The XTERRA USA Championship is the culmination of a series of more than 50 qualifying events across the US that award points to the top athletes in XTERRA’s eight regions. It is held in the beautiful mountains of Ogden Utah, in the resort of SnowBasin. Romanie went for the experience and scenery.
The swim was swimsuit legal with a water temperature of 62F. It was a group start with all age group athletes starting at the same time, leading to the usual face kicking, elbow jabbing, and lost goggles. The swim was supposed to be 0.93 miles, but there was significant current and the buoys ended up drifting, making the swim a challenging 1.4 miles.
The athletes popped out of the water and ran up the boat ramp into T1, the racks provided plenty of room and made maneuvering through transition simple.
The bike course was a true mountain bike course. Starting at the end of the swim course at the elevation of 4,900ft, the course climbed up to snowbasin resort which is at 6,391ft and is just over 10 miles of trail. The trail does have some rocky areas, but otherwise it is not technically challenging. The endurance to face the climbing grind is the true challenge to this course. Once at snowbasin, the climb then continues for another 6 miles up one of the mountain peak to an elevation of about 9,000ft. The path is smooth, through a beautiful aspen forest, and is not particularly technical, but the 13 switchbacks are steep and the low oxygen levels at that elevation make the climb even more challenging. However the view is simply amazing. The descent back into snowbasin is fast, and for those people not used to descents, challenging and scary. Romanie was not expecting the cramping in the forearms and weight bearing leg and could not believe how fast some of the other athletes took those. In the end, the descents were just as challenging as the climbs!
The run course was interesting, winding part ways up another peak of snowbasin resort. The first mile is a steep ascent on a dirt road, which most people walk, but soon the athletes dive into rocky trails and aspen wood paths. The 6.4 miles were quickly over as compared to the bike.
This course was incredibly challenging for someone training in Illinois. Although the course was not technical, the grinding climb and elevation posed unique challenges that we cannot adequately prepare for in our area. Special thank you to Kirsten Pieper, Laura Wheatley, Jennifer Sandenaw and Scott Metzler for making it such a great trip!