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Race Report – Xterra East Coast Championship 6/17/07 – Richmond, VA
I know most of you in this forum are involved in traditional triathlons but this is a write up about an offroad tri.
Particularly, swimming in a river, mountainbiking, and trail running.
I have been doing regular triathlons for 3-4 years now, basically as an excuse for myself not to get completely fat. Sprints, oly, ½’s, whatever is local really. I like to try and be in shape and take some pride in my performance. Usually finish top 10-20% of my age group, 30-35 male. Anyway, one of my MTB buddies had done this race last year and said it was fun, despite the 95+ degree heat and oppressive humidity. Always up for something different, I said why the hell not and signed up. Travelling to a race might be cool. MTB is my favorite anyway, and most of the running I do is trail running because I find it more enjoyable.
A word of caution. Do not stay at the Comfort Inn at Richmond. It is a dump beyond dumps. Luckily, we were able to change reservations and found a nice hotel within a 5 minute walk of the transition area
Now you might already be thinking, why in the hell would you stage a championship race for offroad triathlons in Richmond, VA? Isn’t it a city? Well, that’s what I was wondering also, and it turns out, it was a pretty cool race after all.
Race day: the weather is great, albeit a bit hot. 90 degrees or so at race time, which was 10:30 am The start is late because they do a sport race on a shorter course at 8:00am the same day
The swim was held in the James River, which most of the local people thought was definitely not for swimming( I kept an eye out for floating turds). It was a challenging swim for a few reasons;
1. It would be my first race swimming in a river with a current.( I usually open water swim in bays and the ocean)
2. There were more than a few shallow spots with rocks and boulders you had to climb over at various points
3. it was an odd shaped swim. Most races I have done are out and back, triangle, or box shaped. This swim was out and back, then out, then back, then out, then back all to different buoys. Very interesting when there is a current pushing you down river.
The swim starts and there is quite a bit of pushing and jostling, more than I remember from my 10 or so races that I have done over the past couple of years. I took a shot in the jaw that still hurts today (I am not sure whether it was from a punch or kick).
We were all trying to swim for the downstream point of an island. At least that’s where I thought we were trying to swim to since it made the most direct line to the first marker. And It never really thinned out, as had been my experience from previous triathlons. I don’t think I took one stroke for the first 300 meters where I didn’t nail somebody. I hope I didn’t hit anyone in the jaw….
My wife said we were 100 yards downstream from where we were supposed to be at that point (about 300 meters in)., therefore that left us swimming basically into the current to reach the first buoy. Oh, and that’s when we started hitting the rocks. I have some pretty good scrapes on my knees from them. It was quite a scramble for 50 yards or so( alternating walking, swimming, hopping, etc) and then back to swimming. After we passed the first marker, it started to thin out, and I was finally able to get my stroke and breathing down and do some swimming. (I can actually kind of swim after joining a masters program last year. I can lay down 1:20 100’s with consistency)
Anyway, back and forth after that to the buoys and I was able to point upstream and get a pretty good line from the remaining swim. By that point, the faster swimmers from the wave that started two minutes after us were swimming past, so I tucked behind one of them and followed him home to shore.
All that was left was a ¼ mile or so run up a rocky shore and then up a gravel path to T1.
Now, you might be asking, did my friend tell me to bring a pair of shoes down to the water in order to have a less painful and more successful run back to T1?
Yes he did, and I thank him for it. I had brought 2 pairs of shoes, one for the run back to t1, and one for the 11k trail run. A little local knowledge helps sometimes.
I’ll try and post the bike and run portion write up tomorrow.