Off-road triathlon’s biggest event of the year in Alabama – the XTERRA Southeast Championship – returns to Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County for the eighth straight year on May 18-19.
The main event combines a one-mile swim in Double Oak Lake with a grueling 20-mile mountain bike on the highly acclaimed Oak Mountain “red trail”, and a twisty, turny, 10k off-road run.
“This course is amazing, we love it here,” says four-time XTERRA World Champion Conrad Stoltz. “It’s a true XTERRA course with a nice swim in a beautiful lake, a fun mountain bike course and a tough run. I’ve been racing triathlon around the world for 20 years and can tell you this course is among my favorite of all-time.”
Stoltz’ isn’t the only one with high praise for the course at Oak Mountain State Park. Runner’s World Magazine called the trails one of America’s “Crown Jewels – 25 best trails in the nation,” and the International Mountain Bicycling Association granted them the prestigious EPIC designation – given only to those rare trails “guaranteed to blow your mind.”
The course lures professional athletes from around the world and amateurs from across the nation to Pelham, and the accompanying two-day XTERRA Sports Festival provides local athletes and outdoor enthusiasts an opportunity to join in the fun.
The XTERRA Southeast Championship triathlon is the second of four regionals leading up to the XTERRA USA Championship in Utah, September 21. Pros battle for their share of a $15,000 prize purse and for points towards the overall series title while amateur athletes compete for age group titles and one of the 46 qualifying spots into the XTERRA World Championship in Maui.
In addition to the XTERRA Championship and half-distance XTERRA Sprint off-road triathlons on Saturday, XTERRA will host a full set of trail runs on Sunday. Events include 5km and 10km mud runs as well as half-and-full marathon distance trail runs. At the expo participants will also find free clinics taught by pro athletes, corporate tents, demos, giveaways, music, and food.
Competitors, spectators, friends and family are encouraged to stay in one of the myriad of hotel offerings in Pelham for the weekend and take advantage of Oak Mountain State Park which serves as the ideal setting to run, mountain bike, go fishing, ride horses, or go golfing.
“This venue is our model for big XTERRA races,” said XTERRA Managing Director Dave Nicholas. “It’s the perfect spot for a family weekend and with all our competitors camping and hiking and enjoying the atmosphere together – it’s a one-of-a-kind experience.”