18 May 2011

ITU Cross Tri...simply Xterra by another name

I am a bit behind and hope to get caught up with Spain and Xterra Pacific Champs in Santa Cruz before I am off to Xterra Southeast Champs in Alabama this weekend.  A couple weeks ago I had the chance to be apart of the very first ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship and race as part of Team USA.  I have been to a few ITU World Championships before but they were all on the road and I was in the amateur or age group category racing, it is different when you are racing at the highest levels possible.  ITU Cross Tri is the same as all the Xterra's I have been racing, swim, mountain bike, trail run, though the distances are a bit shorter, in ITU they elected to do a 1 kilometer swim, 20 km mtn bike and 6 km trail run opposed to the 1.5km swim, 30km mtn bike, 10km run in a standard Xterra.  Another great feature of the ITU was a multiple loop format and separate racing so we could actually watch the women's team race and respectively kick arse and have a ton more spectators watching us as well.  The multi loop format makes it so you are seeing racers go by more often we aren't disappearing for an hour or more, you see us every 5 to 15min from the same spot.  Here are some photos of the race:
Unique pontoon dive start under ominous skies.
 It was a simple out and back swim, I found a nice rhythm early and held strong.  There were some faster swimmers as I expected and came out about 20 sec back from the lead the question was how could the others handle the mountain bike.

Dry conditions to start.
 We started the bike in dry conditions everything was smooth except there were a bunch of non Xterra regulars that seemed to have a lot of problems with the course not sure why.  We did four 5 kilometer laps and after the second lap the rain started falling.  We were also riding along the edge of the lake for half of the lap adding to the wet muck.
Riding on the lakes edge, add rain and it got a bit muddy by the end.

Rode my way up to 5th before Josiah passed with a few of the regulars ahead, Conrad leading, Seth in 2nd, Marceau 3rd.

Bit muddier getting off the bike once the rain started.
Once off the bike I didn't know what to expect but new more mud was going to be the case, just hoping it wasn't going to be thick and suck the shoes off.
Headed out with Spanish favorite Eneko Llanos on my heels.
Thankfully the worst of the mud.
I hit the run in 6th with Eneko right on me and couldn't shake him, this was probably the fastest and hardest I have really run in a while.  I did everything I could but I couldn't hold off Bruno Pais from Portugal and his fastest run split, ended up 8th overall.  The US team dominated, Seth took 2nd, Josiah 4th, Craig 10th, Brian 13th and Cody 15th.  The women dominated as well with Shonny in 2nd, Emma in 3rd, unfortunately a flat left Suzie in 13th after riding in 3rd on the bike and a back issue and borrowed bike put Sarah in 17th.  Hopefully they start a team relay at Cross Tri, we will dominate.  Overall the Xterra regulars dominated as well, Conrad taking his 5th world title, and Melanie taking the women's side.  Once I get a few more photos I will post more and have an entirely separate album and post of all things non-race as well.

Here are a couple videos, one is in Spanish but some great footage:

Cto del Mundo de Triatlon Cross from photodeporte on Vimeo.

04 May 2011

Going Wacko

After a few short days at home it was off to Wacky Waco Texas for the South Central Championship.  I was very excited when this race was back on the schedule, not the type of course I may excel at it is just plain fun.  The community backing is superb they did everything possible to bring the race back and hopefully we put on a show to show our gratitude for bringing us back.  They set up a great BBQ a few nights before the race, put us in an amazing homestay with John and Genevieve.  Craig, Will and I really thank you for providing us with a place to stay, a bed and a kitchen for those few days, I know that we are all looking forward to coming back next year.  John and G have a few amazing dogs as well D, probably the largest Great Dane you have seen and two eccentric Border Collies; Trey and Emma, they nearly wore us out before our race.

Out of the water with Patrick on my heels.  Thanks G for the Photo!
All too quickly race day approached and we were setting up transition, we were prepared before until the fateful announcement cracked that the water temperature was supposedly 68 degrees, wetsuit legal, Craig, Chris, Seth and I couldn’t believe it we had swum in the Brazo’s River in the days before and knew how warm it was and just didn’t think it was possible that it dropped 6 degrees in the past two warm days.  After a quick warm up on the bike I picked up my 2XU Velocity wetsuit back at the house.

Seth and I in pursuit of Conrad on a climb. Photo: XTERRA
After getting in the water I knew the best tactic would be to let someone else push the pace and sit on their feet to not over cook myself in the wetsuit.  Chris and Seth led the way in the swim and was leading heading on to the bike.  The course is very different than West Championships the previous week which had longer climbs, continuous efforts and is very wide open with no defined track.  The course in Cameron Park never seems to head in a straight line for more than 100 feet before you are making some other turn, the longest climb takes at most a couple minutes.  The biggest thing that I had to switch were going from my Ergon GX2 grips with the integrated bar end that were great for the climbs in Vegas to the Ergon GS1 grips so as not to hook a tree and send myself sailing over the bars.  I had a few bumbles at the start of the bike with my chain dropping and losing traction on a hill but soon got in the the flow of the course and got back by Seth and Patrick who had passed when I had to put my chain back on.  The inevitable happened with the Caveman making his way toward the front and about half way through the ride and we would be chasing the rest of the day.  At the end of one of the longer grinds he started to power away with the short burst through the corners.  Seth got by as well and although he was never more than 20 seconds ahead of me because of the course I never saw him till we transitioned to the run.

About to attack Jacobs Ladder. Photo: XTERRA
After running well in Vegas and really feeling like I was floating through the run there I was hoping for some similar experience in Waco.  Straight off you are slapped in the face with Jacobs Ladder which is about 150 steps that range from 4 inches to almost 2 feet tall, the legs got moving after cresting as I put off in chase of Seth.  He had found his running form through that eluded him the previous week and I never saw him again.  Then all too soon I heard the pitter patter of feet behind me as Josiah flew past with one clear mission, I had no chance and he was gone in pursuit of the leaders.  I continued my mission of trying to hold off any further chasers feeling my legs burn from the constant surges that this course requires on the bike.  With about half to three-quarters of a mile to go I glanced behind to see Nico.  The only thing I could do is try to dissuade him by putting in a surge and make it increasingly difficult to finish the catch.  It was to no avail, he grazed past, I took my second podium finish of the year in 5th.  I walked away very proud, riding very well on a course that is hard to practice for in Colorado.  There is little to second guess and but much to have great faith in with this season, and with how things have been rolling and have a lot to look forward to in the future.
Mens Podium: Me (5th), Seth (3rd), Conrad (1st), Josiah (2nd), Nico (4th)