XTERRA DINO might not be what you expect. (For one, it's pronounced DEE-no.) For another, it has nothing to do with dinosaurs - although the course in Southern Indiana certainly has some teeth.
"I thought the course would be in a cornfield," said Larry Klutenkamper, who drove from Missouri to race XTERRA DINO on July 15th. "Then we drove down a huge hill into Versailles State Park, which was incredible." (It's pronounced Ver - SALES.)
"Versailles is one of the best mountain bike trails around," said race director, Brian Holzhausen. "I think people are surprised by how challenging it is."
XTERRA DINO Southern Indiana is known for its tough mountain bike course and grueling run. Despite - or because of - this, the race is gaining in popularity. This year, XTERRA DINO had a record number of participants.
"On the bike, I was riding right next to a bluff," said Klutenkamper, who was the 55-59 age-group champ. "And the run was crazy hard. I think I ran up a quarter mile of stairs. Up and down, roots and rocks."
XTERRA DINO Northern Indiana, which will be held August 5th in South Bend's Potato Creek State Park, is a more beginner-friendly course.
"XTERRA DINO Northern Indiana is flatter than the course at Versailles," said Holzhausen. "The hills are smaller and it's a better course for beginners because the swim and run are shorter distances. On the other hand, it's great for all levels because you can really get up some speed. It's a playful course and with flowy trails."
XTERRA DINO Northern Indiana is also the closest XTERRA event to Chicago, making it a key race for those in midwest and Great Lakes region.
Holzhausen and his wife Amanda have been putting on the DINO races since 2001. The series got its name from an earlier set of mountain bike races in the 1990s called "Do-INdiana Off Road," or DINO.
They have a loyal following of athletes including Chris Scott, Mimi Stockton, and Russ Goodman, who have each won their divisions 10 times. (You may know Mimi from the XTERRA Couch to Trail Series.)
In XTERRA DINO Southern Indiana, the course took a bite out of Stockton's tire, leaving it beyond repair. This left Kristen Wade the task of catching Amanda Frost, whose swim put her a minute in the lead. Wade did so in short order, gaining four minutes on the bike.
Frost finished the race with Klutenkamper. On Facebook, Frost wrote about XTERRA DINO:
Decided to do a little swim in a lake, then a bike through the woods followed by a trail run in Indiana this morning. Ended up with a little hardware too. Finished 2nd overall but that wasn't the best part.
On the run, I met a gentleman, Larry, who I ran with basically the whole race. We talked (sorta between gasps of air), learned about our families and about other races we had done. If it hadn't been for him talking to me and encouraging me I would have gone much slower. It reminded me what these races are about. The journey, the experience, and the people that you meet.
In the men's division, "Neal Ross went through T1 in the lead, but Dalton Guggemos absolutely crushed the bike split, catapulting him into the lead," said Holzhausen. "It then became a matter of whether Guggemos could hold the lead on a steadily closing Ross, during the run. Near the end of the brutally difficult first half of the run, Ross made the pass and extended it for just over a one-minute win."
View complete results of XTERRA DINO Southern Indiana at www.dinoseries.com.
Learn more and register for XTERRA DINO Northern Indiana at www.dinoseries.com.
Photos courtesy of Lara Delaney Houseman and Amanda Frost