Catching up with Some Mr. XTERRA’s

There is quite a bit of buzz surrounding the current and former Mr. XTERRA award-winners here at the West Championship race.  Last year’s winner, Jay Heller, doubles as Mr. Las Vegas as well.

Jay HellerHeller, a long-time Las Vegas resident, has been instrumental in pulling all the pieces of the puzzle together so XTERRA can put on a good show here.  He’s gathered the volunteers, and the water, and the recovery food, and the bike tech, connected this person with that person and received and stored truckloads of miscellaneous shipments sent to his house over the past few months, all the while maintaining his own business and family life.

On Saturday he’ll get to relax…and race in the championship.  He’s been racing XTERRA since ’97, and will get the whole family dirty on Sunday as Elliana, Blake, Charles, Rebecca, and Michele join him in the trail run.

2007 Mr. XTERRA Will Kelsay is here – and has another killer racing schedule lined up that will take him all over the U.S. and to France, Italy, and Mexico as well.  This year he has even taken on the role of “American ambassador” to XTERRA Mexico. Seriously, all those wanting a great adventure south of the border need to write him, will@willkelsay.com. He’s got travel plans and itineraries brewing.

“I’m always in the mood for an adventure. Big or small, sane or crazy, if it sounds like it could be fun (or make for a good story), I’m always game,” said Kelsay.

Mr. XTERRA 2006 Courtney Cardenas is in town too – and will be making his inaugural ride and run as Guide to the great Michael Stone, a two-time XTERRA USA PC Champ.  Stone is legally blind, and if you want to see what it’s like to ride a bike through his eyes, check this out.  It’ll be Courtney’s job to keep him straight and keep him safe.

Billy AndersonThe 2004 winner is here too, and you can read what kind of impact Anthony Snoble has had on this race here.

Sometimes the Mr. XTERRA award goes to a “Mrs. XTERRA” and that applies to Barbara Peterson (2003) who is back on the start list and as fast as ever, having done over 100 XTERRA’s and pulling in her 10th regional championship in the West region 55-59 division last year.

Then there’s Billy Anderson, Mr. XTERRA 2003, who’s not in Vegas but you’d think he was based on this picture of him with the famous Guy Fieri of the Food Network yesterday in Chicago.  Apparently the two hit the town last night and at some point Billy got called out for his twitter handle, @mrxterra, and had to phone a friend to get a pic of the perpetual trophy with his name on it to prove he was indeed, Mr. XTERRA. Pic came thru, and he won that bet, we hope.

They are legends, one and all.

Atkinson, Bucher win XTERRA Great Ocean Road

Anglesea, Victoria, Australia – Courtney Atkinson and Renata Bucher won the men’s and women’s elite titles, respectively, at the inaugural XTERRA Great Ocean Road off-road triathlon in Anglesea on Sunday morning.

Renata BucherWhile it’s just the first XTERRA win for Atkinson, it’s No. 30 for Bucher who has now won an XTERRA major in 13 different countries, the U.S. Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan).

XTERRA President Janet Clark was in her home country to take in all the action, and brings us this report…

Anglesea, the Adventure Capital of the Surf Coast of Victoria, greeted hundreds of offroad triathletes and trail runners who turned out today to celebrate the return of XTERRA to Australia and the launch of XTERRA Great Ocean Road.  Conditions were ideal with temperatures in the mid 20’s (Celsius) with light surf.

Two-time Australian Olympian, Courtney Atkinson, in his first XTERRA appearance, literally ran away with the victory.

“I got through it without breaking anything, so I’m happy,” said Atkinson, who got on a mountain bike for the first time after the Olympic Games last year and shortly after broke his wrist while training for the Mark Webber charity adventure race held each November in Tasmania.

While nothing broke, Atkinson did get a taste of why we say in XTERRA that “Mother Nature is your toughest competitor.”

“I ran over a massive brown snake on the bike but it didn’t get me,” said Atkinson.  “It worked out.  I knew my strengths and weaknesses, and I worked to them.”

Atkinson came out of the water at the front with Australian XTERRA racer, Ben Allen, who is fresh off winning the XTERRA Triple Crown (XTERRA Philippines, XTERRA Saipan and XTERRA Guam held in March in Asia/Pacific), and South African, Stuart Marais.

