While the XTERRA Northeast season doesn’t get underway until July, when the ice is guaranteed to be gone from those chilly lakes, athletes from New England and New York are already preparing for their season. And this is no easy feat given the winter they have had this year.
XTERRA Regional Champ Stuart Christie (70-74) is honest about the challenges of training in the Boston area.
“How do I train through the winter?” he asks. “I cheat! My wife and I spend February and the first half of March in Florida. I love swimming in the Gulf, using the bike lanes, and running on the trails. Now that I’m home, I’m re-introducing myself to the joys of riding through ice-cold standing water.”
All kidding aside, Christie embodies the Live More spirit, even when the going gets tough. He has a ton of gear, proper shoes, and sometimes, even studs for his bike tires.
“I honestly don’t mind riding in winter,” he said of mountain biking in the Boston area. “The scenery can be beautiful, and in the woods, you’re out of the wind which makes a huge difference.”
However, even more impressive than battling winter is Christie’s refusal to cave to the hassles of getting older. “I’m 73 now so I’m interested in seeing how long I can do what I love,” he said. “I’m younger than Ron Hill and Nat Grew, who are my role models. Nonetheless, I do see my times slowing, which I fight to the extent that I can. But, the fact is that I still get such pleasure out of mountain biking, running, and swimming that I have no intention of “retiring” anytime soon. Expect to see my wrinkled face at XTERRAs for years to come.”
Christie will be at the only designated race in the Northeast Region this season, XTERRA French River in Oxford, Massachusetts on July 13th, which features the challenging and fast trails located within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property in Hodges Village Dam. The course combines a half-mile swim with a 12-mile mountain bike and 5.5 mile trail run.
XTERRA Northeast Regional Champ Stephanie Landy (55-59) is also looking forward to XTERRA French River this summer and may also race at XTERRA Way Over Yonder in New Jersey in Waywayanda State Park on May 18.
Landy had shoulder surgery on her rotator cuff last summer but is already back to regular swimming and biking.
Six-time XTERRA Regional Champ Tad Norton (50-54), the 2018 Dave DeSantis XTERRA Legacy Grant recipient, was still shoveling snow in his hometown of Canandaigua, NY, as of March. Still, he said he’s looking forward to racing this year and planning his international adventure, in large part, because his daughter Jessie will be joining him.
“Jessie has a strong background in running and swimming,” said Norton. “Last year, she put together an all-female relay for XTERRA Syracuse and they won their division. It won’t be long before she is passing me on the course and it will be fun to watch her progress and join me in the mud.”
Another stellar female athlete, XTERRA Regional Champ Amanda Bayer (25-29), is getting ready for a new season after a break-out year in which she won her age group at XTERRA Oak Mountain, French River, and Jersey Devil. At the XTERRA Pan Am Championship in Utah, she finished second.
“I’m aging up and changing regions so there are a lot of unknowns for this season,” said Bayer who is relocating to Wisconsin for work this month. She’s looking forward to joining the XTERRA Midwest Tribe and shaking things up in there. She’s also planning to race in Utah at the XTERRA Pan Am Championship on September 7th and in Maui for the XTERRA World Championship on October 27th. And this year, she is getting married on the beach at Maui a day after the race.
“We planned our wedding around XTERRA Worlds, so the pressure is definitely on to qualify,” said Bayer with a laugh. “Otherwise I might have to run the 10K with my fiancé, and due to how competitive I am, that might not be great for our relationship.”
This season, Bayer hopes to be in the top three to five at both Oak Mountain and at the Pan Am Championship. Like the rest of the Tribe, she is tough and is grateful even for the challenging seasons.
“I find training keeps me grounded when all the other life stress ramps up,” said Bayer. “If nothing else, winter training builds a lot of mental toughness. It is easy to find excuses in the winter -- weather, trainer and treadmill time -- but I really feel like when I buckle down it is some of the most productive work I do all year.”
Learn more about XTERRA French River at www.xterraplanet.com/frenchriver.