Xterra England MTB Triathlon: 8 September 2013
Xterra racing returned to the UK after an absence of 7 years at Xterra England this weekend. As the 1500m lake swim began the morning sun gave way to showers and gusts of wind whipping up the lake at the Vachery Estate in Surrey. The swim was a slight dog leg left with 4 turn buoys to navigate. 1 pro wave and 3 age group waves kept the numbers starting to around 70 so we spread out and there wasn't a bun fight.
The bike course designed by Xterra pro Ben Allen was described as technical at the briefing and it did not disappoint. The first 5 km was mainly single track through the forest surrounding the lake with limited space for overtaking. There were plenty of obstacles to catch out those unused to this kind of riding including numerous bomb holes, adverse camber track and several slippy wooden bridges. Once out of the forest section the remaining 9.5km was mainly across grassy fields with a couple of short tarmac sections. Although this second section wasn't without obstacles including a handily placed metal girder at the bottom of a steep downhill grass section which given I hadn't ridden the course the day before almost caught me out on lap 1 of 2.
Just as I was starting my run I saw Ben Allen heading to the finish to take the win. I noticed he didn't seem that muddy as I headed across the grass field toward the forest. The run took us along some well crafted forest single track which twisted and turned and went up and down over earth banks some up to 3 foot high. Footing was tricky as the track was littered with holes and getting any sort of rhythm was impossible. In terms of run course obstacles, there was a ditch 4 foot across and deep that had to be cross once on the way out and once on the way back, the trunk of a tree the size of car that the course had been routed over and about 20 m of bog that I almost lost a shoe in. There were also some sections of the run across fields.
I finished in 2.53 good enough for 80th out of 251 finishers. Ben Allen took the win in 2.16 and Jackie Slack the women's title in 2.38. Both will be heading to Maui, Hawaii next month for the Xterra final.
All in all, a well organized event and I would recommend to anyone seeking something a bit different from the usual road based triathlons. I'll definitely be back next year.
If you have any queries about these results please email firstname.lastname@example.org