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XTERRA Charlottesville but not XTERRA Charlottesville

The other day a race popped up on the XTERRA race calendar for 2017 that may look familiar to some, called XTERRA Charlottesville, but the race on the 2017 calendar is NOT the race you may know from years past.  For those that know it and may have had an opportunity to race it would recall it’s technical bike and run course, strewn with rock gardens, creek crossings and steep, heart pounding climbs.  However, that’s not the race coming up in 2017.  The only thing in common between the two is the name.

XTERRA Charlottesville 2017 will be at a completely new venue: The Miller School of Albermarle.

Back in November of last year, I was in contact with Kate Lucas and as part of the conversation, I mentioned traveling for work to places like Virgina Tech and Richmond.  She mentioned that there was interest in having an XTERRA at the Miller School.  One thing led to another and next thing I know I’m pulling up in front of the school for a pre-ride.  She explained that when I got there, I’d know it because I’d swear I was at Hogwarts.  She wasn’t kidding.

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This place looked like something straight out of a wizards movie, but instead, it’s one of the nations top-ranked boarding schools.  I hooked up with Andy Guptill, Team Director and Head Coach of the Endurance Team and he gave me a quick overview of the trails and sent me on my way.

Not long after entering the trailhead I still felt like I was in some movie and riding through the spooky forest, but on fast flowy trails.  I had a blast and the whole time I was thinking that this would make a great XTERRA course.

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After my pre ride of the trails, I met back up with Andy Guptill and he gave me a tour of the school bike shop while explaining the Endurance Team program.

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I was absolutely amazed at the story behind the endurance team, commonly referred to as MSA Endurance, a varsity team of 8th to 12th graders that compete in road biking, mountain biking, enduro, cyclocross and triathlon.

 

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But it doesn’t stop there.  These kids learn maintenance of their bikes AND spend time building trails and maintaining them, all part of their curriculum.

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And when I say they’re building trails, they’re not just building little romper tracks in some back yard, but instead, they’re building beautiful, flowy, birmy, challenging trails on a 1,600 acre plot of gorgeous Virginia country side.  Check out this awesome video from Adam Cohen and Will Dorn from some of their adventures of a new section of trail they’ve help design and build.  Some pretty cool video editing as well.

Didn’t wet your whistle enough?  Here’s another video that will give you an idea of the trails.  This one is from almost 4 years ago and I can guarantee you there’s been more trails and improvements added since then.

 

So now that I have your interest piqued about the trails, let me give you some details as I know so far about this race.

Date: May 20, 2017
Distances: 1000 meter swim, 18 mile mountain bike, 10k trail run
Location: Miller School of Albermarle
Location of Miller School: Google Maps
Website: Adventure Addicts Racing (no race info as of this writing…. yet)
Course Maps: (I’ll update this post as soon as I get my grubby hands on them)

Now, here’s my opinion on a couple of things.  I think the 10k distance might be a bit long for the XTERRA formula which shoots for the bike being 65% of the total race time.  Of course, this will depend on where the run course takes you and what trails are used.  If it does fit the formula, this could end up being closer to a regional race (as it pertains to duration) as opposed to a local one.

May 20. Yep.  That’s on the same day as XTERRA Oak Mountain.  That is a TOUGH proposition.  With XTERRA Oak Mountain being a gold level (higher points) race, that means that if you’re chasing points, you’d have a hard decision choosing which one.  That decision really boils down to what you have for 2017 season goals. They are both great, fun trails, and XTERRA Charlottesville has the makings of a great race. The big challenge we face is, that like most races, we, as an XTERRA family, want our new ones to thrive.  That means we need to support them with attendance, especially the first couple of years, to ensure they continue.

I really, truly think this will be a great race.  It’s a great venue, with some fun, fun trails and I love what the school is doing with its endurance program.  If you’re concerned about it being a new race, I wouldn’t be.  It’s not like they don’t have experience with racing there.  This was shot at the Miller School:

See you on the trails.

Be a Warrior!

Marcus

SwimRun in North Cackylacky USA

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this..” was the only quote that came to mind going into the SwimRun NC race.  Despite my best efforts to be prepared, with previewing the course, training pretty consistent and everything else I could do, it only took a sprinkling of real life to get in the way and attempt to derail things.  Life can be funny that way, throwing you curve balls and all.  Heck, sometimes it can be downright cruel.

Right after the SwimRun VA race in Richmond, VA, I headed home to be with Mom as she went into surgery.  I won’t go into too much detail, but I HAD to be there, because it’s family.  You know how that goes.  Even though sleeping in a hospital chair off and on over the next 10 days (not to mention all the driving) and the stress of worry put up a huge brick wall approaching the final days before the race, I don’t regret it for a millisecond.  Quality time was spent with all of my family, and frankly, sometimes that has to take a precedence over everything else.

So, as we all gathered at the Green Heron Ale House for the race briefing, the butterflies began to start.  There was nothing I could do now but give it my best shot.

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SwimRunNC, if you read their website, was the brainchild of Jan Kriska and Jeff Beckelhimer.  Although this is true, Herbert Krabel had his paws in on it, too.  With those three minds together

Continue reading

SwimRun Connects Nature to the Concrete Jungle

One of the primary premises behind the sport of swimrun is connecting the athletes with nature.  If you ask Michael Lemmel, race director of OtillO, he’ll be quick to tell you that it’s about the athletes moving through nature and becoming one with it.  I’d have to agree with him.

