Xterra Triathlon hits Beaver Creek Saturday
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – It’s just a dip in the lake, a little bike ride, followed by a nice jog. No biggie.
OK, Saturday’s Xterra Triathlon is a little more than that – one mile of swimming in Nottingham Lake, 15.5 miles of mountain-biking through Arrowhead to Bachelor Gulch, followed by a 5.5-mile run in Beaver Creek.
That’s not your average Saturday workout, but 350 people have already signed up for the pro, sport and amateur categories of the Xterra Triathlon.
Beaver Creek’s Mike Kloser, an accomplished endurance athlete, designed the course for the event’s second year.
“Challenge is the easy part at Beaver Creek,” Kloser said with a laugh. “Pretty much anyone who mountain-bikes or runs around the valley is used to that. The challenge in this event is to find the easier or more moderate terrain to keep it friendly and fun.”
To that end, there is still nearly 5,000 feet of climbing between the biking and running portions of the race. And since Saturday’s Xterra event serves as the series’ mountain championship, the pro field is a who’s who of triathletes.
At the same time, there is a sport division with modified distances in each discipline to encourage weekend warriors to give a triathlon a try. The sport division begins at 8:15 a.m., followed by the pros and amateurs at 9 a.m.
Last year was the first time Xterra held an event here. For the uninitiated, Xterra differs from the traditional triathlon because its events are off-road ones. Durango’s Sonny Vanlandingham won the women’s competition while Canada’s Mike Vine topped the men.
Local Josiah Middaugh was third, and he’s looking forward to Saturday.
“This is probably my most important event this summer,” Middaugh said. “This is the terrain I train on. The altitude is big too. It’s a bigger advantage having athletes come up her than me going to lower elevations.
“Normally, for these races, I fly in and spend two or three days getting to know the area. This week, I’m backing off my training, sticking to a couple key workouts.”
Middaugh’s strength is the mountain-biking portion, and given a tweaked knee, he hopes to have the lead going into the running section.
Middaugh is ranked No. 2 in the Xterra standings this year and is the top-ranked athlete in the men’s field. France’s Nicolas Lebrun, Vine, and Boulder’s Seth Wealin of Boulder are among those in a stacked field who should challenge for the title.
On the women’s side, Vanlandingham is back to defend her crown, but Canada’s Danielle Kabush, Switzerland’s Renata Bucher and New Zealand’s Jenny Smith headline the field. Sari Anderson of Carbondale as well as Lisa Isom will give the event some local flavor.
Registration for the Xterra Triathlon is open through today at 8 p.m. at the base of Centennial Lift in Beaver Creek.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.