Women Persist at XTERRA ATX

Despite a rainy start and a very technical bike course, Saturday’s XTERRA ATX in Austin, Texas had 163 athletes start and a record number of 40 women.

Jenny Burden whose blog – Cowgirls Tri – gives a detailed and entertaining account of the race, wrote:

… Rather than each woman essentially being the only person in our age group, several age groups were 5-7 deep with women, making the competition real! My AG, 30-34, was one that had more than 3, meaning several weren’t getting a podium spot. (This may seem silly to the men who race against dozens of their peers at every race, but as we work to grow the sport among women, know that it was a big deal!)

“It was such a great vibe,” said race director, Joel Grimmett. “Our regular racers were so friendly to the newbies and it’s wonderful to see more women in the sport. Additionally, we had seven XTERRA Ambassadors competing in the off-road triathlon and the XTERRA ATX Trail Run, including Steven Stoot, Stephayne Gibson, Nicole Dorholt, Lua Walker, Jason McIntyre, Alissa Magrum, and Jeanne Hoffman.”

The race was held in Pace Bend Park in Austin, Texas, where the trails are renowned for their challenging rock gardens, steep climbs, and technical drop-offs. After the race, Burden wrote:

… I would have committed a felony for a full suspension bike, or at least a full tubeless set up, by the time I got done with the 14.5- mile course. My competition, Sarah, caught me at mile 5, and passed me. I told her I’d see her at the finish line and she laughed and challenged me to keep chasing! I thought that put me in second, and kept riding hard because you truly never know.

The overall women’s champ was Melanie Etherton, who finished in 2:14:15, about 12 minutes in front of Liesel McAllister’s 2:26:54. Alissa Magrum was third in 2:28:43. Jenny Burden was 4th in her 30-34 age group with a time of 2:53:30.

Etherton discovered mountain biking after relocating to Austin from Germany where she was an avid snowboarder. After seeing how much she missed the slopes, her husband encouraged her to begin mountain biking. From there, Etherton began competing in XTERRA races, where she routinely beats most of the men as well as the women.

Not to be outdone by the women’s competition, the men’s race turned out to be another match up between XTERRA Regional Champ, Kyle Grieser, and XTERRA National Trail Run Champ, Andy Lee.

Lee finished in 1:45:29, about 4 minutes in front of Grieser, who followed in 1:49:34. The two often meet up during XTERRA racing season in trail runs and off-road triathlons. Their last race together was at the XTERRA Pedernales 25K Trail Run in February. In that race, Lee finished the course in 1:51:51, ahead of Grieser’s 1:58:04.

“It was a great match up!” said Grimmett. “Andy and Kyle work for the same fire department so they have quite the friendly rivalry.”

View the complete results.