On November 17th, Jeff Melcher and Jess White captured the titles at XTERRA Blackwater.
Jeff Melcher won with a time of 1:47:44. Chuck Olinger was second with a time of 1:50:03 and Steve Colburn was third with a time of 1:53:39.
In the women’s race, XTERRA Blackwater defending champ Jess White won with a time 2:00:16. Elizabeth Skiba was second in 2:05:24 and Susan Griffee was third in 2:11:28.
XTERRA Blackwater, just outside of Tampa, attracted athletes from all over the country. Olinger traveled from Texas, Melcher traveled from Wisconsin, and the race included athletes from the Carolinas, Colorado, Alabama, and Illinois, just to name a few.
Jim Dandro drove about nine hours from his home in North Carolina to XTERRA Blackwater.
“I didn’t know Florida got so cold,” said Dandro who camped out in his van. A 2018 XTERRA Regional Champ, Dandro and his wife returned from Maui last month where he competed in the XTERRA World Championship and she competed in the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Run.
The course was initially supposed to be an 800-meter swim, a 19-mile bike ride, and a 3.75-mile run. However, recent rains compromised the water quality, so the 2018 XTERRA Blackwater consisted of a 1500 meter run in lieu of the swim.
“The race directors flawlessly switched to a duathlon because of bacteria in the water,” said Jeanie Hoffman, who traveled from Texas to the race with Lua Walter, from Louisiana.
Dandro was also relieved at the change in course. “It was 37 degrees out that morning and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to getting out of the water and jumping on my bike.”
“We had a great time meeting other athletes – both seasoned and new,” added Hoffman. “They represented what ‘One Tribe’ means to so many of us. These were genuine, laid-back, not afraid to get dirty, not type-A athletes. We had a blast.”
Hoffman and Walter, who both competed in the XTERRA World Championship last month said that XTERRA Blackwater’s flat, fast course felt great after the mud in Maui.
“What a great way to kick off the 2019 season.”
XTERRA Blackwater was a points scoring race for those chasing 2019 XTERRA America Tour regional titles. The full 2019 schedule and series structure will be posted soon.