By race director Bob Horn...
As is usually expected at the XTERRA Jersey Devil everyone is always worried about the water temp come race day, given the race is held in late April down in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, and morning air temp can also be a little chilly. This years race definitely held true to those parameters, as the water temp was a brisk 58-degrees and the air temp around 50 at race start. However, once the horn was blown to start the race, the competition quickly heated things up, and the weather even cooperated turning to sunny skies and temps in the low 60s at the finish. The race saw a number of XTERRA veterans getting their 2015 seasons off to a great start in preparation for the big Regional Championships races coming up in May and June.
The race got off to a fast start as Adam Webber, noted more for his road triathlon fame, as an ex-USAT athlete of the year, but relatively new to XTERRA (he won the Richmond Sprint in 2014), scorched the swim and opened up a commanding lead out of the swim, finishing almost a full minute out of the water from the closest competitor. Behind him however, was a large pack, including the likes of Rob Ricard (2014 XTERRA Athlete of the Year, and defending XTERRA Jersey Devil champ,) and William Allen (XTERRA USA Age Group Champ from 2014 in UTAH). Also in that next pack was the Womens leader out of the swim Meredith Jones (2012 XTERRA Jersey Devil champ), looking to take an early lead on her closest competitors.
After the quarter-mile run back to transition it was onto the bike. The XTERRA Jersey Devil bike course is super fast, as the New Jersey Pine Barrens are not known for having any hills. That doesn’t mean it is not without its tricky sections. Unfortunately race leader out of the swim Adam Webber encountered one of these areas early on in the bike, and suffered a compound fracture to his arm and was forced out of the race (We wish Adam a speedy recovery and hope to see him back at the XTERRA Jersey Devil again next year). This left the door wide open for Ricard and Allen to take the lead on the bike. The two battled the entire bike course and really pushed each other the entire time, creating quite a lead amongst themselves. Even with XTERRA powerhouses behind them like Daryl Weaver and Josh Loren, and a few others working together to gain some ground it looked like the race was coming down to these too.
The women’s race was also being solidified on the bike course. Katrina Dowidchuk used her superior mountain biking skills to gain control and overtake Meredith Jones and a few other very fast female swimmers. Katrina put together a 55:40 bike split, almost bettering her closest competitor, Amanda Rosen, by 10 minutes.
Now it was on to the run, what is clearly the best part of the XTERRA Jersey Devil. Well, after her dominating performance on the bike the race seemed to be all sown up for Katrina. All she needed to do was really cruise on the run and she would have the win. But I guess that is not Katrina’s style as she went on to post the fasted run split of the day as well on the women’s side, and when it was all said and done she had a convincing win over 2nd place Amanda Rosen, and 3rd Meredith Jones.
Now back to the men’s race. So everyone usually checks out the bike course before an XTERRA, but the XTERRA Jersey Devil run course is definitely one you need to check out if you want to be in the mix for the overall win. And lucky for Rob Ricard he did just that, checking out the run course earlier in the weekend certainly gave him an advantage. Out of the bike transition William Allen had created a slight gap on Rob heading out into the run. William did all he could to hold Rob off, and both looked to be tearing through the tough run course, blasting through the swamps and mud found on the course. But in the end Rob picked his pace correctly and wound up with the fasted run split of the day and a 10-second win over William. It was certainly a great race to watch. And surely both these competitors are in great early season form heading to Alabama and then Richmond, in the next couple of months.
Thanks to all the competitors of the 2015 XTERRA Jersey Devil, this year’s race I think was the best yet, we hope you are all back for 2016 and will bring some more friends along to share in the experience.
For a complete list of results check out: http://raceforum.com/2015/xterraag.htm, and for photos of the race check out: https://joegawinskixterrajerseydevil.shutterfly.com/