that earned him a second at the 2006 Hotter n’ Hell mountain bike race. Frank Fernandez-Posse joins the team from Florida to race XTERRA and Ironman Florida. This married father of two young boys and published author had the second fastest bike split at the 2008 XTERRA Miami and is nicknamed Sgt. Frank for his “motivational speaking”. Fred Smith IV is from Knoxville, Tennessee and will race in the 30-34 years category. Fred is a long time mountain biker that is looking to build on a strong first Xterra season in 2008 and is planning XTERRA, 70.3 and hopefully a multiday mountain bike race like La Ruta in 2009. If you can ever find him not training or racing, he makes the best guacamole north of Mexico.
Ellen Sauter is a four-time Midwest regional champion from Ohio. Racing in the 45-49 year category in 2009, Ellen is feared as an individual but known to be undefeated in co-ed mountain bike races she enters with her husband. Heather McNamara, the 2007 Midwest Regional Champion and husband Greg Seaman, call Michigan home. Heather and Greg will both be racing XTERRA and 70.3 events in 2009 in the 45-49 and 50-54 category respectively. Heather says she ran away to spend her youth in the circus but that might be a memory created by being carried off the trail on a stretcher after dislocating an elbow in a mountain bike race. Greg came second in his first ever XTERRA race and spends leisure time on Lake Huron sailing and wakeboarding.
The MelRad Racing team will benefit from every advantage offered to Melanie and Conrad racing as professionals. The team is going to rock the Avi-Stoltz shoe from Avia, Epic mountain bikes from Specialized, custom race gear by Pactimo, Genesis helmets from Lazer, GU energy products, PROBAR whole food meal replacement bars, eyewear by Sundog Eyewear, multisport essentials like velocity laces and transition bags from Nathan, goggles and swim gear from TYR, T6 training heart rate monitors from Suunto, wetsuits and training clothing by Profile Design, gloves from Bellwether, Genuine Innovations Big Air canisters, and Powertap power measuring devices and trainers. This lineup of sponsors would be the dream team for any professional athlete but was only offered to an exceptional group of amateur competitors in 2009.