The Xterra Wheeler Canyon Xduro was the fourth and final challenge in the Utah trail race series. Not being the strongest runner in the sport, I made a point to run all four races so as to maximize my overall score. Racers can earn between 28 and 100 points for placing in the top 15 within their age group. After 3 races, I was sitting uncomfortably in 4th place.
Several other competitions were going on at the same time, including the Xterra Mountain Championship Triathlon. Top athletes from around the world were there to compete for $20,000 in cash. Their race started before ours at Pineview Reservoir. We followed about an hour later, catching many of the slower triathletes on their bikes. I passed at least 10 or more myself.
Start of the triathlon
This was a mostly uphill course, from the reservoir up Wheeler Canyon to Snowbasin Resort. Something like 11 1/2 miles. I've never been a strong uphill runner. I'm known instead for my reckless abandon on the downhill, risking injury in exchange for a better time. (see previous posts on my knee injury 2 years ago, and my minor foot injury last year) Today, however, I managed to run the entire race, only slowing to drink at aid stations.
triathlon bike exchange
I made one huge error though. Our race start caught me off guard, and barefoot to boot. After being told our start time would be pushed back, a guy with a megaphone announced the cannon would go off in 1 minute. I was still stuffing my PB&J sandwich in my mouth as the runners shot off down the road. Took me 3-5 minutes to get my gear on and give pursuit. I expounded a great deal of energy at the start to catch the main group. Live and learn.
This was my worst finish of the four. Definitely a tough race, where I was breathing hard the entire time. I came in 44th out of 86 finishers, and only 10th in my age group, with a time of 2:00:28. I didn't feel my performance earned me enough points to make it into the top 3. Since the medals wouldn't be handed out until the awards ceremony that evening, I decided to head home. After looking over the names of the finishers in my age group, it appears the 1st place guy didn't run the final race, so by my calculations, the 41 points I earned for 10th place should move me into 3rd overall. I emailed the series manager for conformation. Seems I may have missed an opportunity to step into the limelight at last night's awards ceremony. Ok, so it's only the bronze medal, but still...