Allen and Atkinson rode neck and neck on the first part of the bike, with Atkinson leading into the narrow, twisting, single track section about half way into the mountain bike.

“I thought if I could get to the single track and get in front, that once I got out of it, my strength would be on the open fire roads.  I had to work really hard to stay with Ben to that point, and get in front, and from there it was limiting my losses,” he said.

He caught Allen about 4km into the run on a long beach stretch and pulled away to take the win with a margin of almost four minutes over Allen.

“Getting out on the bike, Courtney was right on my tail, and I wasn’t able to drop him on the fire trails.  My mountain bike skills were a little bit better (than Atkinson’s) and I was able to gain a 30-45 second advantage on the single track, but there wasn’t enough of it for me to capitalize on my advantage.  Courtney caught me at the turn around on the run and just put the hammer down.  I tried to stick with him, but he’s a world-class athlete,” said Allen.

“I’m stoked to be able to race with him,” said Allen.  “Guys like Courtney bring XTERRA to another level.  For me that’s exciting and a whole new challenge.  I’ll be back with all guns blazing next weekend for XTERRA New Zealand.”

South Africa’s Stuart Marais finished third almost three minutes behind Allen.

Brit, Rory Downie took fourth and Olly Shaw (New Zealand) was fifth, both in their first XTERRA pro season.

Pro Men

 

Pl

Name

Swim

Bike

Run

Time

1

Courtney Atkinson (AUS)

15:18

1:01:46

35:50

1:53:26

2

Ben Allen (AUS)

15:19

1:00:18

41:11

1:57:19

3

Stuart Marais (RSA)

17:05

1:01:25

40:47

2:00:04

4

Rory Downie (GBR)

16:43

1:04:07

43:12

2:04:42

5

Olly Shaw (NZL)

18:15

1:05:59

43:46

2:08:13

Also: Jarrod Kohler

Complete Results

BUCHER BACK ON TOP

In the women’s race Switzerland’s Renata Bucher had a decisive victory with a lead of almost five minutes over runner-up, Great Britain’s Jacqui Slack.

In doing so, Bucher racked up her 30th XTERRA Championship win since her first XTERRA race in 2004.

“I really wanted to win here,” said Bucher, who spent several weeks in the area before and after the XTERRA Triple Crown series in March, where she was runner-up at all three races.  But today was her day.

Bucher was second out of the water behind Slack and caught her on the fire road just before entering the single track where she took the race lead and never let it go.

“I love the bike course here,” she said.  “I trained hard and have spent hours on the trails.  I left everything on the course and I’m super happy about that.”

Slack had won XTERRA in Saipan and Guam only a few weeks earlier, however, today the win was elusive.

“There was no leeway in this race,” said Slack.  “I was pushing as hard as I could, but Renata was a different athlete.”

Austrian Carina Wasle, who was racing in her fifth XTERRA World Tour major this season having competed at South Africa (4th), Philippines (DNF), Saipan (2nd), and Guam (3rd), finished in third today.

“I’m happy with my race.  The course is beautiful and the landscape is amazing,” said Wasle.

Local girl, Peri Gray, took fourth in her second XTERRA race as a professional.

Images

Pro Women

 

Pl

Name

Swim

Bike

Run

Time

1

Renata Bucher (SUI)

20:21

1:03:31

43:58

2:08:18

2

Jacqui Slack (GBR)

17:59

1:09:31

46:02

2:13:56

3

Carina Wasle (AUT)

19:07

1:09:54

49:57

2:19:55

4

Peri Gray (AUS)

19:05

1:14:58

48:12

2:22:42

5

Deanna Blegg (AUS)

19:07

1:16:42

51:19

2:28:18

Also: Daz Parker, Nienke Oostra

Next on the XTERRA World Tour: The XTERRA Great Ocean Road off-road triathlon was the sixth World Tour event to qualify amateur athletes into the XTERRA World Championship to be held in Kapalua, Maui (Hawaii) on October 27, 2013.  Next up, the XTERRA New Zealand Championship in Rotorua and the XTERRA West Championship at Lake Las Vegas, NV in the U.S. next weekend.
Date – Race, Location

