The 2016 XTERRA America Tour is ready to rock with the first two races in the continental U.S. this Saturday at the XTERRA REAL off-road triathlon in Granite Bay, California and XTERRA Bluebonnet in Burnet, Texas.
XTERRA REAL is entering its 14th season overall and its 13th as part of the XTERRA America Tour, and organizers say the “lake is full, turn-out is strong, the weather is a perfect 75 degrees and sunny, and the trails are in excellent condition.”
“What keeps us going is the energy that the athletes bring and share with our team,” said Mark Shaw, who produces the event alongside Bill Driskill and the team from TBF (Total Body Fitness). “The spirit of the XTERRA athletes is unique. Throw it down…no excuses…have fun…party hard!”
The alumni list from REAL races past reads like a virtual who’s-who in the sport of XTERRA with the likes of Hall of Famer Jamie Whitmore, World Champs Melanie McQuaid and Lesley Paterson, Mr. and Mrs. XTERRA award winners Cliff Milleman, Janet Soule, and Tom Lyons, XTERRA Warrior award winners Willie Stewart and Bryan Medrano, original announcer Whit Raymond, inspiration blind racer Bobby McMullen, U.S. Pro Series Champ Emma Garrard, future legend Shayna Powless, American triathlon greats like Ben Hoffman, Mike Pigg, Justin Thomas, Matt Lieto, and a countless number of former XTERRA Age Group National and World Champs like Matt Balzer, Phillip Glenn, Ross McMahon, David Cloninger, Meiling Yee, Scot Zavack, Debbie Sullivan, Kara LaPoint, Bryce Phinney, Brian Astell, Aracelly Clouse, David Duncan, and the list goes on….
This year XTERRA REAL will be getting some “real” attention from people outside the triathlon industry as mixed martial artist star Nate Diaz, fresh off a big win earlier this month against Conor McGregor, and his brother Nick Diaz will be racing.
Of the coures Matt Balzer, the defending men’s champion, said “I always love starting my season with XTERRA REAL. It’s almost a local race for me with a very fast, twisty course, and hero dirt. The short, steep climbs on the run are tough, but that’s XTERRA. It’s always hard to get a win at REAL, but I think I’m ready to defend my title. There are a few pros within driving distance of the race and great young, local talent that make for fast racing. As always the TBF crew will put on an amazing event so that and the beauty of Folsom Lake keep me coming back every year. The home baked pies at IKEDA’s after the race don’t hurt either.”
About the “vibe” two-time winner Kara LaPoint added that “TBF is amazing, and we are so lucky to have access to their races so close to home. They host a ton of events throughout the year, and a great variety, from mountain biking to trail running to both road and off-road tri and duathlon. The TBF staffers are so nice and supportive, and really make an effort to get to know their frequent racers. The events are very professional and well-organized. I attend their events as often as I can and feel really fortunate to have such good racing opportunities here in our area. All of their events have an awesome community vibe. Much of the time we see the same core group of regional athletes attending, which is a great group of people and allows for some really strong competition, particularly for us in the women’s field! The vibe is always friendly among the racers, and there is always great spectator and volunteer support at the venues. The XTERRA REAL course is super fun. It’s a great little mountain bike loop that offers a good variety of technical elements, fast riding and beautiful scenery. You get to do two laps so it gives you a chance to re-try anything you may not have nailed on the first lap! The swim is COLD so early in the year, but it’s nice and short, so you get out quick! The run is one of my favorites. It’s almost all on hard-packed dirt so it’s fast, but there are a couple big hills that really hurt!”
Over in Texas the XTERRA Bluebonnet off-road tri is the first race in the South Central Region this year and the first of five in the Texas XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon Series.
“The Pure Austin Fitness XTERRA Bluebonnet Off-Road Triathlon will challenge even the toughest athlete with miles of rugged single track and screaming fast downhill trails that cut across exposed granite outcrops and beautiful fields of wildflowers,” said race director Joel Grimmett. “Overlooking Lake Buchanan and Inks Lake, Reveille Peak Ranch showcases the spectacular geology of the Llano Uplift. The ranch’s location and amenities create a unique event venue and destination, with perfect trails, glorious views and natural treasures.”
These events also mark the start of the chase for XTERRA Regional Championship titles and the qualifying spot into XTERRA Worlds that goes with it. See How it Works for specifics.
XTERRA Schedule: http://www.xterraplanet.com/races/xterra/