The EX2 Off-road Triathlon/Duathlon (http://www.ex2adventures.com/offroad-triathlon.php) took place yesterday at the Rocky Gap State Park in Cumberland, Maryland. It was part of the Xterra off-road racing series and it was a great event. Here's a quick report.
The triathlon was basically the off-road equivalent of an Olympic distance road tri with a .75 mile swim in the beautiful, clear lake, followed by two, seven mile laps (14 miles) of mountain biking on a course that circled the lake, and finally a 5 mile trail run, much of it on the same trails as the mountain bike course. The duathlon substituted the swim with a 3 mile trail run to start. The course was incredible with some of the finest mountain biking I've experienced anywhere on a variety of terrain from single track that weaved through the trees to rocky fire roads, to rock garden climbs and finally a beautiful, grassy single track to the finish/transition along the lakeside.
This was only my second triathlon (after the Dextro in June) so I suffered through another sub-par swim start that had me hyperventilating and wishing (briefly) I'd entered the duathlon. The swim consisted of two laps with a short run along the shore between the laps so by the second lap I finally settled into a decent crawl stroke and regular breathing.
I grew up racing mountain bikes so the bike leg was challenging, but fun for me. Passing people on narrow trails is hard so I wished I'd done better on the swim. By the second lap the field had thinned out along the trail making it much easier to keep an even, fast pace.
The trail run was beautiful. Except for a couple of occasions when lapping some of the slower cyclists, or being passed by some speedy runners, I was alone out on the trails that wound through the shaded trees and along the lake before climbing several hundred feet up paths into the mountain. One of the climbs, called Evitt's Revenge, lived up to it's name. It was so steep in places that it took both hands and feet in contact with the rocks and ground. The descents from those climbs were technical and some care had to be taken not to twist an ankle. From the top of the climbs it was a quick downhill back around the lake to the finish.
This race was extremely well organized and the volunteers were incredible. The course was top-class and the whole event had a great feel that was absent some of the "seriousness" that I found at the Dextro. Any illusions I might have had about cherry picking a better result because of my mountain bike background went out the window when I saw the very fit and capable field. My time of 2:37 was good for 14th place in the 35-40 age group but nowhere near the 2:09 winning time. There were some very speedy folks out there.
I highly recommend this event to you for next year. If you don't have any mountain bike experience, the event can be raced in relay by teams of two or three with each person doing one of the disciplines. Mountain biking is a great way to build bike handling skills and climbing power, both things that come in handy in the more traditional road triathlons so I recommend the sport to you. There are a couple of other Xterra Tris on the schedule left this summer within a shortish drive away. I'm definitely going to consider them.
Thanks for the race report, I'm very interested in doing a Xterra race and maybe even a bit of pure mountain bike races. Need to replace my current mtb (rigid & old) first, but do you know of any websites that list these events other than the ex2adventures site?
Also, I've heard the bike courses aren't too technical for these kind of events. Is that true and are most guys on hard tails or full suspension?
Mark: nice race and thanks for the RR. and Drew: I also did this as my first Xterra. I bought a 29'er hard tail two weeks ago and rode it twice on the trails before riding this course without a preview. I was ok and actually feel I did pretty well finishing around 2:58. Another racer I know mentioned the Appalachia Xterra on Aug 2, Sunday as actually easier than this one. So maybe that can be worked into your schedule. The 29'er HT worked very well for me. I'm taller and was able to boogie by some people on the uphills. I'm sure Mark you passed me but I felt that this was a good course for someone as inexperienced as me. I didn't fall, crash or lose any blood and by surviving to the finish I was stoaked. I also raced Diamond in the Rough and had to photograph a wedding the previous day so I just wanted to test out an Xterra. All the best, Jay
Mark or Drew,
I'm in Silver Spring and able to ride a little during the week especially in Aug. Maybe we can coordinate riding together.
My cell number is 301-873-9988.