Feb 24 –  XTERRA South Africa Championship, Western Cape
Mar 2 – XTERRA Philippines Championship, Cebu
Mar 9 – XTERRA Motatapu, South Island, New Zealand
Mar 9 – XTERRA Saipan Championship, Northern Marianas
Mar 23 – XTERRA Guam Championship, Piti
Apr 7 – XTERRA Great Ocean Road, Anglesea, Victoria, Australia
Apr 13 – XTERRA New Zealand Championship, Rotorua
Apr 28 – XTERRA Malaysia Championhip, Putrajaya
June 2 – XTERRA Spain Championship, Cieza, Murcia
June 15 – XTERRA Greece, Lake Plastira
June 29 – XTERRA Switzerland Championship, Vallee de Joux
July 7 – XTERRA France Championship, Xonrupt, Gerardmer
July 20 – XTERRA Brazil Championship, Ilhabela, SP
July 20 – XTERRA Abruzzo, Lago di Scanno, Italy
Aug 3 – XTERRA Mexico Championship, Tapalpa, Jalisco
Aug 10 – XTERRA Czech Championship, Prachatice
Aug 17 – XTERRA Germany Championship, Zittau
Aug 24 – XTERRA Japan Championship, Marunuma
Sept 8 – XTERRA England, Cranleigh, Surrey
Sept 21 – XTERRA USA Championship, Ogden/Snowbasin, UT
Oct 27 – XTERRA World Championship, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

XTERRA West Championship Preview

Conrad StoltzThe XTERRA U.S. Pro Series opener at Lake Las Vegas Resort in Henderson, Nevada next Saturday, April 13 will feature some of the sports biggest stars with Conrad Stoltz and Josiah Middaugh highlighting the men’s field; and Lesley Paterson, Shonny Vanlandingham, and Melanie McQuaid leading the charge for the women.

We caught up with XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas to get his thoughts on the upcoming XTERRA West Championship pro race…

“The long winter is over and Spring brings with it a new XTERRA season,” wrote Nicholas.  “The first two weekends of points series races is in the books, and the first Championship weekend is just a week away.

There is little doubt that Lesley Paterson has stamped her mark on XTERRA.  Now a two-time world champ and an amazing 3rd overall in the Philippines surely must make her the favorite going into the year.  The men have been all about Conrad versus Josiah and for Vegas I don’t see an obvious change.

Craig Evans has shown fantastic bursts of speed and can never be taken lightly along with Branden Rakita who is oh so close at times. Will “the thrill” Kelsey gets stronger every year and at 31 – is the youngest of the five.  Dan Hugo won’t be in Vegas but will return to the U.S. for Pelham and Richmond and is always at the sharp end of the field.

For the women, former world champ Shonny Vanlandingham seems ready to return to the top step. She raced really well in South Africa on the bike and has had over a month to get her running legs under her.

Never to be dismissed is three-time world champ Melanie McQuaid. Mel started the season at the Oceanside 70.3 to get her season going and has not had a season without a win in a dozen years. Fellow Canadian Danelle Kabush broke through with a win of her own in Colorado last year and has always been a fierce competitor while the defending USA national champ Suzie Snyder, like Kelsey, is only 31 and getting faster every year.

There are 14 pro women scheduled with great names like Christine “Big Fish” Jeffrey; and Emma Garrard and Kelley Cullen return from becoming Mom’s.  Among the 14 pro men are some experienced XTERRA guys like Ryan Ignatz, Matt Lieto, youngster Will Ross and Chris Ganter.

Looks like a terrific start to the year and regardless of the outcomes a great after party Saturday at the Westin Pool deck should be a ton of fun with adult beverages and lots of war stories.”

Here’s a look at the tentative pro start lists.  Note: Rank indicates their final position in the 2012 XTERRA U.S. Pro Series standings, NR = not ranked.

