Xterra Mine Over Matter was a new race for me, which was nice for a change. After racing the same 4 US Championship races for the past several years, it’s nice to add in a new one. Before Alabama, I didn’t know yet what the rest of my season plans were; that first race was my starting point to gauge my fitness and start thinking about whether or not to go for the series or just focus on rebuilding my fitness and race the Championships. Since I won at Oak Mountain and my swim and bike fitness were good, I figured I might as well give the series a go and build my running along the way. So Ontario was race #2 for me and I chose this one because it was supposed to be a pretty flat and fast course, which I needed since I was still so far behind in my run training.
The venue was pretty cool, very much like the East Coast where I grew up. The quarry had a crazy bright blue tropical look to it, and the trails were twisty, rocky, rooty and a blast to ride. As expected, there wasn’t much climbing and the swim and bike distances were actually shorter than typical championship events, but the run was just about 10k. This actually made me a little nervous because I didn’t know if I’d be able to put much of a gap between myself and the faster runners. There was also an unfamiliar competitor who worried me, knowing she’d be a fast swimming and runner, but her mountain biking skill was completely unknown.
At the start of the race, I had to briefly fight for the draft of the fast swimmer, and tried to stay with her for as long as possible, which wasn’t even to the first buoy. I swam alone at a strong pace until the last buoy when a couple of age group men (in wetsuits, while I was not, mind you…) caught and sandwiched me and I was able to ride their draft for a hundred meters or so to shore. That was a nice way to end the swim and prepare for the sprint to T1. Since we were following ITU rules and not wearing wetsuits, I didn’t have a swimskin to peel off which made T1 pretty quick. Once on the bike I felt like I was riding through quicksand as we started on the grass which was pretty tough and a little bumpy but once we hit the dirt I got into my rhythm and got up to speed. The course was made up of one small loop and one big loop, and we passed transition in between. A couple of kilometers into the first loop I caught the lead female swimmer and charged past into the lead. I felt really good on the bike; smooth through the corners and technical stuff and able to accelerate out powerfully back up to speed. I rode just below as fast as I could, knowing I needed to have some run legs under me. I had no time splits and was just racing blind and scared, wanting to hold onto the lead as long as possible. The run started just like the bike which was difficult, especially in the hot sun. After a couple kilometers we were into the shade of the trees and running on the same small loop that we rode first. It required some agility and leg speed and then we returned back to the quarry for the final 2k around the lake in the hot sun. By that point my legs were falling apart, I had a giant blister on my arch and I didn’t know where the nearest woman was behind me. I just soldiered on as hard as I could and when I saw the finish line 100yds ahead I was overjoyed and relieved that I had taken my 2nd win for the season. I was 2 for 2, so I guess it was a good decision to make a run for the series! Next up, Xterra Beaver Creek in Avon, Colorado.
Congrats to Karsten Madsen on his first Xterra Major Win! I’m certain it’s just the first of many to come…