Chuck Sloan and Kelli Montgomery won the XTERRA Gator Terra off-road triathlon that doubled as the USA Triathlon Off-Road National Championship on Sunday in Arkansas.
In addition, the top 18 finishers in each age-group qualified to represent Team USA at the 2017 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships next August in Penticton, B.C., Canada.
(Read full USAT release).
One of the 21 age-group winners was Cindi Toepel (pictured), who has also won an unprecedented 11 XTERRA National Titles, and here she brings us her story on the day…
XTERRA is about overcoming adversity. That concept is not supposed to transcend to the Race Director! After several days of torrential rain, Fred Phillips of DLT Events got a call from the Army Corps of Engineers saying that the outflow could not keep up with the inflow of water at DeGray Lake. The transition and compound area which was completely set up needed to be moved to a different location. This call came in about 3pm on the day before the race. The choices were clear; cancel the race or move the transition 5 miles down the road to another marina and construct a brand new run course at the new area. The bike course trails were still accessible from the new location with an added 2 miles each way (hilly road) to enter and exit the trails. Not many race directors would be capable of this challenge let alone take it on. Not one to back down from a challenge, Fred called his crew back. They worked into the night and executed the move with flawless precision.
Low and behold, race morning a new transition appeared, complete with swim, bike and run. The race even started at the pre-scheduled time of 8:30am. The swim was changed to a 2 lap triangle but the distance was still the same at 1500 meters. The already long 19.5-mile bike became a 24-mile course. The bike was also more challenging with the amount of water and mud that had been deposited on the trails. This was evident by the amount of mud that returned to transition with the competitors! The mostly rolling single track received rave reviews in spite of adverse conditions and was worthy of a National Championship race. Because of the limited time to construct the run course, the exact distance was unknown until race day. It turned out to be a punishing 8.6 miles! Because of the added lengths and long distances, Fred opted to eliminate cut off times and allow all competitors that finished to receive official results.
Andrew Kelsey was the first triathlete out of the water in 16:35 followed by Scott Claycomb in 17:13. Abby Johnson was 3rd overall and first female out of the water with a smokin’ time of 18:29. Nate Youngs 2nd overall male had the fastest bike of the day at 1:48:57. Kelli Montgomery, 1st overall woman secured her position early with a bike split of 2:09:40.
Chuck Sloan propelled himself to take 1st overall male with the fastest run split at 1:00:34. Atomic Timing chips gave us a run split of 1:14:54.7 for Abby Johnson which was only 2/10’s faster than Nikki Balderson. Nikki’s great run put her in 2nd place overall women with Kristen Wade rounding out the top 3. Marcus Barton (pictured) solid performance in all 3 events earned his 3rd overall place.
Post-race DLT provided a buffet of baked potatoes, hot dogs (beef and turkey) with all the fixin’s, baked beans, fruit and cookies. Johnny Davis, the 60-64 Champion, was heard saying ‘hot dogs never tasted so good!’
This event was a collaboration between XTERRA and USAT to be the USAT Off Road National Championship race. Congrats to all the National Champions and everyone who finished this epic event!