Rank – Men – Age, Hometown
1 – Conrad Stoltz – 39, Stellenbosch, South Africa
2 – Josiah Middaugh – 34, Eagle-Vail, Colorado
4 – Craig Evans – 35, Hendersonville, Tennessee
5 – Branden Rakita – 32, Colorado Springs, Colorado
6 – Will Kelsay – 31, Boulder, Colorado
9 – Will Ross – 23, Anchorage, Alaska
11 – Damian Gonzalez – 36, Stockton, California
12 – Ryan Ignatz – 34, Boulder, Colorado
28 – Chris Ganter – 34, Boise, Idaho
NR – Matt Lieto – 34, Bend, Oregon
NR – Matt Mangen – 30, Ivins, Utah
NR – Joshua Merrick – 42, Alamosa, Colorado
NR – Jason Michalak – 35, Crested Butte, Colorado
NR – Erich Wegscheider – 27, San Jose, California

Rank – Women – Age, Hometown
1 – Lesley Paterson – 32, San Diego, California
2 – Melanie McQuaid – 39, Victoria, B.C., Canada
4 – Danelle Kabush – 37, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
5 – Suzie Snyder – 31, Fredericksburg, Virginia
6 – Tamara Donelson – 37, Edwards, Colorado
9 – Caroline Colonna – 48, Taos, New Mexico
10 – Shonny Vanlandingham – 43, Durango, Colorado
12 – Emma Garrard – 30, Park City, Utah
14 – Christine Jeffrey – 40, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
22 – Brandi Heisterman – 37, Squamish, B.C., Canada
NR – Jamie Brede – 35, Breckenridge, Colorado
NR – Rachel Challis – 37, Carlsbad, California
NR – Kelley Cullen – 32, New Castle, Colorado
NR – Lauren Harrison – 35, Los Altos, California

XTERRA Great Ocean Road Up Next

As the XTERRA World Tour heads to Australia on Sunday yet another Olympian is taking to the trails and the adventurous side of tri with Aussie great Courtney Atkinson – a veteran of the Beijing and London Olympics – racing at the XTERRA Great Ocean Road in Anglesea.

Ben and Jacqui Great Ocean RoadHe’ll have all the competition he can handle in the form of Ben Allen – the hottest XTERRA athlete on the planet fresh off his Triple Crown title defense with consecutive championship wins in the Philippines, Saipan, and Guam.

“Great to have XTERRA “down under” and Jacqui and I are really looking forward to the race on Sunday,” said Allen, who is excited about the chance to show off his skills (and those of his girlfriend Jacqui Slack) in front of a big gathering of family and friends.

In addition to a handful of up-and-coming XTERRA pros including Stuart Marais from South Africa, Rory Downie from Scotland, and Oliver Shaw of New Zealand, Allen said there are other things to watch out for this weekend.

“It’s not uncommon to encounter some of the local wildlife whilst exploring the native landscape,” explained Allen.  “A kangaroo here…a wallaby there….but if you discover a slithering creature precede with caution as he might give you a nasty fright.”

Not exactly sure what he’s talking about there but will leave that to the reader’s imagination.   For his part, Atkinson posted a pair of course recon videos (bike here / run here) with a rolling commentary explaining a bit about the challenges that lie ahead for competitors.

The women’s pro race is particularly intriguing with nearly the full line-up of XTERRA women from the Triple Crown Series of events set to toe the sandy start line.  Newly crowned XTERRA Saipan and Guam Champion  Jacqui Slack has got to be the favorite, but Renata Bucher – with 29 championship wins in 12 countries over the course of her career – cannot be overlooked.   Austria’s Carina Wasle, Daz Parker from the UK, and Peri Gray from just up the beach are also in the mix.  You can read-up on all the Great Ocean Road pros here.

XTERRA President Janet Clark, an Aussie herself, is merrily enjoying the sights and sounds of her sport on her turf, and will provide all the colorful details to the XTERRA Tribe over the weekend.

Oak Mountain Trail Runs Set for May 19

The XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Runs is truly a race for anyone. It is open to runners of all ages and skill levels, and it offers a choice of four different courses – a 42-kilometer full-marathon course, a 20K, a 10K and a 5K.

Brandon MaderThis year’s XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Runs is set for May 19, and it will once again take place on the award-winning trails at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER ONLINE

Brandon Mader, an elite runner from Huntsville, Alabama, said he always tries to enter the race at Oak Mountain because each year offers a unique challenge.

“The popularity of the trails at Oak Mountain stems from their diversity of surface, terrain, and scenery,” Mader said. “With 50-plus miles of well-maintained – but not necessarily tame – trails around the lake, traversing the valley, and splitting the ridges, you nearly feel like you’ve run through three or four different parks in one event.”

