Off-road triathlon’s biggest event of the year in Alabama - the XTERRA Southeast Championship - returns to Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County for the ninth straight year this weekend; May 17-18.
May 15, 2014 (Pelham, Alabama) – Off-road triathlon’s biggest event of the year in Alabama – the XTERRA Southeast Championship – returns to Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County for the ninth straight year this weekend; May 17-18.
The main event combines a one-mile swim in Double Oak Lake with a grueling 20-mile mountain bike on the highly acclaimed Oak Mountain “red trail”, and a twisty, turny, up-and-down 10k off-road run. This year there are professional and amateur competitors from 30 states and eight countries competing in the event.
“This venue is our model for big XTERRA races,” said XTERRA Managing Director Dave Nicholas. “It’s the perfect spot for a family weekend and with all our competitors camping and hiking and enjoying the atmosphere together – it’s a one-of-a-kind experience.”
Nicholas’ isn’t the only one with high praise for the course at Oak Mountain State Park. Runner’s World Magazine called the trails one of America’s “Crown Jewels – 25 best trails in the nation,” and the International Mountain Bicycling Association granted them the prestigious EPIC designation – given only to those rare trails “guaranteed to blow your mind.”
The course lures professional athletes from around the world and amateurs from across the nation to Pelham, and the accompanying two-day XTERRA Sports Festival provides local athletes and outdoor enthusiasts an opportunity to join in the fun.
The XTERRA Southeast Championship triathlon is the second of four regionals leading up to the XTERRA USA Championship in Utah, September 20. Pros battle for their share of a $15,000 prize purse and for points towards the overall series title while amateur athletes compete for age group titles and one of the 46 qualifying spots into the XTERRA World Championship in Maui.
In addition to the XTERRA Championship and half-distance XTERRA Sprint off-road triathlons on Saturday, XTERRA will host a full set of trail runs on Sunday. Events include 5km and 10km fun runs as well as a half-marathon trail run. At the expo participants will also find free clinics taught by pro athletes, corporate tents, demos, giveaways, music, and food.
Competitors, spectators, friends and family are encouraged to stay in one of the myriad of hotel offerings in Pelham for the weekend and take advantage of Oak Mountain State Park which serves as the ideal setting to run, mountain bike, go fishing, ride horses, or go golfing.
The elite race on Saturday is certain to be an exciting one – featuring the best in the U.S. including defending champ Josiah Middaugh against the World-beater Dan Hugo of South Africa who has already claimed five championship races this year.
Men’s tentative pro start list…
Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
1 – Josiah Middaugh – 35, Vail-Eagle, CO
2 – Bradley Weiss – 25, Cape Town, South Africa
3 – Mauricio Mendez – 18, Mexico City, Mexico
4 – Branden Rakita – 33, Colorado Springs, CO
5 – Craig Evans – 36, Hendersonville, TN
7 – Dan Hugo – 28, Stellenbosch, South Africa
8 – Chris Ganter – 35, Boise, ID
10 – Ryan Ignatz – Boulder, CO
12 – Jeff Smith – 31, Portland, OR
14 – Ryan DeCook – 33, Rochester, MI
15 – Will Ross – 24, Anchorage, AK
17 – Nick Fisher – 28, Ogden, UT
19 – Andy Lee – 41, Lakeway, TX (Great Britain)
NR – Karsten Madsen – Guelph, Ontario, Canada
NR – Sean Bechtel – 30, Caledon, Ontario, Canada
NR – Charlie Epperson – 37, Tamuning, Guam (TN)
NR – Alex Modestou – 27, Washington, D.C.
NR – Jean-Philippe Thibodeau – 23, Quebec, Canada
NR – Noah Wright – 39, Tasmania, Australia
For the women it’s all about who can catch the remarkable Flora Duffy, a two-time Olympian from Bermuda that just won the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race.