So, when it comes to having a swimrun race, most folks wouldn’t think of having one right in the middle of a large city like Richmond and if I hadn’t raced XTERRAs in Richmond before, I would probably have thought the same thing.  When I stumbled across that there would be the SwimRunVA race held on some of the same trails of the XTERRA, it took me all of about 2 seconds to make a decision.  I had to do this race.

I reached out to Jim Fisher, local Richmond athlete and an XTERRA friend of mine to see if he was interested in teaming up for the race.  Being an avid racer and lover of adventure, he didn’t hesitate to say yes.  As the race approached, I received bad news that Jim tore some of those important tendons around his knee and would need surgery.  Of course, this knocked him out of the race, for sure.  After some further searching and pleading with folks on social media for someone as crazy as us, Keith Schumann, another XTERRA athlete stepped up.  With zero time training together we found ourselves at the start line before you knew it.

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The race course looks a little something like this:

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I’ll spare you the turn-by-turn details, but it was 6 separate swims and 7 runs totaling 3.37 miles of swimming and 15 miles of running.  We started the race at Continue reading

I’ll Tumble For Ya in the Woods–XTERRA Whitewater

It was slated to be a hot one and with the torrential downpour the night before, it was also a slick one.  Hot.  Steamy.  Slippery.  Take those ingredients and mix it with a hard course and you have yourself one tough-as-nails race.

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Photo by Deb Dandro

Showing up race morning, not only had it rained, but the winds had blown everything out of whack.  Cones were strewn, transition had taken a beating and pop-up tents were completely missing.  The folks at the Whitewater Center had their work cut out for them.  They quickly got things squared away and before you knew it, transition was beginning to fill up.

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Photo by Deb Dandro

I knew that Caleb and Dwayne would give me a run for my money to get on top of the podium, with Dwayne being favored for the win.  My only chance was my intimate knowledge of the trails, knowing just about every root and rock out there.  With that said, we saw Continue reading

Adapt and Overcome – USAT OffRoad National Championships

One of the beauties of racing an XTERRA race is the fact that anything can change on a moments notice.  The majority of XTERRA racers just go with the flow and make the most of it while citing it as a fun aspect of this sport.  The same goes for the majority of XTERRA race directors.  Case in point:

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I couldn’t have put it better myself.  More about the course changes in a bit.

Before the rains, the course was in beautiful shape.  Racers began showing up about mid-week in order to get some time on the course.  I had the opportunity and managed to snap a few photos in the process.

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As you can see it’s a fairly rocky course with loose pea-sized gravel over Continue reading

Hulk Got Some Upgrades XTERRA Myrtle Beach

One of the beauties that makes XTERRA so much fun is the change.  How boring would it be to go do that same road triathlon, with the same boring course, that never, ever changed? Again.  And again. And again.  One thing that keeps me coming back to XTERRA, year after year, is the fact that some races are constantly evolving.  Take XTERRA Myrtle Beach for example.  The first year it was held, the swim course was a rectangular course in the intercostal waterway.  This meant that if the tide was on the move, you’d be fighting it on one of the sides of that rectangle.

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Rear from left: Danny Pagan, Pete Dizon, Ornela Vazquez Rivera, Jim Dandro
Front from left: Caleb Baity, Marcus Barton

The next year it was a one-way swim.  Last year, I raced Myrtle Beach for the first time and I thought the trails were a blast.  I wrote about them last year, so I won’t rehash that over again, but the run was Continue reading

Rabid Muffin Monkeys – You bunch of clowns

What a great team name, huh?  Yep.  That’s the name we chose.  Well, some of us on the team may have forced it on others.  At least at the end of the series, Neal Boyd himself even asked where the hell did we come up with a name like that.  Sorry folks, but it’s going to remain a secret.  If I tell you, I’d have to pull you out back and beat you with a sock full of potatoes.  Ever seen what a sock full of potatoes will do to a person?  It’s not pretty.

Anyhow, a couple of us monkeys started this all by thinking about doing the Winter Short Track Series. For the unfamiliar, it’s basically, a loop of about a mile in length consisting of a mix of single track trail, gravel road and a little bit of parking lot. Depending on your class, you may be racing for 30 minutes, 45 minutes or an hour. The goal is to go as fast and hard as you can on your mountain bike to get as many laps as you can in that given time period. Of course, you get your own personal bonus points by not throwing up in the process. Not including throw up points, you accrue points at each race in an attempt to win some goodies at the end of doing this for 5 Sundays in a row.

Anyhow, me, Jim and Margo were the original clowns thinking of doing the series.  I reached out to Caleb to see if he wanted to and after some himming and hawing, I think we finally talked him into it.  As we dug into the details, we discovered that there was a team competition which set us on a course of scheming.  This meant that we could not only accrue points individually, but that we could also accrue points as a team and have a little more fun in the process. At first, we thought of joining an existing team, but in the end we decided to pull together our own little band of misfits.  When it was all said and done, we ended up with this good looking bunch (except for that ugly one on his knees):

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From Left to Right: Danny Pagan, Margo Pitts, Steven Pugh, Some Dork, Jen Barthel, Jim Dandro and Caleb Baity.

We all had a blast racing the series, hanging out, cheering each other and even wallering in Continue reading