Over the past few years, Mader has competed on the 42K, 20K and 10K courses at Oak Mountain, and here are his thoughts on each: “The 10k is a great challenge for beginner or intermediate runners. You won’t be alone and won’t need prior trail running experience to enjoy the race. The longer events however do require some experience. The weather becomes a major factor, as any good Southerner will quickly point out to you.  You’ll encounter more technical terrain as you wind through longer loops of the park but still be greeted with the same frequency of on-course aide. The 20K is a great challenge for any level of runner and should really be your goal event if you’ve never run at Oak Mountain before; or if you like to get the global experience, jump in and hold on tight for a 42K tour of one of America’s top trails on the Double Oak.”

Mader noted that the weather in mid-May is typically sunny and humid near Oak Mountain State Park, with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to low-80s.

Oak Mountain is the largest state park in Alabama, and it covers nearly 10,000 acres of land. As such, there are numerous opportunities to turn the race into a weekend of fun.

“I have rode my mountain bike around Oak Mountain on several occasions, and the experience is spectacular,” Mader said. “Take advantage of the camping available in the park and make a family weekend out of your race. With swimming, canoeing, horseback riding, golf and paddleboarding also available in the park, the race doesn’t have to be your only adventure of the weekend.”

The XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Run is the season finale for the XTERRA Alabama Trail Run Series, and the top runners in both the 42K and 20K races will earn points toward the series standings.

Each age-group champion from the 42K and 20K courses of this year’s race will receive a free entry to the 2013 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Hawaii on November 24.

Koenig and Wagner Win Again in Florida Series

Even after a four-month break between races, the latest race in the XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series had a familiar finish last weekend.

Eric Koenig and Jessica Wagner were the overall winners of the XTERRA Trout Creek Trail Run at Thonotassa, Florida, on Sunday, March 24. They were also the winners of the previous race back in November.

Koenig, 23, completed the 15-kilometer course in 59 minutes, 51 seconds, and he was the only runner to beat the one hour mark.

“I took the lead a couple hundred meters into the singletrack, before or at about the half-mile mark from the start,” he said. “I kept up the pace, trying to hit low six-minute miles throughout the race and wasn’t keeping track of how far ahead I was.”

Koenig is originally from Colorado, but now resides in Lutz, Florida, as a graduate student at the University of South Florida. He said he has been training for the races by running in the Trout Creek Wilderness area, and that got him used to the varied terrain, humidity, and windy conditions that occurred on race day.

Pedro Meraz from Wesley Chapel, Florida, was second in 1:01:57, and Hector Guzman from Bradenton, Florida, was third in 1:02:21.

Jessica Wagner finished with a time of 1:13:26, and she was the first overall female.

“Incredible day; perfect weather in the 60’s and slightly overcast,” she said. “With the exception of the steep berm at the get-go, the course was a fairly consistent flat trail run, but with nice slalom-like turns so great for a new trail runner and allowed the seasoned to test their speed.”

Wagner, who works as a Senior Membership Director for the YMCA of Central Florida, has won the past two XTERRA Florida Trail Run events by convincing margins.

“I was sure I was in the lead when the wonderful volunteers cheered and told me so,” she said. “As for the gap? I had no idea until I read the results.”

Christina Chabrier from Wesley Chapel was second in 1:17:00, and Cindy Hazel from Tampa was third in 1:18:06. The top three females are all in the 40-44 age group.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW COMPLETE RESULTS

The XTERRA Trout Creek Trail Run featured close to 300 runners, ranging in age from 7 to 67.

It was the second of three events in the 2012-13 season for the XTERRA Florida Trail Run Series. The final event in the series will be the XTERRA Claw Trail Run at Alafia, Florida, on April 28. To register for a race in the series or learn more about it, please visitwww.tamparaces.com.

Astell, Turner win XTERRA REAL

A trio of past and present XTERRA pros – Brian Astell, Matt Balzer, and Damian Gonzalez, finished 1-2-3, in that order, at the 11th annual XTERRA REAL off-road tri in Granite Bay, California on Saturday.

Brian AstellAstell, famous for winning the XTERRA Halloween Costume contest in Maui when he dressed up as the “naked cowboy” a few years ago, was well back out of the water but strung together the second-best bike split with the fastest run to take the win in 1:43:19, just 20-seconds ahead of Balzer.

