Colorado’s high country during the summer time is something to behold with its big blue skies, white aspens, majestic mountain ranges and cool, fresh air. It’s simply beautiful and Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, host to the XTERRA Mountain Championship since 2009, enhances the experience with world-class facilities and people.
Then there is the course itself, which is an absolute beast.
It starts with a mile swim in the cold 64-degree waters of Nottingham Lake situated at 7,400-feet elevation. Nottingham is just big enough to get a full mile swim with 2 laps, and Buck Creek flows into the reservoir so even though the lake is small, the water temp rarely tops 70 degrees.
The next step involves roughly 15 miles of mountain biking that climbs 3,500-feet into the thin air of the Rockies.
“I just threw up in my mouth a little remembering that climb,” exclaimed Ben Hoffman, one of America’s greatest all-around triathletes, after seeing a picture from last year of Branden Rakita, Josiah Middaugh, and himself three miles into the first climb on the bike that gains 2,000 vertical feet in five miles.
The bike course peaks out at above 9,400 feet above the Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch ski slopes, then turns into some well-maintained single track that switches through the aspen trees and works its way to the village-to-village trail and down to Beaver Creek Village.
The final piece of resistance is a calf-burning, six-mile trail run which breaks down into essentially two challenging climbs that each have over 500 vertical feet of climbing (1,300 for the course).
Appropriately, America’s best XTERRA athlete Josiah “Beast Mode” Middaugh calls this place home, and has won two of the last three races here.
“Love having XTERRA here and the opportunity to showcase my backyard,” said Middaugh, the reigning XTERRA U.S. Pro Series Champion and winner of five of the last six regional championship races. “The whole reason I do XTERRA is because of the training grounds I have access to, 90% of which are right out my front door and up Beaver Creek. To me this place is what XTERRA is all about, the mountain lifestyle.”
As an athlete and coach Middaugh has personally exposed that lifestyle to a whole new generation of athletes in the valley and says he can see it taking hold.
“I think having XTERRA here has created a triathlon community, which is really cool for me to see. Kids are getting into it, adults are getting into it. We have a lot of swim teams, and open water swims in Nottingham Lake, which didn’t use to happen before. It’s the perfect place for it.”
So much so that Men’s Journal Magazine recently named it “one of nine scenic triathlons that are worth the trip.” Also of note, the International Ski Federation picked Beaver Creek Resort to host its 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.