XTERRA Lake Tahoe- 2018
This race is EPIC!
If a person could do one Xterra race only in the United States I am a firm believer that it should be this one.
After having recently moved to California it was an easy decision to clear my calendar and make sure that I'm fit and ready for this race.
While I was ready I can't say exactly that I was 100% fit. No excuses here, but during the last couple of years, I battled with all sorts of injuries from ankle sprains to hamstring injuries, knee problems to calf issues. Throw in some back problems as a result of snow shoveling- because there's only one way of shoveling snow by hand and that is the way to hurt your back.
I was fairly fit but at least capable of racing for three hours. A fellow pro triathlete, Jessica Koltz helped me with an impromptu homestay after I realized that campsites were not available on the day of my arrival in Incline Village.
Her help and her parent's awesomeness allowed me to be rested for the race. Thanks Jessica!
The course at Lake Tahoe is nothing short of breathtaking. The swim takes place in the lake. It's one of the clearest water in the U.S. and arguable the cleanest. During our pre-swim I could see probably 30 feet below. The water was choppy and cold but that's not an issue with a wetsuit. By the way the race is almost always wetsuit-legal.
The bike course is what really sets this race apart from other races. Out of T1 there's a good mile, mile and a half of gradual climb on the road that allows racers to get in their shoes, put the gloves on, fix their shades, shoot some selfies, and fuel up for the climb ahead. Once starting the climb by Tunnel Creek Cafe there's no turning back. The course is a giant lollipop and climbs from 6300t to 8600ft. It is a rough one, I know, but the views are phenomenal. Riding on the east side of Lake Tahoe on the Flume Trail the lack of oxygen won't be the only reason why you'll be gasping for air. Selfies must be taken here so all of your followers on insta, twitter, or fb will be jealous. On one side there's a giant wall of rocks and steep mountain while next to you is the drop that doesn't seems to stop for 1000s of ft. The view is something to behold. Check out the video below- grabbed from Big Blue Adventure (the race organizer's website)
The climb continues through mile 16, and it is sometimes rather steep.
At the top, however, you come across with some pretty alpine lakes, giant boulders, and a scape that seems like it was painted there.
No time to rest as the first main section of DH requires all of your attention. Drops, roots, more rocks and switch backs are all part of that deal. All of this was on the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Once clear and gone the real DH starts. You'll basically backtrack your way on Tunnel Creek Rd Trail, past the Tunnel Creek Cafe and back to T2.
The run course is fast and furious. It is entirely within Incline Village and never leaves the race compound by more than a mile. Two laps of 3 miles for a little short of 10k in total. Lots of turns on the course and it is suggested that you pre-run/walk the course before hand and not follow the footsteps of other racers. It's easy to get off course in the midst of all the pines when not paying attention to the chalk line, flags, or arrows.
On race day I drove an hour from Reno to Incline Village. The drive was through Mt. Rose highway and offered some fantastic views of Washoe country.
I tried to get everything set-up on time and I think I did pretty good. not perfect but who wants to be perfect?
Quick swim in the water for a warm up then I may have been one of the last ones to line up at the start. Of course, nothing goes according to plan and I realized it even before we took off. I forgot to pick up my chip. Who needs that anyway? I talked to Jessica who made a phone call and my chip was waiting for me at T1. Thanks Jessica, again!
It sure gave me something to worry about but I couldn't let that sap my energy levels too much. The swim did that for me. I reckon I mentioned that I wasn't in much of a shape yet and it definitely showed during the swim. My arms felt heavy and during the second lap of the 1500m swim I certainly felt the effects of it. My swim time was ridiculously slow but I had to push on. Onto the bike I went for it. Passed a few racers, relay and individuals and did my best to hydrate and fuel myself throughout the ride. Caught up to a racer at mile 13 with whom we went back and forth for the rest of the ride. He passed me on the DH while I reeled him in on the ups. This last sentence just summed up my Xterra carrier by the way.
Arriving back to T2 I was tired but not that much. I feel that there's always a lot left in my tank no matter how much I push it on the bike. Perhaps I don't ride at the level I could or perhaps I am just so awesome that... Nah, it's definitely the earlier.
Off the bike I ran the first lap conservatively, making sure that I don't roll my ankle, pull my calf muscles, or cook myself too early.
Once out on the second lap I rallied and passed a few racers and I'm glad I did because it meant that I made the podium!
I came across the finish line in 3rd place overall. I must say that I'm not 100% satisfied with that result but that's all I could do right now. I firmly believe that 4-5 minutes was left in the swim, 5-7 minutes on the bike and 2-3 minutes on the run.
The race was well organized with life-saver free food and beer at the end and as far as views go out on the race course it is unparalleled in the U.S.
It has long been on my bucket list, going back to 2011 when I first delved into triathlon, and I'm glad that I was able to compete here finally, in 2018.
It's a must-do for any off-road triathlete. Just be careful not to fall off your bike while looking down at the lake on the Flume Trail. It may cause some "minor" bruises. Do your picture taking during your pre-ride.
In 2019 the race will be held on August 17.
It is worth mentioning that Big Blue Adventures, the race organizers, host 38+ races in 2019. Xterra Tahoe City is another epic off-road triathlon but road triathlons, trail runs (including a Leadville qualifier), aquathlon, duathlon, and road races are all part of their offerings.
See you there?!