In the women’s race three-time XTERRA 30-34 division West Region champ Sian Turner edged the reigning 25-29 XTERRA National Champion Kara LaPoint by a little over a minute.

Impressive performances were had by many in the early-season challenge, highlighted by 44-year-old Dave Cloninger from Bend, Oregon who posted the fastest bike split of the day and finished 5th overall. Also of note, Brent Bieshaar finished the 2nd of 24 XTERRA races on his schedule this season, Jim Meskimen won the 70+ division in 2:42:39 and finished ahead of 25 other racers, MMA stars Nick and Nate Diaz added some star-power to the race, and 16-year-old Jocelyn Vides won her division and placed fourth overall among women.

It was also the first XTERRA for roadie pro Erich Wegscheider, who finished 10th overall and wrote a really colorful (think funny) recap on his blog that is worth a read.

According to long-time race director Bill Driskill from TBF Racing, the race was held under ideal conditions. “We had some of the best weather for the XTERRA Real in the ten years that we have been holding the event. It rained, stormed, thundered and ‘lightninged’ all night, but on race morning it was a cloudy but warm 66-degrees on a course that I heard athletes call “perfect” all day,” said Driskill.

XTERRA REAL has long been one of Cali’s all-time finest and annually draws the best of the West Region age groupers and a handful of pros.

XTERRA REAL

 

Top 3 Men Time
Brian Astell, 32 1:43:19
Matthew Balzer, 32 1:43:39
Damian Gonzalez, 37 1:46:28
Top 3 Women Time
Sian Turner, 32 2:00:28
Kara LaPoint, 27 2:01:38
Debby Sullivan, 32 2:02:35

Complete Results

Mother Nature, Your Toughest Competitor

It’s well documented that in XTERRA, Mother Nature is your toughest competitor.  Look no further than the opening weekend of the XTERRA America Tour to find several stellar examples of this statement.

Hickory KnobIn Rocksprings, Texas it was a warm 86-degrees the afternoon before XTERRA Camp Eagle but during the night a strong front blew in and the temp dropped to 38-degrees with 30mph winds at the start.

“Luckily the spring fed water was still a warm 70-degrees,” said race director Joel Grimmett.

Weather aside, 26-year-old Grayson Keppler upset XTERRA’s Texas age-group legend Kyle Grieser by exactly one minute to win the men’s race while the better-half of the Etherton couple, Melanie, won the women’s race, placing 9th overall.  Etherton has won the SC 35-39 division two years running now, while her husband Steve (a regional champ himself) placed 5th overall and won the 40-44 division on a cold day at Camp Eagle.

XTERRA CAMP EAGLE

TOP 3 MEN  TIME
Grayson Keppler  1:48:39
Kyle Grieser  1:49:39
Jack Cartwright  1:52:02

TOP 3 WOMEN  TIME
Melanie Grote  2:05:24
Rebekah Trevelise  2:33:58
Lucia Colbert   2:45:48

Complete Results

Even colder, and perhaps more aptly described as “downright miserable” conditions, faced the fine folks at XTERRA Hickory Knob in McCormick, South Carolina.  Here’s how race director Andy Kennedy described it…

“The couple of days going into the race were gray, cloudy, and cold….high’s in the upper 40’s. On Friday, we had a sprinkling of rain; on Saturday around 2:00 pm, the skies began to crack a bit more and rain began to fall. The trails were a bit muddy heading into the race with the Saturday rain insuring that the bike ride would at least be a bit more difficult. The park service had been working to remove trees that were down on the trails due to prior storms but when the rains started, were hindered from removing them all. Three trees remained down on race morning making the 14.4 mile bike even a little more challenging.  The rain slacked off a bit Saturday evening giving a little hope of a respite from the ugly weather but that hope was short lived. Around 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning the rain started back….heavier than before. The thunder crept in and lightening streaks were dodging through the sky around 4:30 a.m. I headed out onto the bike trail for a dark run around 5:30 to see what it looked like. The trails had become downhill streams and there was still thunder rumbling in the distance. I kept checking radar and NOAA weather consistently…fingers crossed for a break.

