Wednesday, July 27, 2016

2016 Xterra Parry Sound Offroad Triathlon Race Report

Race Date: July 23, 2016

Race Details: 
1.5K Swim
~ 25K Offroad Mountain Bike
~ 8.8K Trail Run

This was my second XTERRA race of the year.   I qualified for the XTERRA Worlds in Milton Mine over Matter, so the pressure was off for this race, and I just wanted to have some fun.   I sure did...or did I?   Not sure.

Steve Good and I went up on Friday, the day before the race and did a pre race swim, ride and run.   Pretty much just one loop easy of the entire course.   I immediately knew we were in for a real treat on race day.   Plus it was super hot and humid.

The race had a late start at 10:30am at Nine Mile Lake just north of Parry Sound.   It was a beautiful venue for swimming.   There were also two transition zones, as the lake was about 1.5K from the run course.   So after doing all the race morning check-ins, Steve and I grabbed our swim and bike gear and rode to the swim start and got setup and did a short warm-up swim.   There was a drone hovering above the swim course that captured these awesome pics...

At 10:30, the horn sounded and we were all off.   It was a mass swim start, as there weren't really that many participants.   I was using my new Nineteen Rogue wetsuit and it felt pretty nice as I tried to push hard to get ahead of the pack at the start.

Maybe 200m out, I grabbed a draft off a guy, but it just felt too slow, so I pulled out and went around, which was likely a good call, but this meant I swam the rest of the swim solo, cause I couldn't quite catch the feet ahead of me.

The swim was a double loop of 750m with a short beach run in between.   I came out of the first loop in 6th place and basically held that position through the second lap and into T1 finishing the swim in 24:45.

XTERRA Parry Sound Swim - Strava Link

The bike started with a 1.5K uphill ride along the beach access road back to the Georgian Nordic Ski club where T2 was and then immediately into a bunch of single track.   The single track sections were unique and a bit different than what I have experienced back home at say the Hydrocut.   Here is how the race director describes the bike course:

"bits of technical singletrack that wander over undulating ridges of exposed granite.  These sections are connected by flowing doubletrack, offering ample room for safe passing, as you sweep by lakes, marshes, and beaver dams…  There may be no massive leg-burning ascents, but there are still plenty of short and sweet climbs to keep you on your toes.  While nothing on the course is scary or dangerous, the technical sections will certainly reward the skilled riders.  And the unique exposed granite sections will put a smile on everyone’s face…"

They sure did put a smile on my face.   Actually, I found the course pretty cool, but at the same time, it was pretty bumpy, and it would have been better to have a full suspension mountain bike, instead of the hard tail that I have.

As I made my way through the course, I believe I passed two other athletes and got passed twice myself, so basically came off the bike in the same position that I started it in.

There were only a few memorable moments throughout the ride.   The first was when I didn't take a line well and had to unclip quickly before crashing, and another was when I was pedaling around a tight corner and my left crank hit a rock or root or something, and I literally crashed and burned.   Luckily, nothing was broken on either the bike or myself and I was able to get up quickly and get back in the race.   I think I only lost 20s or so there.

XTERRA Parry Sound Mountain Bike - Strava Link

Once back in T2 I was able to quickly rack my bike and get my shoes on and get out onto the crazy run course they had for us.   Only 500m or so into the run, we had to climb up "The Wall", which was a huge slab of granite with a rope to help us up, since it was pretty darn steep!   Check out the video link below...

The Wall

Overall, the run course was incredibly unique.   Here is how the race director describes it:

"In a tip of the hat to our adventure racing friends, we have created a run course that is challenging and memorable.  The majority of the course follows technical single track, twisting and turning through the forest, splashing through streams and along rocky ridges.  And while that may be tough enough for the average runner, there’s more: each lap of the course takes racers up The Wall – a massive 15m slab of sloping granite, complete with rope assists to aid those weary legs.  It’s an experience that none will soon forget…"

The course was 2 laps and it was epic.   On the first lap, I even lost my shoe in a boggy part of the course.   I use Xtenex laces in most of my racing shoes so I can easily get them on and off in transition.   Unfortunately that means they can easily come off when you plant your foot in a mucky bog!

I finished the first lap with no changes in position, but starting the second lap, I was about 60 seconds down on 5th place.   I caught this athlete at the wall and carried on through the tricky course, being cautious to not lose my shoe again or twist an ankle for that matter.

I ended up passing the athlete that was in 4th place about half way through the second lap, so that put me into 4th overall, where I would finish, when crossing the finish line in 2:36:47 with a final run time of 45:32, the second fastest on the day behind Rich Pady, the race winner.

XTERRA Parry Sound Trail Run - Strava Link

2016 XTERRA Parry Sound Full Distance Triathlon Results

So even though I finished 4th overall, the 3 guys that finished ahead of me (including Steve who finished 3rd overall) were also in my 40-49 AG, so that meant I got nothing other than the satisfaction of another decent XTERRA race.

I have no other XTERRA races planned this year other than the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, Hawaii.    Between now and then though, I will be doing the Kingston LC Tri, Wasaga Beach Olympic and the Barrelman Half Iron race in Niagara Falls again.