Meet an Elite: Katharine Carter

Jul. 14, 2016

Josiah Middaugh isn’t the only elite racing this weekend with some local knowledge of the trails around Beaver Creek. In the women’s race we have Katharine Carter, who spent some time living and working in the Vail Valley and is now in her rookie year racing pro.

When she’s not racing, Carter works as a biomedical engineer at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute at the Vail Valley Medical Center.

In her pro debut at XTERRA Mine over Matter last month she finished fourth in front of a bunch of family and friends in the Toronto area. On Saturday, she’ll try to improve on that performance in front of yet another collection of local supporters here in Colorado.

We caught up with Katharine recently to learn more about her…

XTERRA: When was your first XTERRA?
Katharine Carter: July 2012, XTERRA Mountain Championships. I had just moved to Vail, Colorado earlier that week and heard about this strange type of triathlon was happening. With no previous swim training, my big all-mountain bike from BC, and little realization that racing at altitude might be a tad bit harder, I did the XTERRA. I think I almost came last in my age group. But I loved every second! I've been hooked on XTERRA ever since.

XT: You've moved around a lot ... how come?
KC: Partly for work, partly for adventure. I'm originally from the Toronto area, but after doing grad school in Vancouver, British Columbia I got offered a job working in the hospital in Vail, Colorado. I couldn't resist the opportunity to live/work in a ski town. My boyfriend (now husband) Paul & I moved down there and after a few seasons of rocky mountain powder Paul got a spot in an MBA program in Cape Town, South Africa. So we picked up and moved there for a year. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There is also a large triathlon community and the XTERRA is by far one of my favorites. Most of the flights out of South Africa go through Europe, so it also gave me a chance to try out some of the European circuit (ie. XTERRA England, France & Germany). After a short stint in Chicago for Paul to finish up the MBA, we have settled back in North Vancouver (at least for now...)

XT: Where were you born and raised?
KC:  In Brampton, Ontario, home of Russell Peters :)

XT: What's your background, were you a mtb'er or triathlete or runner or swimmer?
KC:  If anything I was a tennis player growing up, but I got into mountain biking and triathlon during university. Let's just say that I was mostly doggie-paddling until a few years ago.

XT: What made you decide to go pro this year?
KC:  I want the challenge! I have been steadily increasing my training/racing over the past few years and I've reached that point where I want to stand on the line beside these amazing other women pros and just see how I can do.

XT:  How was XTERRA Mine Over Matter?
KC: Awesome! It was a very fast course. The bike course was tight, twisty, lots of corners and technical skills really was the name of the game. I grew up not too far from the race course so it was a special feeling to be on home turf and to have all my family (3 dogs included) out there to support me. And I couldn't ask for a better breakout race into the pro ranks! I felt great that day and was very happy to come in 4th.

XT: What do you think about the Pan Am Series and the open invite to race in Utah for Canadian racers?
KC: I think the Pan Am series is a great idea. It's a chance for us to travel to places we wouldn't otherwise, experience other cultures and boost the sport of XTERRA in other countries.

XT: Why do you like XTERRA?
KC:  Every race is different. Some are flat and fast, some have grueling climbs, or technical mountain biking sections, or are ultra-muddy, or have man-made obstacles. That, and the community of people. I've never done a sport that had such friendly people, they leave everything they have out on the course and then sit back & drink a beer after. What's not to love?

XT: What do you do for a living when you’re not racing?
KC:  I'm a biomedical engineer, working for an orthopaedic clinic doing research on new MRI sequences. My work has been a great motivation not to injure myself. I know what all the nasty joint injuries look like inside and out, and believe me, it's not pretty. If you hurt anything then let me know, maybe we can get you in our next study as a test subject ;)

XT: When did you become Katharine Carter (neh Wilson)?
KC: One year ago! Woo hoo. July 2nd, 2015. Paul doesn't race XTERRA but he's one of my best training partners. He drives me a little crazy sometimes because while I train a lot, he trains just enough to stay faster than me on everything. Typical!

XT: Favorite all-time XTERRA race?
KC: XTERRA France. That's one grueling adventure. From the 1000-person mass swim start, to the muddy mountain pass you go up over twice, the huge man-made wood ramps/structures, to the ultra-muddy/rocky trail run. Allez allez!

XT: Best XTERRA moment?
KC: Winning my age group at US Nationals in 2013. It was a complete surprise. I am not a great swimmer and I knew girls had gotten out of the water ahead of me, and I spent the whole bike/run trying to chase them down. I never saw any of them. Turns out I passed them all in the swim/bike transition :)