XTERRA Lory, the first of seven XTERRA America Tour races in Colorado and first of 10 in the Mountain Region, takes place Saturday at Lory State Park in Bellvue.
The race is known for its scenic swim in Horsetooth Reservoir with canyon walls on both sides, its slip n’ slide finish line, and beginner-friendly atmosphere. Lance Panigutti, the race director and co-owner of Without Limits Productions based out of Boulder, has even instituted a unique wave start scenario that ranks athletes foremost by their mountain biking ability.
“It came down to new way to improve the racer experience,” explained Panigutti. “In all our road tri's we do the typical age group wave starts, with a first timers wave at the back, and that's worked well. When we created XTERRA Lory the best factor of the race was its 95% single-track, but 2 laps of 95% single-track also became our biggest limiting factor to a great race experience. So the way we set things up was to group athletes by mountain bike ability first and then swim ability second in case we saw a "bubble" of the same ranked mountain bike ability. Overall it's been a great system and something we've carried over to every one of our XTERRA events. The racers love it as congestion on the course is minimized, so that's all that matters in the end.”
Lory is billed as the perfect kick off to the season for the seasoned off-road triathlete, or a great opportunity for the road triathlete wanting to try out a mountain bike triathlon for the first time.
“Lance is a great guy and we’ve been racing his events for many years now,” said XTERRA Pro and EPC Coach Cody Waite. “This weekend Kathy and I are both racing and we will have a big group of EPC athletes there. Lance does a great job at attracting ‘newbie’ off-road triathletes.”
While Panigutti will produce four XTERRA races this season, he also puts on road triathlons, cyclocross, cycling, aquathlons, and running races as well – providing a big base of athletes to expose off-road triathlon to.
“We're able to introduce the XTERRA lifestyle across our entire platform of athletes (coed road tri's, all women's tri's, half ironmans, cyclocross races, etc…) so we've seen a lot of crossover from our other events,” said Panigutti. “Athletes know what to expect and trust that it's a professionally organized event, so it's easy to get someone to dabble on the dirt. Once they try it once we all know they're hooked and never go back!”
Panigutti himself seems to have got hooked on XTERRA thanks to his brother Tony – who was racing off-road when the Mountain Championship was still in Keystone.
“Tony and I started Without Limits and in year two we created the Fat Tire Triathlon which would go on to become XTERRA Lory in 2009. We introduced XTERRA Curt Gowdy in 2012, then XTERRA Buffalo Creek last year (which was revived after 4 years from previous race management), and this year we’re excited to introduce XTERRA Aspen Valley.”
Panigutti says Aspen Valley, scheduled for July 26 – a week after the July 19 Mountain Championship at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, CO – is “truly the most unique and special venue/course I have yet to find in the nation!”
For those following Panigutti and Company around the region he notes that each of his XTERRA events is set up to build on itself.
“Lory is very beginner friendly, Curt Gowdy is technical but short, Aspen is on par with Curt Gowdy but longer swim and super unique wood features you won't find at any other race, and Buffalo Creek isn't super technical but the longest swim, longest and most physically challenging bike, and longest run,” explained Panigutti.
The 2014 season in Colorado seems headed for a perfect start as the conditions at Lory State Park are the best Panigutti has ever seen them.
“Lake water is finally at 100% and the trails, normally on the sandy side, are damp and tacky. The park has also done a lot of restoration work getting the trail system in shape for this year’s race.”
Learn more at www.WITHOUTLIMITS.com and to hear Lance talk about his passion for XTERRA, camping with the crew, and dream venue at Aspen Valley listen to this recent interview with Over The Top Radio.