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XTERRA America Tour Opens Sunday
2009 marks the 14th year of XTERRA off-road triathlon racing and the ninth year of the U.S. amateur series now known as the XTERRA America Tour. This year there are 63 races in 33 states from coast-to-coast, and a pair of the longest standing points series races kick off the dirt-strewn season Sunday with XTERRA Miami in the far southeast and XTERRA REAL nearly 3,000 miles away on Cali's west coast.
Casey Fannin has won the XTERRA Miami off-road tri two years running (as has Rachel Wood in the women's division) and will be back in Florida to see if he can make it a three-peat. Out in Granite Bay, California the legendary Mike Pigg - 1997 XTERRA World Champ and one of the most successful triathletes of all-time - jumps back into the off-road tri scene for the first time in years. A number of familiar names will join him to start their seasons at XTERRA REAL with the likes of multiple-time age group XTERRA World Champions from Reno - Tom Lyons and Kent Robison - along with NorCal ambassadors Janet Soule and Cliff Milliman, Bend, Oregons Dave Cloninger, and last year's men's winner Trevor Glavin from Salinas.
CEREAL CITY TO HOST XTERRA MIDWEST CUP
For the first time since XTERRA Rochester back in 2000, Michigan is hosting an XTERRA Championship race - the XTERRA Midwest Cup – one of eight regionals across the U.S. and the designated “big race” for the Midwest Region.
Heartland racers are being called on to get ready in a hurry, as the XTERRA Midwest Cup heads to Fort Custer State Park just outside the “Cereal City” of Battle Creek, Michigan on May 17.
The race combines a 1,000-meter swim with a 20-mile mountain bike and 6-mile trail run and dishes out $10,000 in pro prize money and 34 qualifying slots into the XTERRA World Championship in Maui.
For the last three years local organizers Jim and Joyce Donaldson of Elite Endeavors have hosted the XTERRA Last Stand point series race there, and thanks to their efforts and the Battle Creek Convention and Visitors Bureau, it has been turned into a major championship event. All the big names in XTERRA like Conrad Stoltz, Melanie McQuaid, Michigan native Josiah Middaugh (pictured) and Shonny Vanlandingham will be there battling for their share of the money and fame up for grabs in central Michigan’s great outdoors.
The course itself is killer as the bike trails at Fort Custer are “well-known, well-cared-for and well-loved by mountain bikers throughout the region,” according to long-time Michigan-based XTERRA stud Todd Scott. The place was formerly owned by the U.S. Army and used for combat training and the trail makes use of those remnants by dropping into and riding the walls of the dugout trenches.
While most of the trail is open and flowing singletrack, it’s interspersed with challenging twisty and technical rocks & roots sections like “Granny's Garden” and the “Amusement Park”, and there’s even a section called “Demons Drop”. Just to make sure you know you’re at an XTERRA there’s a water crossing or two, steep climbs, big drops, and big logs (trees, ya know, to navigate around). The run is all about XTERRA too, heading straight from transition to the sandy beach along the lakeshore then in to some hilly dirt paths that’ll make your calves cry.
Last year in mid-May it was 75-degrees and sunny on race day, but still a wetsuit race as the swim in beautiful Lake Eagle will have water temps in the mid-to-upper 60s. There also offering up a half-distance off-road tri, a duathlon, and relay team options, and the local bike shop “Team Active Cycling and Fitness” can take care of an athletes' bike needs.
Easy to get to and “about an hour from anywhere” this course, this community, and this race will not disappoint.
FUHR, MILLS WIN XTERRA BLACK MOUNTAIN 15K
Brandon Mills, 29, and Heather Fuhr, 41, won the inaugural XTERRA Black Mountain 15km trail run in San Diego, CA on Sunday. It’s the second 15km race win in a row for Fuhr, who captured the XTERRA Mission Gorge 15km title last month.
The sixth of seven races in the XTERRA SoCal Trail Run Series greeted nearly 400 runners from across the southland to Black Mountain Regional Park where one of the many obstacles was a recently deceased rattlesnake that ended his lifelong slither in the middle of the trail at mile seven (oh joy!).
Mills finished in 1:03:13, just ahead of Kevin Gillotti while Fuhr won in 1:04:08, seven minutes ahead of long-time friend and fellow triathlon great Paula Newby-Fraser.
Next up for SoCal runners is the XTERRA Malibu Creek Challenge 6 and 22km trail runs on May 9 in Malibu.
Complete race results can be found online at www.xterratrailrun.com.
XTERRA ALBERT FALLS IN RSA
The XTERRA South Africa off-road triathlon and trail running series continues this weekend with runs and tris at Albert Falls Nature Reserve, Kwazulu Natal.
The South African XTERRA group, run by Stillwater Sports, have a grand sense of humor. Straight from their website (where you'll find all sorts of gems) is this description on the weekend event:
"This event is named after the famous Mountain Biker known only as Albert – he was not the best and often wiped out at strategic points. Sadly he fell over the waterfall and since then it has been known as Albert Falls. Albert would have wanted you to enter the XTERRA event. For the first time this year competitors will be swimming down the falls."
The main event in RSA, the XTERRA South Africa Championship, is set for April 18 in Western Cape and a great training camp/adventure tour is available to interested racers at epix tours. Dan Hugo (pictured) will be at Albert Falls and at the SA Champs next month where he intends on defending his title.
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