Canadian XC Marathon championships made an exciting return after several years off the calendar, landing way up north in the Yukon over the weekend. Haley Smith and Andrew L’Esperance claimed the elite national titles after 90km of racing over three laps of a singletrack-heavy course in Whitehorse.
Andrew L’Esperance pulled away from the group early on, earning a two-minute advantage by the end of the first of three laps of the Whitehorse course. The Maxxis Factory rider steadily extended that advantage each lap, finishing in 4:21:15.3, seven minutes and 5.9 seconds ahead of the next rider across the line. Cory Wallace (Kona) and Malcolm Barton (ZeroUno) remained close together for much of the four and a half hours, finishing 2:02 apart after 90km of racing. Barton takes silver behind L’Esperance with Wallace in third.
“It feels great to win a national title in the XCM and super happy that this event is back on the calendar,” L’Esperance said after his win. “It came back in a special way with the cycling community of Whitehorse and the Yukon welcoming us to their corner of the country. Aside from the racing, it was an incredible experience to get to visit a northern territory, learn about the culture, meet so many people and enjoy the incredible trails and scenery. Overall, a top-notch weekend.”
On the women’s side, Haley Smith matched her partner and teammate’s results to earn the elite women’s XCM national title. The Maxxis racer put in a dominant showing, winning by over half an hour after 90km of racing. Ruby West (Jukebox) and Hannah Simms (Ellevate) were still riding together after the first lap of the long, 30-km loop. West started to pull away in the second half of the race, earning the silver medal.