In the U.S. “XTERRA” has become synonymous with off-road triathlon. In Europe, they call it “cross triathlon.” Next Saturday, May 19, the two worlds collide at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships / XTERRA Southeast Championship.
While the trails at Oak Mountain State Park are familiar to the XTERRA tribe as a regional championship stop since 2006, the format is completely new. Instead of the entire field, pros and amateurs alike, taking off all at once, this time each category will have their own start – Junior men, Junior Women, Paratriathletes, Age Group Men, Age Group Women, Pro Men and Pro Women. The racing will start at 7:30 in the morning and last until nearly 7:30 at night.
For elites in XTERRA, mixing in with the age group field has always been part of the deal – for better or worse – but now they have their own spotlight. The pro women start at 1:30pm with no one on the course in front of them and no one except each other chasing them from behind. The men will get started at 4pm – the marquee event – and just imagine how fun it’ll be to see several hundred athletes from the age group field along with friends, family, and spectators all over the park cheering on the fastest humans on earth as they chase each other through the forest.
“I really enjoyed the lap courses for the bike and run in Spain,” said Stoltz after the inaugural ITU Cross Tri World Title last year. “The crowds were great, and because of the multiple loops spectators could really get into it.”
From one spot on the shore of Double Oak Lake a spectator could watch the swim start, see the pros come out of the water for a short beach shuffle before jumping back in, watch them in transition, watch them go by three times on the bike, head back into transition, and go by once more on the run before heading to the finish line to see who takes the tape
“It’s going to be awesome,” said XTERRA President Janet Clark. “The beauty of lap racing is you can see the changes, the passing, and it will happen so fast. “
Certainly a lot faster than the one-hour it has taken the fastest rider to complete the single-loop bike course that – make no mistake - is killer, it’s just way out there in the boonies where no one is around.
“Yep, won’t have to wait an hour and half, we’ll see them every 20 minutes or less,” said Clark. “Now you’ll really be able to get into it and feel like you’re part of the action. You can see who’s hot, who’s not, cheer for Team USA or your favorite racer or county and they’ll have names on their butt (see picture above) so you can scream for them and provide a bit of adrenaline to push your guy or gal along. At the same time you’re at a beautiful park, in nature, on what is sure to be a splendid Saturday afternoon. The BBQ is on, the kids are swimming, and everyone is enjoying the healthy, active, outdoors lifestyle.”
Other Relevant Links
Shelby County – www.shelbycountytourism.org
XTERRA - www.xterrapelham.com
ITU – www.triathlon.org/events
Facebook – www.facebook.com/xterraplanet
Twitter – www.twitter.com/xterraoffroad hashtag #shelbycross
Results - www.jtltiming.com/multisport.htm