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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.

ducky
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.

prerace
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 some new faces in the crowd and I wondered if there would be a contender in our midst.

With a quick setup of my transition spot and pre-race warmup, I began to hear the announcement to head down to the distant swim start.  Our swim was in the Catawba River, a half-mile run from transition.

transition
Photo by Deb Dandro

Before getting our toes in the water, the crew did an outstanding job of getting us prepped for the race.

racebrief
Photo by Deb Dandro

The race directors always do something a little unique at this race.  They start the swim in two waves.  Although two waves may not be unusual, how they determine the who goes in which wave is.  They ask that anyone not concerned so much about time to hold back in the second wave.  There’s no deduction in time, as they only do a single gun time.  This way, anyone competing for a spot on the podium can all start in the same wave, regardless of age group.  I know that sounds a little weird, but it was genius.  It truly made everyone happy and worked very well.

swimstart
Photo by Deb Dandro

Ali Arasta jumped in the water next to me, as did Mike Smith and a few other buddies.  With everyone one in the water and after a countdown, we all took off in lukewarm water.  I swam the 1000 meter rectangular course trying to pace myself the best I could without going too slow or too fast and blowing up.  I managed to come out of the water in fourth and by the time we ran to transition, I was in 3rd.

swimfinish
Photo by Deb Dandro

The 14ish mile bike course was slippery as snot.  At XTERRA Whitewater, you have about 2 seconds after entering the woods before you hit a technical descent to the Figure 8 trail.  Slick red clay and wet roots gave me an instant preview of how slick the trails were going to be. Figure 8 is only about a mile in length, but has 8 bridges.  I approached the first two with caution but they turned out to be ok.  The third bridge, both Caleb and I hate.  You descend towards it and just before the bridge you have to do a quick left and then right S-turn before crossing the bridge.  Even in dry conditions, it freaks me out a little because I bomb the downhill so fast, that I usually enter the bridge near the left edge but still make it across. Only this time around, I hit it in the same spot, but with a different result.

As soon as the front wheel hit the bridge, my bike came out from under me and I slammed down onto the bridge both of us sliding across the bridge, off of the bridge, into the bank on the far side and then into the creek.

“DAMNIT!” I exclaimed out loud.  This was similar to my experience in Knoxville.  As I reached into the mud to grab my dislodged water bottle (couldn’t leave my Roctane behind), another rider come scooting across the bridge.  I looked up, my chin even with the bottom of the bridge, I caught a glimpse of their shoes as they went by, meanwhile asking if I was ok.  “I think so, “ I answered.

I climbed, digging my hands into the bank, and clawed my way back up onto the trail.  After a quick glance of the bike to make sure nothing was busted.  The bike was ok, but I was bleeding pretty good from a gash in my right leg, just below and outside of the knee. I hopped on and proceeded to try and catch up and felt a nice trailrash “raspberry” on my right hip where there was a newly ripped hole in my tri suit.

Within the next 2 minutes, I hit a clump of roots, using the same line I had a hundred times before.  Again, the slick-as-ice death roots would prove themselves a worthy adversary by putting me on my butt again.

BAM!  Without warning, I found myself half wrapped up with a tree and my bike, laying in a knot on the ground, this time on my left side, banging my ankle and foot in the process.  I jumped up and took back off, throbbing foot and all.  I now had matching raspberries on both hips.

Regardless of crashing twice in the first mile of the race, I managed to get back up to what I believed was the number 2 spot of the race.  It was a chore to do so, as all the winds had also added debris all over the trail, including numerous fallen tress that you had to hop off and climb over.  A  little over 5 miles into the race, I came across a family that was just out for a hike and enjoying the trails.  I rang my bell two times to let them know I was coming and as soon as I heard my own ding-ding, I heard another ding-ding from behind me.

Recognizing the bell, I exclaimed out loud, “Oh crap, that’s Caleb!” where he could hear me.

“You were going down Tower 93 kind of slow,” he goaded, giving me a little bit of a hard time since he knows I’m a nervous on the jumps, and even more so giving the slick conditions.

“Yeah, yeah.  Whatever,” I replied as he passed me.

13603322_10209754547165029_5378484077385112309_o
Photo by Troy Lee

“That puts you in second place, Caleb.  Dwayne is up there somewhere,” I added.

“He’s long gone,” Caleb replied.

We trucked along.  By the time we pulled out of the Toilet Bowl trail, he had gapped me a little and was out of sight.  I passed a photographer and asked him what place I was in, to which he replied “second.”  I quickly dismissed it, knowing that Caleb and super-fast swimmer, Dwayne was up there too.  I came across a muddy section that was smooth and flat from the previous night’s rain with the exception of two sets of bike tracks.  “See, I AM in third,” I thought to myself.

I entered into the East Main trail fully expecting the technical and hilly 6ish miles of trail that lay ahead.  About half-way through that section, I came across another non-racer riding his bike.

“The leader is right up there on that climb,” he offered without my solicitation.

“I’m in second?” I asked.

“Yep,” he replied with confidence and certainty.

I quickly surmised that the second set of tracks must have belonged to him.  What happened to Dwayne?

