Brought to you by OOFOS, Official Recovery Footwear of XTERRA
In 2018, XTERRA and OOFOS partnered to launch the “OOFOS Great Descents Series,” which recognizes a dedicated section of the course at each of the five major XTERRA tri and trail run series stops in the U.S. Additionally, the series will highlight the benefit of recovery, which your legs will need after screaming down those hills.
While the XTERRA America Tour is chock full of amazing uphill and downhill trails, the course at the XTERRA Pan Am Championship in Snowbasin, Utah may have the most perfect descents imaginable. The footing is sure and clean, the switchbacks are bermed, and the grade has the perfect amount of slope so you can let go and truly fly.
XTERRA Pan Am Championship
At the XTERRA Pan Am Championship on September 15th, the OOFOS Great Descent is a fast and furious downhill section of the course about 400 feet from the finish line. Athletes running the 10K and 5K events at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship on September 16th, will also run down the OOFOS Great Descent.
This particular OOFOS Great Descent was selected by Chris Appleton, who has been designing XTERRA’s epic courses for more than 15 years.
“The OOFOS Great Descent for the sprint and full-course XTERRA is about a sixth of a mile on the last downhill in the race and it will end about 400 yards from the finish line,” said Appleton. “It’s such a great section of the course. There are enough switchbacks and rocks to force you to pay attention to your feet, so it’s challenging, like the rest of this course. But as you come down this hill, the crowd will be cheering and the finish line is right there, and we all know how amazing that is. This Great Descent is all about the joy of XTERRA.”
“If you take advantage of the switchback, it’s a great opportunity to gain valuable seconds on your competition,” said Darren Brown, head of marketing for OOFOS and 2017 XTERRA Beaver Creek Trail Run Champ. “Rather than try to brake when approaching a turn, try shortening your stride a few feet from the turn and lean in. Once you are at the top of the switchback, resume your regular stride.”
XTERRA Trail Run National Championship
If you are entering the 21K on Sunday, September 16th, the descent from Sardine Peak is one of the most majestic and magnificent descents you will ever run. First though, you have to get there.
Shortly after mile five, you will begin climbing up Sardine Peak, which is a lung-buster, for sure. While you may be tempted to get that two and a half mile climb over with, 2017 XTERRA Trail Run National Champ, Lesley Paterson, advises against going up too quickly.
“At altitude, you want to remain well within yourself,” she said. “If you go all out, you can cross that red line, and there may be no return.”
The most important thing to remember going up is to stay calm. You may feel short of breath, so definitely ease back when you need to and remember that it will soon be worth it. The second most important thing to remember is to enjoy the spectacular views you will earn on the way up. Near Ogden Overlook, the vista on the left will make you stop in your tracks – which isn’t a bad thing. We promise that this view will make you glad you came.
Sardine Peak tops out at about 7300 feet, where the ultimate great descent begins. For the next two and a half miles, the gentle grade and clear trail give you a textbook opportunity to practice everything you learned about running downhill.
"Without bending over, I lean forward so my torso is perpendicular to the slope of the hill," described Josiah Middaugh, two-time XTERRA Pan Am World Champ. "I focus on landing my foot underneath my center of gravity, to avoid any braking. Braking not only slows down your pace, but it also increases the amount of eccentric loading and fatigue placed on the muscles, leading to faster late-race fatigue and a higher level of soreness in the days that follow."
Again, use the switchbacks to your advantage by shortening your stride just before, and if you feel a bit timid, take the high edge of the berm, where the footing is better. If you can gain a second or two for every switchback on this course, it can add up to over a minute on the clock.
There are few rocks and roots on the way down, and while it’s always good to be careful about where you place your feet, the great descent from Sardine Peak is your chance to let loose and enjoy the rewards of your fitness. This time of year, the shade is cool, the sun is warm, and the fall colors are starting to burn red on the mountains. As you shake some elevation, the yellow poplars and Black-eyed Susans will guide you down towards Wheeler Creek.
Before the finish, you’ll head back up again - so save a little something for that - but after the climb to Sardine Peak, it’s nothing you can’t handle.
After the race, make sure you visit the OOFOS representatives on-site. They are more than willing to jump start your race recovery right there with tips, techniques, and OOFOS shoes to try. The proprietary OOfoam technology absorbs 37 percent more impact than traditional foams, which decreases the stress on tired hips, back, and legs.