Northwest Cup Race Report

Here's the scoop on the Xterra.
This was one of the best venues for an Xterra that I’ve been to. There was the option to camp right in the state park. Given how far the park was from Coeur D’Alene, I opted to camp. Nick and I have all the gear from the 24 hour races, so it wasn’t like I would be missing something like a comfortable bed. Nothing like two thermarests for a great night’s sleep. Besides, I had a friend doing the Gauntlet short course tri, which started three hours before the Xterra. Camping meant that I could sleep in and take my time getting ready while my friend was racing.

Race morning dawned slightly overcast and really windy. The sun did come out just before the start of the Xterra. I made pancakes on the stove for my friend and myself, much to the envy of the other athletes in the campground. After breakfast, I got her bike on the car and wished her luck. The plan was to have her drive to the start and I would ride down later. I wanted to see the Gauntlet athletes struggling up the hill through the campground. I brought my cowbell for just that reason – every person received a warm, loud racket as a welcome to the top of the hill.

Then it was my turn to head down to the race start. I took the trail so I could double check the tire pressure and suspension on my bike. Everything worked and felt good. I got my transition area set up, squeezed into my wetsuit and trekked down to the swim start. This was truly a trek – about a eighth of a mile on rough gravel and up steep railroad tie steps. I did bring a pair of shoes for after the swim – just in case. The race director had even set up a small area for athletes to leave shoes.

The water was cold and choppy. The wind hadn’t died down and was whipping up small white caps out at the far buoys. It would be a fun swim. I personally like the rough water swims - but I’m also a strong swimmer. There were a few athletes warming up. I stuck a toe in and decided to wait. Jumping into cold water to warm up seemed a little backwards. This was a beach start – my first ever. I got a little swamped by the guys right after the gun fired, but soon settled into a good rhythm. I found myself right next to Mel McQuaid at the first buoy. I don’t usually pay much attention to where I am in the swim, but it wad cool to see that I was in the lead pack for the women. I managed to stay right behind her through the two laps on the swim. This was better swim for me then at Vegas – I was able to settle into a good pace and swim my own race.

Not so much for the transitions. I still need a lot of practice there – especially with the swim to bike.

This was one of the most enjoyable and scenic courses I’ve done for an Xterra. Two loops around the state park on fast and at times technical trails. It was a good mix of single and double track – a big ring hammer course that kept you on your toes. I was happy I did my sightseeing the pre-ride! The first section of the course was down along the lake on a narrow single track, then up through a slight hike-a-bike section before the huge hill going through campground. The next section was through the woods on another narrow trail with plenty of roots and rocks to keep things interesting. This was followed by a high-speed double track section leading into the final single track through the north end of the park. I felt a lot stronger and a lot more confident on the bike then in Vegas, even on the flat power sections. I was standing up more – though not as much as I need to be.

The run was just as much fun as the bike. It was actual, technical trail running along the shore of the lake before heading up hill and back around to the finish. I think that sections along the lake were just the most fun – you had to be paying attention and on your toes. I actually felt like I was able to run off the bike this time – I guess doing the brick workouts helped. I did not manage to catch anyone on the run, but I did close the gap on 6th a minute. I finished in seventh and I’m really happy with that. I still have some work to do (a lot of work) in transitions and on the bike.


Overall, this was just an outstanding event. The race director did a fabulous job, listening to the athletes regarding the course and timing, then making the changes as he needed. I can’t say enough about the venue and how pretty it was. There are also plenty of other events – not just the triathlon, so there’s something for everyone to do. I can see this race becoming a fixture on the Xterra circuit.

Here are some photos from the trip, race and the mountain bike race - http://picasaweb.google.com/TracyThelen.triathlete/XterraNorthwestCup#

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