Coming into T2, Caleb was squarely in first place and I was in second.  Everyone I asked confirmed it.

calebbike
Photo by Deb Dandro
marcusbike
Photo by Deb Dandro

After a quick transition, I headed out onto the 4 mile run with a goal to run Caleb down.

Marcust2
Photo by Deb Dandro

The run consisted of running to the new Academy Loop trail, running one lap of it and running back.  In all, it totaled a little over 4 miles, but a very tough 4 miles.  With lots of twists, turns, dips, dives and climbs, it’s definitely one that feels harder than 4 miles, especially given my throbbing ankle and left foot.  Here’s a quick 30 second preview of this trail:

In the end, I didn’t catch Caleb and he finished first place with good friend, Ali Arasta, finishing third.

top3
Photo by Deb Dandro

On the women’s side, first place was Amy Carver, followed by Angie Childre and in third was Elizabeth Skiba.

Top Female by Scott Lemos
Photo by Scott Lemos

We later found out that Dwayne also took a nasty spill at the beginning of the race and had to call it a day.  It sucked not having you out there, Dwayne.  We had a blast and you were missed.

guys
Photo by Deb Dandro

Be a Warrior!

Marcus

Race: XTERRA Whitewater
Location: Charlotte, NC
Date: Jul 9, 2016
Distances: 1000m Swim / 14 mile mountain bike / 4 mile trail run
Result: 2rd Overall
Full Results
Products used: GU Roctane Gel and GU Roctane Drink Mix, Inov-8 Terraclaw 220, Schwalbe Racing Ralph Tires, ESI Grips, Crank Brothers Candy 11 Pedals, First Endurance Multi-V.

Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Debra Jean Goodnight Dandro.

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:

IMG_8065

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 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.

RMM
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

Back in the Saddle

Whelp. I’ve been on a short hiatus for a while, taking some much needed downtime after the WC-50 race that was a fun, but tough 50k for me.  Despite what your eyes see, I was NOT wearing a skirt.  Thanks Stephanie Moore for the awesome photo.  It captures the cold of October with the steam coming off of the water a lot better than my pink legs.


I ended up in 3rd place overall. After leading the race for the first 27 miles, a couple of experienced, fast boys taught me a few things and proceeded to spank me pretty good.  I spent quite a bit of the last-half of the last lap walking. I was fried. It was still more fun than a hog hollering contest.

After a long season of some GREAT racing in 2015, including some fun, fun action in the XTERRA points series, a couple of trips overseas to do the Rockman and OtillO, I was ready for a break from training and racing. So I spent the next couple of months just doing fun stuff and stuffing my pie hole.. well… with pie.

But here we are again, time to get serious as race season is right around the corner.

If you haven’t noticed, the website has gone back to its roots and with some of the old comes a few new things, like product reviews. I figured since folks are asking about a few racing goodies I’ve picked up, I might as well share with everyone.  I also plan to blog about a bit more than just race reports. Expect a few that include tips and tricks for the new folks starting out and maybe even a review on some trails to ride.  Who knows.  And as always, I’m open for suggestions. So, pony up ya’ll and speak up on what you’d like to see.

2016 will be full of fun again. The race calendar is shaping up and includes a bunch of XTERRAs, some oldies (but goodies), some new ones, an XTERRA trail run or two and yes, a swimrun in there to keep it interesting.

It’ll be challenging, downright grueling at times and with a sprinkle of chaos thrown in for good measure, it sounds like fun, right?

Let’s get this party started.

Cold Water and Wetsuit Running – OtillO Swimrun World Championships

For those of you that haven’t been following the blog or my Facebook page, we set out to do ÖTILLÖ which is touted to be one of the toughest races on the planet.  It’s a swimrun race that consists of traversing 26 islands in Sweden, swimming a total of 6 miles in the Archipelago and running 42 miles across the islands.  To give you a quick synopsis, check out this map (all lengths are in meters):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0qM3w3mSgI

Dan prepared me the best he could, and frankly, I felt I had made huge strides in my fitness. Cheryl Reinke also worked hard and helped me to make big improvements to my swim. By the time we hit Sweden, they had done as much as they could. I’m thankful to both of them for really taking the time to invest in someone who can’t possibly repay them.

We took our better halves and boarded the flight for Stockholm. To say I was a bit nervous was an understatement. It was nervousness, excitement and anxiousness all balled up in one tiny package.  Once we got to Stockholm, we parted Continue reading

Quick ÖtillÖ Update

Ok. So quick race update for you. We had a great race. The water was choppy with 4 foot swells at points. There were serious winds that made it tough to warm up, even with running. As we moved south, each swim got progressively colder with the start of the race being 54 degrees.


About halfway through the race, we were in 9th place and picking off teams, but ended up finishing 35th after some issues.  We missed our planned time of under 10 hours, but I still wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world. We shared laughs and misery, fun sections and tough as nails sections, easy swims and swims I have no idea how we survived.

Thanks to everyone who watched online. I thought of you every time they stuck a camera on us. Thanks to Alba for sticking through me and all the training. Thanks to GU Energy for keeping me fueled and Inov-8 for keeping me in kicks, Timex for keeping me on time. Thanks to Alan Alan Tyson and Candace Myer at Architect Sports for keeping me moving. Full race report on the way. #guforit #inov8 #weswimrun #otillo15 #timefactoryteam

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