On Sunday, April 23rd, XTERRA heads to Myrtle Beach for a unique race that combines imaginative and technical trails with a beginner-friendly atmosphere and a water taxi to the start.
“I’ve been doing triathlons for 6 years and this is by far the most fun I’ve had in a race,” said 2016 second place finisher Dwayne Dixon. “The atmosphere at XTERRA is unlike any other. Everyone is super cool and very friendly. This was my first XTERRA and I’ve already met some great people and exceptional athletes. I’m hooked and looking forward to the season ahead.”
The race’s one-of-a-kind swim start begins with a boat ride taxi to the starting line. When the gun goes off, competitors will swim 1000 meters point to point in the Intercoastal Waterway and then run up a boat ramp for the first transition.
The bike portion will surprise many, with a challenging and technical course that will engage racers over two laps to cover 14 miles along the coast of the beautiful outer banks. Nicknamed “The Hulk,” because of its similarity to the Universal Studios Hulk roller coaster, the trail changes elevations, twists, turns, and then drops steeply. The scenery changes often, from waterway views to grassy meadows, to thick jungle-like sections.
Race director Pete Politis is known for improving the course every year. First, he made the swim a point to point to prevent athletes from having to swim against a heavy tide. Since then, he’s been constantly improving the trails and making the course more technical from additional switch backs and steep drops to the mountain bike trails to taking the five mile run completely off road.
“The boys and girls down in Myrtle Beach, with the leadership of Pete Politis, completely revamped the run course,” said Marcus Barton, the 2016 third place finisher. “When I say “completely”, I mean they built all new trails, added on to the Horry County Bike and Run Park, and made the 5 mile run almost completely off-road.”
“Our goal is to make the course more sustainable,” said race director Pete Politis. “The mountain bike course doesn’t have rocks or heavily wooded areas, so the technical features are man made. You will find multiple double switchbacks that bring balance and gearing into play.”
Politis adds that the run course is also customized for running rather than cycling. “Most of the running trail is in the shade. We’ve also built the trail without berms and made the turns less sharp so it’s pretty ideal for racing.”