*Full XtTriathlon (1500sw, 25k mtb, 10k run) Sport (750, 12.5, 5k)
The course is set at Ellison Provincial Park in Vernon, BC. The beach is located at the bottom of a hill just below the provincial camp ground. The swim course was situated in a nice little bay area which allowed the water to be relatively calm. The course was a single lap for sport distance (2 laps for full) that followed slightly skewed triangle course (think scalene not equilateral for you geo whizzes). The water temperature was chilly but not bad (about 15 celcius) and the course was well mapped and defined. After exiting the water, the transition corral is only about 100 meters. This is where the race gets interesting. Once on the bike, you have a nasty climb out of the beach area up to the camp ground. After a brief reprieve through they campground the climb resumes as you exit along the road up to the Ellison Bike trails. In all this section of the course accounts for about 1-1.5 km. Once you hit the trails, you will quickly begin your ascent. The first climbs are tough but manageable. The most difficult part of the bike course is the beginning as you are forced to navigate a lot of technical turns, embedded rocks and roots, and increased elevation. In total, you will probably be climbing from the time you transition to the top for about 3-3.5 km. The great part is that once you are at the top, the course really levels out and generates some great technical turns, flowing flats, and short rolling hills. The Ellison Park bike trails are well maintained and an extremely enjoyable riding experience. The final part of the course can get a little hairy for inexperienced riders as you come down hill quite rapidly. With a little caution though, this section is easily manageable. The course pays back your effort with a same descent back into transition which gives you a chance to stretch your legs and prepare for the run.
The run course is different for the Full and Sport distance participants. Sport racers remain on the lower trails and do 2 loops of the course while the Full course participants head out on to some of the trails on the bike course (which don't interfere with the riders). The trails are really cool mixture of short climbs, some loose rock scrambles (very moderate), and flowing single track sections. You will enjoy this run. The final stretch is all downhill to the finish area which is located at the beach.
This was the second year for this event and a lot of the issues of the inaugural event were recognized and properly dealt with. We felt like the organizers did a very good job marking the bike course and having personel stationed at key points along the course. We actually rode the course the night before to make sure we knew where we were going and had no problem navigating the correct path. This was not an overly large event so course congestion was not an issue; however, the directors did have wave starts for the Sport and Full triathlon/duathlon for insurance. The swag bag was pretty average but you did get a high quality shirt ($20 extra on your registration fee but definitely worth it). There were aid stations set up strategically and St. John's Ambulance was there to provide medical attention. This was not a chip timed event but we felt the timing was fairly accurate. There were goodies and drinks available at the end of the race and a fundraiser bbq.
WHO IS THIS RACE GOOD FOR?
In a word: EVERYONE! We absolutely loved our first experience with XTERRA style events. We strongly encourage the traditional triathletes to get dirty and have some fun. A word of caution though. Make sure that you scope out the bike course in advance to determine you bike needs. Unlike a local sprint triathlon where you can ride whatever is in your garage and still finish, the same can't be said for going off-road. We rode the Ellison course in advance on our $400 lightweight hard-tail MTB and got annihilated. We quickly decided to rent a couple of good full-suspension 29'ers from the boys at Sky-Ride and had an amazing experience. Even if you are not into the swimming component, the XTERRA events usually offer a duathlon option. If you have been supplementing your tri workouts with a lot of trail running or mountain biking then you really need to give XTERRA a try. We flat out loved this event and are now planning to make off-road events a mainstay in our seasonal race planning.
*VISIT OUR PHOTO GALLERY FOR PICTURES OF THIS EVENT
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