Sunday, July 13, 2008
Photo by Nils Nilsen/XTERRA
Me following Danelle Kabush out of the water
Race: XTERRA East Championships
Location: Richmond, VA
Distance:1000 meter swim, 18-mile mountain bike, 11k trail run
After a week of temperatures in the 90s and high humidity The XTERRA East Championships were blessed with an overcast morning and temperatures in the 70s for the start of the race. Rain the night before made the dirt a little less dusty.
The 26-mile off-road triathlon started and finished on Brown’s Island in Downtown Richmond, not somewhere I expected to have a lot of technical singletrack but it had just that, an 18-mile sort-of loop around James River, where only I seldom knew I was in a big city—except for when we had to ride over road bridges through storm drains and run up nine flights of stairs-two times, to get over railroad tracks.
The trails are also very well constructed maintained by local mountain bike organizations and feature a lot of bridges, ramps, cobblestone and short-very steep climbs—perhaps one of the most technical mountain bike races I have ever done, well just a lot different than Tahoe. I went over the handlebars three times during the race but luckily only came away with scrapes and bruises.
Because the trail is accessable from all over the city the trails were lined with spectators who kept me going. Because the bike course was mostly singletrack passing was an issue, especially with the amateur heats only two minutes after the pros and a short swim. A lot of people taking the race too seriously.
The swim was a non-wetsuit in James River, swimming directly across the river, getting out on the other side running about 200 meters and getting back in swimming back to the other side, swimming back toward the middle of the river and then back under the railroad bridge and to transition. Water was pretty murky, muddy and shallow in areas, I got scraped up from some of the shallow rocks.
The highlight of the race for me was being able to but on my royal-blue INOV-8s for the run. I am positive they made me run faster and happier. They felt as light as ballet shoes but stable enough on pavement, dirt and jumping across a river. They are only meant for short distances but I feel like I could have kept going in them. I made up a lot of time on the run and passed at least 10 guys. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the men’s winner Josiah Middaugh was also on INOV-8s who passed Dan Hugo in the last mile.
With only four women placing in the top-10, proves you don’t have to leave the country to get good international competition at XTERRA. The Race was won by Melanie McQuaid of Canada, followed by Jenny Smith of New Zealand and Shonny Vanlandingham of Colorado. I placed 13th in the pro division with the 6th fastest run split.
I am very thankful for the great homestay I had at fellow XTERRA athlete Chris Reynold’s house just a few miles from the bike course. He showed me the course gave me some tips on racing there and even shot some video during the race. I got to see the hip part of the city known as Cary Town. Not to mention rides to and from the airport and food and wine (what he knows best)leaving me with a good impression of Richmond.