Women’s tentative pro start list…
Rank – Name – Age, Hometown
1 – Flora Duffy – 26, Boulder, CO (Bermuda)
2 – Emma Garrard – 32, Park City, Utah
3 – Shonny Vanlandingham – 44, Durango, Colorado
4 – Suzie Snyder – 32, Fredericksburg, Virginia
5 – Chantell Widney – 34, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
6 – Danelle Kabush – 39, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
7 – Kara LaPoint – 26, Truckee, CA
9 – Jamie Brede – 36, Breckenridge, Colorado
12 – Amelia McCracken – 30, Philadelphia, PA
NR – Caroline Colonna – 50, Taos, NM
NR – Christine Jeffrey – 41, Tucson, AZ (Canada)
NR – Solana Kline – 31, Bend, OR
XTERRA Southeast Championship and Sprint Triathlons
When: Saturday, May 17, 8 a.m. start Where: Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham, Ala.
Course distances: Championship features 1.5K swim / 30K mountain bike / 10K trail run. Sprint race features 750-meter swim / 15K mountain bike / 5K trail run
Who: Open to triathletes of all skill levels
XTERRA Oak Mountain Trail Runs
When: Sunday, May 18, 8:00 a.m. start
Where: Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham, Ala.
Course distances: 21 kilometers, 10 kilometers or 5 kilometers
Who: Open to runners of all ages and skill levels Website: http://www.xterraplanet.com/trailrun/oakmountain
Runners who compete in the 21K trail run can also earn points toward the 2014 XTERRA Alabama Series. The top age-group runners at the end of the 2014 season will be invited to represent Alabama at the 2014 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship at Ogden, Utah, on Sept. 21.
SERVATI INSPIRES ALABAMA RACERS
Just two weeks ago John Servati, a 21-year-old University of Alabama swimmer, died during the bad storms that swept through the state.
Reports from the incident hail Servati as a hero, explaining how he died while holding up a retaining wall that ultimately collapsed so his girlfriend had time to escape.
“It really touched us here,” said Casey Fannin, a long-time XTERRA athlete from Birmingham. “You kind of sit around and complain about the weather and then you hear news like this and it puts everything in perspective. Makes you realize how lucky you are to be able to go out and ride and enjoy life.”
Sam Morgan, who was also a swimmer at the University of Alabama, said he’ll be racing the XTERRA Southeast Championship next weekend in support of Servati, his family, and for the team.
“I graduated a year before John joined the team, however, because my family and I live in Northport (just across the river from Tuscaloosa) I attend home meets when my schedule allows. We had heard the evening before, as the tornado watch was lifted, that Tuscaloosa had lost another young life to storms. I only met John once but any Alabama swimmer is a teammate of mine.”
Morgan, who works for the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority as the Fitness Program Supervisor, has just recently got into XTERRA and this will be his first time racing at Oak Mountain.
“I love having the trails at Oak Mountain close by. I do a lot of my training in Tuscaloosa but am thankful to have the option to ride the first-class trails at Oak Mountain within an hour drive,” said Morgan.
He noted that one of the things he enjoys about the sport is being part of “the Tribe,” much like being part of the swim team in college.
“The thing that I enjoy most about XTERRA is the camaraderie, don’t get me wrong I definitely have a need to race, but the people that I train with locally make this experience outstanding,” said Morgan.
“There are five of us (Myself, Blake Gill, Rachel Frazier, Gary Falls and Rebecca Falls,) that made it a goal to qualify for nationals this year and we are well on our way. It is also amazing to see everyone cheer for each other at each race. Athletes crossing the finish line just to continue running back up the trail to cheer a competitor through the finish chute doesn’t happen very often, but I saw this as I was gasping for air at my last race at XTERRA Tiger.”
The 2014 XTERRA Southeast Championship is presented by Paul Mitchell and Shelby County Tourism. Sponsors include Muscle Milk, XTERRA Wetsuits, PowerBar, Gatorade Endurance, XTERRA Fitness, LifeProof, XTERRA Boards, the Utah Sports Commission, XTERRA Cycle and Tri Gear, City of Pelham, Oak Mountain State Park, Optic Nerve Sunglasses, XTERRA Apparel and the Shelby County Reporter.