August 2006
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Month August 2006

Panther Creek Xterra

The Midnight Rush AR is right around the corner and it’s been sucking up every spare moment I’ve had for weeks (thus the lack of updates). I was looking forward to the xterra, as I knew I’d need some stress relief and wanted to do a shorter solo event to prep me for the upcoming Tsali Challenge next month. The race ended up being further than I thought, so I drove up Saturday evening and camped out (which I’ve never done solo before. Besides some challenges getting the tent up – missing some stakes – things went well).

Saturday morning I woke up and went to registration, where I saw 2 friends from Atlanta which was a nice surprise (as I didn’t know anyone else). After body marking, we made our way down to the transition area and hung out a bit. The race started in the water with a 2-loop swim course in the lake, totalling 1 mile. I survived and wasn’t last; goal accomplished! Then it was a short dash up the boat ramp, across some gravel (ouch!), then to a grassy patch that led us to the bike racks.

The singletrack was luckily dry, the storms from the previous day apparently missing this northern corner of Tennessee. The 15-mile bike course was primarily singletrack, with some doubletrack & forest service road thrown in. In the first mile, I passed a lot of folks as they fiddled with their platform pedals. As I continued, I didn’t see any familiar xterra tape designating the correct route. After what seemed like forever, I began to think I got off course – very unsettling. I dreamt up scenarios of me getting lost and having to withdraw as runners were coming in. Luckily though I came across another person who agreed with my confusion, but right then the magical arrows appears. Yeah! The rest of the bike went pretty well. I wasn’t blazing, but I was solid. The fun was interrupted for a hike a bike thru the trout lilly rock garden. Wow. Those were some killer boulders!

Following the bike was the final event, a 4.5 mile trail run. Luckily this was shortened from the original 8 – perhaps due to the length of the course already and the crazy heat wave we were experiencing. I felt great starting the run, although I realized at the start that I did not have my new inhaler (had grabbed an empty one by accident). I kept this in mind as I headed down the same trail we had just biked. People were pretty spread out by now and it was awhile before I passed anyone. As I closed in on one girl, I could see that she was in my age group (it’s written on our calves). Yeah! She was walking, so I felt pretty confident I could stay ahead. I had one wipe out on a gravely area which sucked, but otherwise came through with no injuries. The finish line was on the boat ramp, which made the perfect entry to the lake to cool off. (I almost wished the water was a bit cooler).

photos by Wilderness Adventure Photography

After some xterra swag giveaways and munching on some watermelon, the awards ceremony came and I found out I had won my age group – yeah me! Today I got a call that I also qualified for the Xterra National Championships, an invitation-only event. While this is definitely cool, I am no where near prepared to play with the big boys. Plus it’s at Lake Tahoe on the same weekend as the NOC 30hr.

My final time was 4:03:32

other stats:
overall: 30 out of 48 (men+women)

Swim: 45:50 (39th)
Bike: 2:29:55 (30th)
Run: 47:47 (21st)