If you are an off-road athlete, the five-race XTERRA West Region season is one of the most spectacular opportunities you can imagine. From the top of the Sierra Nevada mountain range to the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the West Region takes racers to some of the most beautiful places in the country, including Lake Tahoe, the beaches of Southern California, and the Volcano’s on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Typically, these locations conjure up images of dry mountain single track, beautiful vistas, and lush rainforests. And while this may be the case in spring and summer, many of the athletes in the XTERRA West Region are currently buried under record snowfall this winter.
XTERRA West Regional Champ (35-39) Sian Turner Crespo lives in Truckee, which was hit with over 200 inches of snow in February alone. However, like most XTERRA Warriors, Mother Nature doesn’t scare Crespo.
“I’ve got the XTERRA Pan Am and World titles as goals for this year and have been knuckling down with a lot of quality time on the indoor trainer this winter,” she said. “But I’ve still been running outside in the conditions. Having four huskies who are very willing to run with me definitely helps with the motivation!”
Turner Crespo, who finished second in her age group last year at the XTERRA Pan Am Championship, recently joined Lesley Paterson’s Braveheart clan, and loves being coached by the three-time XTERRA World Champ.
“I thrive on variety and there is no shortage of that with Les. She is challenging me with new things all the time and I’m excited for the season. I think it’s great the rules have changed back to the ‘best three’ races as it makes it a much fairer playing field for those who can’t afford to travel as often.”
Turner Crespo is referring to the revised XTERRA America Tour Rules for 2019, which changed from an ‘every race counts’ system to one that counts just the athletes best three scores of the season.
XTERRA Regional and Pan Am Champ John Stehmeier (50-54), who won the Pan Am Title in his 10th try last year, has also been enjoying the snow and using it to his advantage.
“So far, my training this year consists of snowboarding with my son, a run here and there, and lots of yoga,” said Stehmeier. “I was really happy that the XTERRA America Tour Rules changed back to considering the athletes’ top three races to determine regional champs. I think the season will be even more competitive this year as a result.”
Turner Crespo and Stehmeier will both open their season at XTERRA Oak Mountain in Alabama, and then Stehmeier will be heading to XTERRA Deuces Wild in Show Low for the West Region opener on June 9.
XTERRA Deuces Wild combines an 800-meter swim with a 24K mountain bike ride and finishes with an 8K trail run. The off-road triathlon is part of a two-day endurance festival that also includes an XTERRA relay team competition, a half marathon, and additional triathlons, making it a great event to kick off summer vacation with the family. Like many races in the mountainous west, XTERRA Deuces Wild takes place at altitude – in this case, 6300 feet up – giving you a great opportunity to train for the XTERRA Pan Am Championship, which takes place at about the same elevation outside of Ogden, Utah this September.
Next up is XTERRA Tahoe City on June 29th. The swim consists of 1500 meters in Lake Tahoe, one of the clearest, cleanest, and deepest lakes in North America.
“The water is going to be epically cold this year,” said Turner Crespo, who is no stranger to swimming in cold mountain lakes.
While swimming in Lake Tahoe is never warm, athletes have a chance to heat things back up on the 22-mile mountain bike course, which is going to consist of even more single track than in previous years. The event will finish with a five-mile trail run, which includes incredible views of the lake as you head through aspen-lined trails.
Like so many races in the XTERRA West Region, XTERRA Tahoe City is a great place to stay and play. The area truly comes alive in the summer with outdoor concerts, sunset kayak tours, and incredible hiking and camping adventures.
In fact, Lake Tahoe is such a fantastic destination spot, that you have another chance to enjoy this region from the other side of the lake in Incline Village, Nevada on August 17th at XTERRA Lake Tahoe.
With its traditional-length course and some of the best scenery in the world, this is an adventure you won't want to miss. Like XTERRA Tahoe City, XTERRA Lake Tahoe begins in the lake with a 1500-meter swim and continues with a 22-mile mountain bike ride that includes the epic Flume Trail. You will skirt the side of the mountain and find yourself flying down the Tahoe Rim Trail. The mountain bike section includes about 4000 feet of climbing, but the 10K trail run is relatively flat, fast, and shaded with tall pines and aspens.
A week later the Tour heads across the ocean to what might be the country’s favorite destination spot – Hawaii. Last year, XTERRA Hawaii Island’s inaugural race was a great success despite being held a few days after a massive hurricane ripped across the State.
This year, XTERRA Hawaii Island will be held on August 25th at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort near Waimea. The race will offer 25 qualifying spots for the XTERRA World Championship this October on Maui, it’s how the locals qualify.
The waters are a lot warmer in the South Pacific than in Lake Tahoe, so look forward to the half-mile ocean swim beginning and ending at Hapuna Beach, followed by a grueling two loop, 10-mile bike course traversing over Hapuna Beach Park State land, and then finishing off with a 3.1-mile run at Hapuna Beach Resort.
Coinciding with the end of summer vacation, we can’t think of a better way to get ready for school and autumn than an XTERRA on one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world.
The final XTERRA West Region race of 2019 actually counts towards the 2020 season. XTERRA Laguna Beach on September 8th is a great way to rack up points for next year. Like XTERRA Hawaii Island, you start with an ocean swim (but in colder Pacific Ocean conditions) and then embark on a 25K bike ride through Crystal Cove State Park. This is a tough ride up the region’s famous canyons and gorgeous rock structures. But as in all XTERRA’s the views are worth the climb. You will finish with a fun 10K run that ends back at the beach.
2018 XTERRA West Regional Champ Brian Johnson (45-49) won his age group at XTERRA Laguna Beach last year and is relieved to come into the 2019 XTERRA season with 75 points already.
“I like the new rules,” he said. “It will be good to change things up a bit. My goals are to make the podium at XTERRA Show Low, XTERRA Tahoe City, and XTERRA Lake Tahoe. But really, I like to have fun and see how I compare to the other athletes.”
Johnson’s laidback attitude is pretty common among the chill west coast athletes. While XTERRA Tribe in the West Region certainly throws down in races, they don’t waste time worrying about it beforehand.
Of course, the race of the season for the West Region is the XTERRA Pan Am Championship on September 7th in Ogden, Utah. While technically a race on the XTERRA Pan Am Tour, the Pam Am Champs in Utah is a race that anyone - and everyone - should check out. With fun, pre-race expos in Ogden and an absolutely magnificent course, the XTERRA Pan Am Champs should be on everyone's list. Yes, the water is a bit chilly. But the bike and run courses at Snowbasin Resort are absolutely magnificent. And as always, the XTERRA Tribe is full of support, whether you are a newcomer or someone who has already stood on that podium.
“After some downtime this winter, I’m looking forward to getting back to the sports I love to do because training for XTERRA never feels like ‘trying’,” said Stehmeier. “The XTERRA Tribe just has fun and enjoys being out in nature. I have no doubt it will be another great year of racing.”