NEW USA CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE “ROCKS,” ADDS SINGLETRACK AND STUNNING VIEWS
The U.S. Forest Service started work on the Sardine Peak Trail near Snowbasin Resort three years ago and for the first-time in XTERRA racing history, it is ready to ride. The new 7+ mile section of single and double track is the sweetest and smoothest piece of trail on the mountain, and makes the bike course “a true mountain race course that weaves in-and-out of aspen glades and pines,” said Snowbasin Resort sport event operations director Steve Andrus.
XTERRA USA Championship Course Quick Stats:
Swim course distance: 1,500-meters (0.93 miles) Combines two 750-meter laps (no run in-between)
For the full tour, let’s start from the beginning when the cannon blast at 9am on September 24, 2011 signals the start of the 11th annual invite-only XTERRA USA Championship race.
More than 300 professional and amateur racers from more than 40 states will take off from Port Ramp Marina all-at-once for a 1500-meter swim (two 750-meter laps) in Pineview Reservoir, where water temps hover near the "wetsuit-required" range (Competitor note: a final determination on if this will be a wetsuit legal or optional swim will not be made until the water temperature is read on race morning, so be prepared).
Swim Prime Alert: The top amateur male and female, timed from swim start to the exit of T1, will win a XTERRA Vortex 3 Full wetsuit.
Once on the bike racers leave the swim-to-bike transition (T1) and head west towards the Wheeler Canyon trail head for the 28K mountain bike section. (Competitor note: The first 1.5 miles is on Highway 158, a major road. Ride on the shoulder inside the delineators that will be placed to separate racers from traffic. The Utah Department of Transportation has said we cannot ride in the traffic lanes. Stay inside the delineators. We will assess a minimum of a two-minute penalty to riders caught outside of the lane delineators, and should the police handling traffic stop you, your race is done. When pre-riding we encourage you to park and start at Wheeler Canyon trail head (or park at Snowbasin and coast down to trailhead) because parking is not permitted at Port Ramp Marina.
OK, now to the fun part. For those that have raced the USA Championship in either of the last two years, the first 10-miles through the Wheeler Creek trail are the same. It starts with mild, steady climbs on dirt, rock, and root-ridden mountain trails that climb through the magnificent Wheeler slot canyon. The trail pops out at the Art Nord trail head where riders cross old Snowbasin road and climb up the East Fork trail, then drop down into some speedy descents to the Middle Fork trail, go across old Snowbasin road one more time and connect with the Wheeler Creek Trail. Single track dominates this 10-mile stretch and elevation gains from the water at 4,900-feet to about 7,000-feet before a descent on Middle Fork trail shoots you back down.
The new section starts where the Wheeler Creek Trail meets the Sardine Peak trail. Here riders are in for some more climbing that will take them to the ridgeline, rewarding their efforts with spectacular views of Pineview Reservoir to the right, and Snowbasin to the left.
“It certainly has that ‘wow’ factor, especially with the switchbacks that twist and turn through the fall colors,” said Andrus. “It’s a sensory riot.”
“The new section of the course is so sweet, a constant smooth climb and wide enough to pass,” added local age-group phenom Nick Fisher.
More wide-open vistas of Ogden Canyon lay ahead before the downhill onto Maples trail speeds riders through a meadow filled with wildflowers and back to the bike-to-run transition at the Snowbasin lodge area where spectators will have the chance to see their friends and family coming in.
On to the trail run, the 6.1-mile trail run is pure singletrack minus a wide section coming out of transition that takes runners to the start of Green Pond trail. The 10K single-loop run zigzags its way through aspen groves and fields of wildflowers. There are a few short, very steep uphill’s and about 700-feet of climbing then descending before the jubilation of finishing in front of loads of spectators, cameramen, and a live band jamming away right on the bricks of the fabulous Snowbasin Resort.
(Competitor Note: Headphones, headsets, earbuds, walkmans, iPods, mp3 players or any personal audio device are not to be carried or worn at any time during the race. Bike or run. Variable time penalty for infraction).
XTERRA UTAH LONG COURSE: Starts at 9:20 a.m. and is identical to USA Championship course described above
XTERRA UTAH SHORT COURSE: Starts at 9:40 a.m. Same course as past years. The swim is half-distance, one 750-meter loop. The bike is 19K with roughly 2,300-feet of climbing (it turns back to Snowbasin Resort at end of Wheeler Creek trail instead of heading up Sardine Peak trail). The run is 5K, and cuts off midway through Green Pond trail.
Amateur video shot on Sardine Peak trail (reverse direction from how it will be raced):