XTERRA has trail races and offroad triathlons throughout the country. This was a 15K (9.3 Miles) trail race that took place in Beech Mountain NC on July 28th. Elevation 5,500′. The highest town on the east coast. A total of approx. 1500′ of climbing. You know this wouldn’t be a 6 minute per mile pace for the fastest of runners.
Conditions were great for race day, considering it’s still summer. Temperature was about 65 degrees and sunny when I arrived to check in and pick up my bib. It was to remain sunny and climb to about 75 degrees at race time. Still warmer than I like, but tolerable considering the 90 plus degree weather I had been running in for the last couple of months. I was really looking forward to this race, afterall, it is XTERRA. I have been watching the XTERRA adventures on TV for years and have often wanted to run some of their races and I was not disappointed.
8:25 AM we all start lining up. At the time, I couldn’t tell how thin the air was, but after about 1/4 mile, I was already breathing heavy. I live in Charlotte NC at elevation 750′. HUGE difference. But again, I had no idea. I had never run at that elevation. The horn sounded precisely at 8:30 AM and we were off to the races. We ran up a gravel road, then onto some pavement. After about a half mile, we started up the Chair Lift.
At the top of the Mountain we entered the woods onto the single track. There were millions of roots, some mud, and rocks. We went up and down and all over the mountain. A couple times. It felt like it was 20 miles, all up hill. The hardest part was the final climb to the top of the mountain, around mile 7.5. The last mile was all downhill to the finish. This was an extremely tough and challenging course and lived up to the expectations of what I have come to know as XTERRA.
The course was in great shape. It was well-marked, with some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera, but I did stop for a few seconds to take in some of the views. At one point the trail peaked on a boulder that was protected by some caution tape. Yes, caution tape. I guess the good thing is that the caution tape wasn’t broken…. I have no idea how far the drop was and I wasn’t about to look.
At the finish, the crowd was cheering for everyone as they crossed the finish line. There was music and refreshments provided by Dirty Spokes Productions.
Can’t wait to run it again next year.
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