Everything is big in Texas, especially XTERRA.
Last year, some of our favorite tales from the trails came out of the Lone Star State. Fire fighters Andy Lee and Kyle Grieser and water-safety proponent, Alissa Magrum inspired us with their bravery and commitment to saving lives, as well as their talent on the dirt. 2017 rookie Jordan Winar made it all the way to the XTERRA World Championship on sheer will, lots of racing, and a ton of hard work while Jenny Burden and Sara Kraftcheck showed us what true friendship looks like.
The man most responsible for enabling these adventurists to discover their best selves is Joel Grimmett (pictured above with Texas racers Nicole Dorholt #382 and Jeanne Hoffman #499), the race director for five of the six races on the 2018 XTERRA South Central region racing calendar. Grimmett is so loved by Texas XTERRA athletes that last year, they raised money for him to go to the XTERRA National Championship with them.
We recently caught up with Grimmett to learn more about him…
Q. What was the first race you ever put on?
A. The first race that I put on was XTERRA Camp Eagle. Fortunately, everything went smoothly. My second race was XTERRA Bluebonnet at Reveille Peak. Everything was running well until a course marker at a critical intersection was knocked down. The top racers got off course during the run and were extremely upset. I had to endure some very angry feedback. This was a difficult but valuable learning experience that influences how I design and mark courses today.
Q. What made you want to put on races?
A. I’ve been a bike racer for many years and volunteered at several events along the way. I met the guys from Race Revolutions who recruited me to help out at some XTERRA events. When they offered to sell the company to me, I jumped on the opportunity. It was a good fit for me after working for 10 years as the executive director of nonprofit facility.
Q. What is your athletic background? Are you a triathlete or trail runner?
A. Neither! I’ve been racing road and mountain bikes since 1992. I always excelled at longer endurance type multi-day stage races. Some of my favorite races include the Tour of the Gila, that I raced 13 times, and the Trans Alp Challenge, an 8-day mountain bike race that started in Germany, went through Austria and ended in Italy. Some other memorable races include La Ruta de los Conquistadores, a coast-to-coast race in Costa Rica, and the Trans Andes Challenge, a race that I crashed out of on the 3rd day of six and was in 3rd place. I plan on going back to Chile to finish this race!
I’ve always been a swimmer and I used to enjoy running but I literally can’t run because I have degenerative joint disease in my ankle. What cartridge I have left has delaminated from the bone so running is out of the question.
Q. Can you talk a bit about how you scout for and find courses? What kinds of trails make great races and how do you know?
A. I have a few of ways to finding new courses. Racers recommend new locations, I do web searches, and sometimes, even property owners call me about their land.
Not to sound too obvious, but finding a clean, safe body of water is essential. Then I make sure there is a good flow between the water and trails. If all checks out, I look at how technical the trails are and if I can separate the bike from the run. I repeatedly ride the trails with my GPS and study the maps at home. From there, it’s all up to the governing agency or landowner to give me the access to make the race happen.
The best courses have a mix of intermediate and technical sections. You want the course to be challenging for your best racers but no so technical that you scare the new racers off.
Q. Many of the athletes in your region are extremely supportive of rookies and beginners. How have you fostered that community spirit?
A. We do our part to encourage and support rookies and beginners but really all the credit needs to go to our athletes and ambassadors. We are lucky to have an awesome group who are friendly and supportive. When you have so many races, you get to know each other. We really are like one big family.
2018 XTERRA South Central Region Races
|March 24||XTERRA Bluebonnet (Bryan, TX)|
|April 21||XTERRA ATX (Austin, TX)|
|May 26||XTERRA Rock Dallas (Flower Mound, TX)|
|June 9||XTERRA Cameron Park/USAT Off-Road Nationals (Waco, TX)|
|July 14||XTERRA Magnolia Hill (Navasota, TX)|
|August 11||XTERRA Muleshoe (Spicewood, TX)|
|September 8th||XTERRA Gator Terra (Arkadelphia, AR) *Part of 2019 series|