The new course features a 2.5-mile trail run to start the race instead of the swim, transitions to a 19-mile mountain bike, and finishes up with a 5.5-mile trail run.
While athletes and organizers are sad about having to cancel the swim, the bright side is really bright. The first days of Fall have unleashed a kaleidoscope of colors across the Wasatch front and the “new course vibes” are off the chart.
The mountain bike route, which used to be a big, long climb up the mountain coupled with a very short downhill, now features an equal amount of climbing and descending and all-new adrenaline-filled switchbacks that connect sections of flowing singletrack trails weaving through tunnels of orange-yellow-and-pink leaves, go alongside a creek, across wooden bridges, and down rock gardens.
The advantage most certainly goes to the mountain biker in this one and there are plenty of awesome age group and elite riders on the start list eager to tackle what could be considered the most epic downhill in all of XTERRA.
“We’ve got a 2,000-foot descent from the top of Sardine Peak to the bottom at Art Nord, and it’s technical, probably the most technical trail riding on the circuit here in the U.S., and maybe worldwide,” said XTERRA Pro Brian Smith.
The top U.S. age grouper from 2019, Michael Dorr from Colorado, just happens to be an incredible mountain biker. He’s back on the start list in Utah and no doubt the man to beat in the men’s amateur race, but will have lots of competition with Peter Santini, Ryan Terry, and Brian Summers who were all in the top 10 here two years ago.
In the women’s amateur chase, reigning XTERRA USA Champ Jennifer Razee is here to defend the title, but you can count on Deanna McCurdy to try and take it away. Those two have to be considered the favorites, however, Sian Crespo, Kat Marks, Julia Allred, Jill Sorensen, and Amanda Bayer have all had breakthrough performances and proven they can run and ride really fast on mountain courses.
Perhaps no one is more excited to watch all the action unfold this weekend than Ogden Mayor, Mike Caldwell. He was the founder and race director for the first XTERRA event in Ogden back in 2004, and he still regularly rides the trails at Snowbasin.
“It’s always one of my favorite weekends of the year when XTERRA is here,” said Caldwell (pictured), who jokingly says he’s been passionately losing bike races for 30+ years. “This year the leaves are popping, the weather looks phenomenal, and the last year and half with the pandemic we haven’t been able to go out and celebrate each other, so this weekend will be really special.”
On Saturday, the fastest racers in each five-year age group will be honored as the XTERRA USA Champion. Elites will be competing for $25,000 in prize money (read elite preview here), and cameramen will position themselves around Wheeler Canyon and the Wasatch Range to capture all the action for a internationally broadcast TV show.
The XTERRA USA Championship race starts 9am MDT on Saturday, September 25. Follow the updates on instagram.com/xterraplanet.
Learn more about this race, XTERRA Trail Run Nationals, XTERRA Trentino, and more in our news section here.