The consistent theme weeks coming into the race was the swim water temperature. It had drifted between 49-53F for a couple of weeks and the freezing rain wasn’t going to help. Earlier I’d reduced the swim from 800m to 500m to cut down on the time of exposure. A couple of days prior to the race, I changed the start time from 7:30 am to 8:45 am, somewhat at the insistence of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and with hopes that the air temperatures would at least be out of the 30’s.  By 8:45 race morning, we had a little break in the weather, the air temperature was 41F-42F, the water temperature was 52F, and all were off! Oh, by the way, to be sure to get the race in with more severe weather approaching, the swim was cut down to 350m….no one objected…imagine that. The 14.4 mile bike and five-mile trail runs were mud baths that sent numerous competitors sliding and tumbling…..but I sure saw a lot of smiles out there!”

Dan Kimball and Marcus Barton from the newly formed Team Centimark-Tailwind tri team suffered the best on the day, finishing 1-2 for the men, with Misty Becerra of Clermont, Florida winning the women’s race.

“By all measure, it was a muddy, nasty, tough, successful race,” said Kennedy.  “All who even toed the start line are to be congratulated. I just told ’em all it’s an XTERRA…suck it up buttercup!”

XTERRA HICKORY KNOB

TOP 3 MEN  TIME
Daniel Kimball  2:18:53
Marcus Barton  2:20:01
Joshua Schaffer  2:20:36

TOP 3 WOMEN  TIME
Misty Becerra  2:56:24
Tanya Houghton  3:00:08
Lila Bowers  3:27:03

Complete Results

At XTERRA Miami they didn’t have much to complain about regarding the weather, except that it was perhaps “too hot” with a high right at 90-degrees.  Diego Corredor and Jen Moos were the ones on fire, winning the men’s and women’s races.

XTERRA MIAMI

Top 3 MEN TIME
Diego Corredor, 33  2:07:21
Rafael Lee, 37  2:10:51
Reinald Garcia, 41  2:11:20

Top 3 WOMEN TIME
Jenn Moos, 30  2:17:20
Beata Wronska, 38  2:30:39
Melissa Scott, 43  2:35:15

Complete Results

Introducing the XTERRA Epic Series

XTERRA racing fans that like to go long will have a series’ all their own this year as four epic-distance off-road triathlons have joined together to form the inaugural XTERRA Epic Series.

The races include the XTERRA Epic – Rustman on May 3 (Ruston, LA), the XTERRA Epic – Marquette on Sept. 13 (Marquette, MI), the XTERRA Epic – ASP on Sept. 27 (Salamanca, NY), and the XTERRA Epic – Iron Mountain on October 18 (Arkadelphia, AR).

All four races will feature a one-mile swim, 30-to-35 mile mountain bike, and 9-to-11 mile trail run.  The Series will be scored in 10-year age groups starting from 18-29, where racers count their best two scores to vie for the 2014 XTERRA Epic Series Championship.

The four events will also award XTERRA Points Series level points into the XTERRA America Tour, with the Rustman counting for the 2014 season while the other three will count towards the 2015 season.

Fred Phillips from DLT Events hosted the first-ever XTERRA “Epic” distance race at Lincoln Parish Park in Ruston, Louisiana back in 2010, and the concept has gained traction since as other race directors expressed interest in hosting long-distance off-road events.

“As other XTERRA organizers have come forward it was only natural to tie the events together and make something our longer distance, endurance-minded athletes could compete in,” said XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas.

One such athlete is Kyle Grieser, a 10-time XTERRA South Central Region Champion from Marble Falls, Texas.  Grieser won three of the past four XTERRA Epic races, including the first two in Ruston and the inaugural Iron Mountain race in Arkansas this past October in a little more than four hours.

“What I like most about the Epic races is you really get a chance to see what you are made of; to see how your body will act when you have to push it longer than normal; to see how well you are really training and if it is paying off,” said Greiser.

Those taking part in the first Epic race this year in Ruston can also race in the XTERRA Gator Terra traditional distance off-road tri the very next day and double-up on points – assuming your body (and equipment) can handle the rigors of 40+ miles of dirt-inspired racing.

“The best advice I can give somebody is to really pace yourself,” said Grieser.  “You also need to have the right nutrition before and during the race.  As far as racing on the same course two days in a row, I really like that Ruston course – its fun and fast with some technical stuff, switchbacks, climbs, and some downhills – so getting on it twice in two days is no big deal.”

The Epic series is another step forward in bringing new and exciting events to the XTERRA family.