XTERRA Athletes Soon to Descend on Farmington
By G. Jeff Golden The Daily Times
FARMINGTON, NM — The three friends who brought XTERRA racing to New Mexico are hoping to build on the success of last year's event.
XTERRA is a relatively new sport that evolved from traditional triathlons, which require participants to swim, bike and run long distances in succession. While triathlons often take place in swimming pools and on pavement, XTERRA perhaps is suited more to the Southwest's rugged terrain.
"An XTERRA is a triathlon, but it's always off road. The swim is always in a lake, and you bike on trails, and run on trails also," said Jeff Culler, one of the three founders of the XTERRA Four Corners race.
Until last year, there wasn't such a thing as an XTERRA race in New Mexico. Aspiring racers had to travel to Arizona, Colorado or farther to compete. That all changed on June 7, 2008, when Culler, Pete Emery and Eric Edgerton made the first annual XTERRA Four Corners a reality.
"It's the only XTERRA race in New Mexico," Culler said.
This year's race is scheduled for June 6. It consists of a one-mile swim in Farmington Lake, a six-mile run from the lake to Lions Wilderness Park and finally a 19.5 mile bike ride on a segment of the Road Apple Rally course.
The city of Farmington issues a permit allowing 150 people to swim in Farmington Lake. About 120 individuals and teams registered last year, and word must have spread.
The event was nearly three-quarters full as of this week, said Debbie Dusenberry, executive director of the Farmington
Convention and Visitors Bureau. About 70 percent of those people are from outside of the county, some from as far away as California and Texas.
Emery said the event couldn't exist without the support of the visitors bureau and the city. Of the approximately 60 XTERRA races nationwide, XTERRA Four Corners is one of only two that is city-backed, Emery said. The others are supported by private organizations.
Dusenberry said the visitors bureau is proud to be affiliated with the race because it promotes a healthy lifestyle and helps build Farmington's image as an outdoor hotspot.
"Any event that brings focus on that again is something we're very excited to see and to promote," Dusenberry said.
XTERRA racers compete in eight separate regions in the United States, and top point-getters by age group in each region are invited to the national finals.
The South-Central region, in which New Mexico is categorized, also comprises Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kansas and Missouri. Competitors have to participate in at least four races, including two in their home region, to qualify for nationals.
Many racers feel the travel inherent to the XTERRA lifestyle is one of the major perks.
"That's one of the really fun things about going to some of the races. The sites themselves are just so much fun, so beautiful and peaceful," Emery said.
And because of the regional requirements, the same athletes often face each other time and time again. They're competitive, sure, but they've also formed a type of brotherhood.
"It's almost like a gigantic extended family. It really is fun meeting these people from all over," Emery said.
Training, of course, isn't easy. Culler said he competes in an average of five races a year, and he bikes, runs and swims each at least twice a week.
Registration is open to individuals and relay teams that break up the events between two or three people. Only individuals gain points toward the XTERRA nationals.
Registration forms can be obtained at the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau or online at http://www.xterrafourcorners.farmingtonnm.org/.
"We're hoping to sell out this year," Emery said.
G. Jeff Golden: email@example.com
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