For the third year in a row, the XTERRA Blackwater event in Milton, Florida has sold out almost a month before the April first race date.
“One of the reasons the XTERRA Blackwater is so popular is because the course is challenging for experts but accessible enough for those just entering off-road events,” said race director, Ben Dillon.
Don Morrison of West Brandywine, Pennsylvania is leaving the snowy northeast to kickoff his XTERRA season by doubling up with the XTERRA Blackwater on Saturday and the XTERRA Blackwater Trail Run on Sunday.
"I travel to XTERRA races every year because it's not just about the race. It's an adventure with new trails, new friends, and great stories," says Morrison. "At age 67, I have slowed down a bit, but the enjoyment of being in the woods is what it's all about."
As of early March, the water temperature was a chilly 65-degrees, so wetsuits are encouraged. After the 800-yard swim in Bear Lake, competitors will jump on a two-lap, twelve mile trail consisting of single track, fire road, and a brief stretch of pavement. The following 3.75-mile run is on well-maintained single track, with just enough rocks and roots to keep things interesting.
Having participated in more than 30 XTERRA races all over the world, Ben Dillon knows how to put on a great race. He is the founder of Blackwater Multisport, the organization behind both XTERRA events. “I was drawn to XTERRA because I could train for the races the way I used to train when I was an Aviation Rescue Swimmer in the Navy.”
U.S. Navy Aviation Rescue Swimmers are one of the top emergency response teams in the world. They routinely complete rescue missions in some of the most extreme environments, including mountain rescues, missions at sea, and humanitarian efforts in remote locations during natural disasters.
“The motto of every Aviation Rescue Swimmer is ‘So Others May Live,” says Dillon. “It’s a privilege to serve at this level, and after I separated from the Navy, I wanted to keep giving back. XTERRA’s “Live More” philosophy is aligned to my own beliefs, and I love to see people test their limits and succeed."