Compton’s CX legacy shines bright

Katie Compton achieved stunning 15-year streak as US National Cyclocross Champion

Since 2004, the woman to watch at the US National Cyclocross Championships has been Katie Compton. Fifteen years in a row, from 2004 until 2018, Compton victoriously claimed the title of National Champion. On Sunday, that stunning streak came to an end.

“Honestly, I knew on the second or third lap that today is not the day,” Compton said. “ So I had 30 minutes to deal with the emotional part of it, to tell myself you’re not going to win today.”

As Compton came across the line in third place, the tears on her cheeks belied the emotion of the experience. But her tears were brought on by the crowd’s encouragement rather than her own disappointment.

“Crossing the finish line, I had a huge feeling of support,” Compton said. “The cheers were crazy throughout the whole course. Everyone was so supportive. That was really cool to see and hear. People were super positive. It felt like I was winning, even though I wasn’t.”

Compton’s career has undoubtedly been a win. For herself, but also for US cyclocross and for women cross riders.

An entire generation of  young riders grew up with Compton as a role model. In her, they found an athlete who could top the cyclocross podium anywhere in the world and who wins with class, showing respect to her competitors.

Everyone was so supportive. It felt like I was winning, even though I wasn’t.

The same held true on Sunday as 22-year-old Clara Honsinger became the first woman to beat Compton at Nationals.

“She’s a good racer. Strong technically. Smart. Got a good engine,” Compton said. “I’m actually really happy to see the young riders getting faster, stronger, technically proficient. Even watching the junior races on Saturday. I watched all of them. They are amazing. I love seeing the strong competition and the fight in those kids.”

For some young riders, like a 15-year-old girl who approached Compton at Nationals, they have never known another National Champion. Compton’s power and leadership in the field of US cyclocross has shaped the landscape for an entire generation of competitors.

“Katie is one of the legends in our sport,” said Sven Nys, 9x Belgian National Champion in cyclocross. “The reason cyclocross became so popular in the US is because of Katie. If you see how many titles, victories, podium posts she realized, and the length of her career, the only thing I can saw is: wow, an amazing career.”

Katie is one of the legends in our sport.

What does it feel like to hold a legacy as remarkable as 15x National Champion?

“It’s pretty crazy,” Compton said. “It’s hard to win one or two, let alone that run.”

It seems safe to say that no one will ever match Compton’s achievement as 15x National Champion. A standing ovation is in order. Hats off to you, Katie Compton, an American cyclocross legend.