XTerra iron creek, spearfish, sd- august 17, 20132013 XTERRA Iron Creek
I was lucky enough to experience this feeling on two separate occasions this past Saturday and Sunday.
For the past two years now I have always wanted to visit the Black Hills in South Dakota and compete at the XTERRA Iron Creek event. Since I missed out on XTERRA Canada I had to go down or in this case way up in the mountains. While the Hills kept me excited during the entire trip getting there is another matter. We have driven so many miles already with Anna already in 2013 that even this shorter 5 hour trip felt like misery. Once there though I finally felt "home". Back in July I trained in Hungary and biked a lot in the mountains but this scenery was by far more beautiful. The race itself takes place in Iron Creek Lake and the area surrounding it. I expected a lone lake wit nothing but trees around it but there was campgrounds everywhere and bungalows. It was really cool to see so many people soaking in the sun on what turned out to be a very hot weekend. Since we didn't leave until Friday mid-morning pre-riding the course took place at a rather late time. It's definitely not ideal to scout the trails just before sunset, a night before your race. I managed to keep my heart down with only a few spikes when I couldn't hold myself back to enjoy gravity on some downhill sections. I would rate the course 6.5 on a 10 scale technicality-wise. It has two sections, one at the beginning about 1.5 miles in and about the same distance to to the finish where more focus is required. The rest of the course is hilly with occasional roots or rocks to dodge. We spent the night at the campground finally relieved from the sweltering heat. However our kind neighbors kept us awake as they didn't have to wake for a multi sport race day. Bundi, our dog, experienced her first night in a tent. She was ridiculously tense and got up for every noise and light coming from outside. Naturally, she barked into the unknown multiple times over the night to make sure we didn't sleep better than she was. In return I took Bundi for a morning run/walk around the run course. Again, not the ideal preparation before a race but no one knew this but my wife. The run course started with a quad-burner 600m climb followed by a downhill and flat section. Around the lake at mile 2 is where you had to be careful the most. The course dropped down below the lake level, below the dam where you had to jump on boulders and rocks the size of a car tire. The two laps on this 4k loop nicely took everything out of the racers that the 1000m lake swim and 20km single track mtb course didn't.
Not knowing who might be there to challenge me I swam fast enough to stay with the lead swimmers. Except one guy, who ended up charging to the lead and eventually exited the water a good 50 second ahead of me. I wasn't too concerned about me leaving the water that far behind. I trusted my strengths and the workouts I have had these past weeks. Exited the water in just over 15 minutes and after a 50 second transition I was already chasing down mr uber swimmer. I didn't need two miles by the time I caught up to him and passed for good. From that on I had no one ahead of me but deers, rabbits and more cows than all other animals together. I recall a good advice from the race director before the swim start to avoid that deep muddy section and try not to go straight through it. What did I do? Exactly that. What did it result in? Not only mud all over my bike but cow turd on my legs as well. It's easy to distinguish it from mud as it's a lot brighter in color and it stinks! I had no problem for the rest of the bike course though. Everything went according to the script I just created. I got through the most technical section of the course by getting off the bike as I rather not take risks when I don't have to. Off the bike I was onto the 8k run course. The first 600m uphill was easier than I expected. I still held myself back for the remainder of the 1st loop. After climbing the hill for the second time I finally opened up my strides and started enjoying the last 3k of the course.
As I said, nothing feel better, than winning and this was my first XTERRA XPS event win that got me closer to another USAT All American title. Awards schwag included a free Rudy Project helmet or sunglass coupon, a one night stay in a hotel in Deadwood, SD, another beer glass and a cool medal. The lower number of participants all sat in a circle and waited through the awards creating a really friendly and rather family-like feel.
XTERRA IRON CREEK RESULTS -though my official gps time is a minute faster than what's posted on onlineraceresults.com. Not sure where did I get another minute to my bike and run times. I know there was something glitch in their system.