On Sunday, August 19th, Anders Johnson and Lucy Collins captured the titles at XTERRA Wild Ride in McCall, Idaho. Held at Ponderosa State Park, the race included a .75 mile swim, an 18.5-mile mountain bike ride on new single track, and a 6.2-mile trail run.
Anders had a sizable lead and won the race in 2:05:21 while Rolph Decker was second in 2:18:34. Raul Garcia was third in 2:19:56.
For the women, Collins claimed the podium’s top spot with a time of 2:23:23 while former XTERRA elite Jenny Tobin was second in 2:26:50 and Stephanie Arnold was third in 2:27:37. The top three women all finished in the top 10 overall.
XTERRA Wild Ride is an iconic race in one of the most remote and beautiful areas of the country, which is why it has been on Cindy Toepel’s bucket list for some time. Toepel is a seven-time XTERRA Age Group World Champ and an 11-time XTERRA Age Group National Champ. This year, she competed at XTERRA Wild Ride and won the 65-69 age group. Her husband, Circ Toepel was onsite and provided a race report:
Your first indication this event is going to be something extraordinary is the stunning drive up through the canyon from Boise. The rushing waters of the winding Payette River present a prelude to the excitement of another Wild Rockies XTERRA. Payette Lake is a popular playground with the resort town of McCall on the shoreline. McCall was a logging community back in the day and there is much evidence in the form of rustic old buildings made of solid, rough-hewn lumber. It is interesting to tour McCall’s Main Street just for the architecture alone.
With the help of collaboration from the Park, race director Darren Lightfield built a significant portion of the trail network at Ponderosa and it quickly becomes obvious that he has a pedigree in trail construction. The trails here flow and use the terrain so effectively you find yourself becoming one with the land. On the north end, there are some testy climbs that get your heart rate up and push your legs to screaming just as you reach the crest for a much needed reprieve. The rocks, roots, and trees keep riders on their toes while entering the zen zone of rhythmic single track.
The 9:00 start was a bit cool at 5,000 feet’ but warmed up nicely into the 80’s for the bike and run. Most competitors chose to wear a wetsuit for the 1000 meter swim as the water temp hovered in the mid 60’s. Erin Lyons from Bozeman gave the boys a spanking by being first out of the water in 12:26. Dave Gettle, who is no boat anchor, arrived at the shoreline 35 seconds later. Erin has a background of swimming and said, “I’m pretty used to beating most, if not all of the boys out of the water!”
Out on the bike Anders Johnson from Huntsville, Utah pulled out a can of whoop ass to smoke the 17 miles of Ponderosa single track in 1:04:59 for the boys. Anders summed up the event by saying “I love racing in McCall; it’s one of the most beautiful places to me. Great event put on by some great organizers!” The men’s race for second and third was close until Rolph Decker edged out Raul Garcia with a 44:47 10K run.
The quality of single track at Ponderosa draws athletes from all the surrounding northwest states, which have their own killer single track. It even draws seasoned veterans like Michael and Jenny Tobin out of retirement for a little fun, although I’m not sure how retired Jenny actually is, as she posted the fastest run split for the women of 46:56 which propelled her to second place overall and family bragging rights. Jenny may have had some help as Michael stopped to help a competitor with a broken chain. I wonder if the rider knew that his chain was being repaired by a previous XTERRA World Champion! It takes a special kind of humble to provide that kind of service.
Lucy Collins crushed the two-lap course for the women, bringing her bike back to the lake in 1:14:47. After taking the overall win in 2:23:22, Lucy shocked us all by saying “That was my first triathlon and I had a blast! I’ll be back next year.” Lucy, we see more medals in your future! Stephanie Arnold from Anchorage, Alaska rounded out the top three women. This race even more exciting to watch than the men’s race as less than one minute separated second and third the entire way.
During the awards and raffle - with lots of very coveted swag - we enjoyed homemade burritos and beer. We were also treated to several high profile locals strolling through the transition area.