As I look back on the season that started in January with a few snowshoe races that ended with a ticket to Nationals in Frisco Colorado; to suffering through Barry Roubaix on my MTB; to shredding my front tire on a downhill at Big Frog 100k in Tennessee; to racing Yankee Springs with swollen lymph nodes; and finally busting my seat post in two racing Stampede at the fort finishing most of the race standing. I should say I was reluctant to sign up for my first Xterra of the year. Who knows, maybe I would get run over by a moose or something.
One of my favorite off road triathlons is the Xterra Last Stand held in Battle Creek MI. Is a .5 mile swim, 13 mile mountain bike, and 4 mile trail run all through the beautiful single track of Fort Custer Recreation area. This is a sprint triathlon which means its going to be fast and intense with a high heart rate from start to finish. The weather was great. Sunny and warm! A little to warm for late May. Last year it warmed up to about 60 degrees but this year it topped off at 80! Good thing we had 80 degree temps in March that helped prepare me for this. I grabbed my spot in transition and warmed up. Over 130 racers lined up at the start waiting for the gun to go off. Which is always exciting because there's only a few minutes before you hit the water and so many things are running through your head. Did I put my bib plate on my bike and belt? Did I remember to put my bottle on my bike? Did I remember where I racked my bike? Next thing I knew, I was in the water looking for the first buoy and dodging other racers arms and legs! The swim went well. I settled into a good pace gaining on the leaders and exited the water 13:14 20th overall. I had an alright transition at 1:18 and passed a few riders on the road before hitting the single track. I was hoping to get around more but I ended up in a bottle neck the first mile in. I found a few places to pass and took advantage of the opportunities. A fellow racer by the name of Andrew Holly who I've raced before in a few MMBA races passed me about 2 miles in. I was surprised and tried to hold onto his rear wheel. I took a corner to fast and my front wheel tracked off into some loose sand on the high side of the turn and next thing I knew, I was down and skidding on my side. I popped back up and started hammering again. I tried getting around two more riders that where a little reluctant to let me pass, so I made my own trail and passed them anyway. I put the hammer down looking for Holly and found him around mile 6. I latched on to his rear tire and all of a sudden he went down hard. I asked if he was ok. He gave me a nod and told me to go. I wasn't sure where I was overall, but I knew I had to be close to the front. I didn't want to go to hard because I had to save some for the run. The rest of the bike split was fast and fun. The trenches are my favorite part to ride because it feels like your on a roller coaster flying through the trees. I entered transition with 51:27 on the bike and had a good transition at 49 seconds and was off running through the woods on the final part of the Xterra. Andrew followed me in and was on my heels for the first mile. I felt some strength come back to my legs and decided to pick up the pace a little bit. I was able to drop a few runners and gain on two. At this point I knew I was 4rth overall but with 2.5 miles to go I knew allot could happen. And off course, it did, two runners who where just hauling passed me at a pace way to fast for me to keep up with. I tried pushing harder but my legs said no way. I was able to keep my position and finished the run split at 32:10. Not what I was hoping for but glad to be done. I finished the race in 1:38 which was 1st in my age group and 7th overall. I also took home the fastest bike split of the day. I sure had fun meeting up with some of my racing buddies again and hats off to Elite Endeavors for another flawless event. God Bless!