Xterra East Championship Race Report

After missing the Xterra East Champs the past two years, I was excited to go back to one of my favourite venues on the James River in downtown Richmond, Virgina this past weekend.  With J-F on his own with the kids for the first time for four full days (fingers crossed :)), I flew out to Richmond two days before the race, and enjoyed soaking up the warmth during pre-race prep, especially as cold, rainy weather hit Calgary, and even snow hit Canmore in the mountains!

The mountain bike course was longer, consisting of two loops, with the majority of it in the opposite direction from what I’d done before. Despite having raced in Richmond four times previously, it always takes several times to remember what is coming up next on the fun, twisty, technical trails. It is 100% pure single track, and super fun! Katie and I got two laps in on Friday, and ended the day coaching a women’s mountain bike clinic for the local Luna Chix team, along with my Luna Pro team teammate, Suzie. I might have had a bit too much fun in the pump track, as my upper body was still feeling pretty beat up by the time we were swimming in the James River for the race start at 8:00am on Sunday.

Looking back at Richmond from Belle Isle

Swim start and exit under the railway

Pros had their own race start, which was a treat on such a tight course, with the amateurs starting an hour and half later at 9:30. The swim started by crossing the James River, getting out for a short run on Belle Isle, and diving back in with a few zig zags around buoys before heading back to shore. I dangled in no man’s land behind Katie but managed to swim pretty straight despite the current, occasional rocks, car axels, bicycles and such distractions on the bottom of the river. Shonny, Katie, and I left transition together. Shonny soon rode away, and once I’d passed Katie in the single track, I didn’t see much of anybody for the rest of the race. With the goal of riding smooth, I was having fun riding my Maxxis Aspen tires for the first time, a fast tread and light, perfect for the hard packed trails, with occasional rock gardens to navigate!

Some great cheering support out on course!! :)

The temperature was really heating up by the second lap of the bike, and after 1h and 40minutes of riding, it was full sun into the run on pavement for the first few miles. After about a mile I saw my teammate Suzie ahead, and slowly reeled her in just before the “Mayan Ruins”, a steep railway ties climb (pictured below). I kept a good turnover but never felt super speedy in the heat. After getting slightly lost on the rocky river crossing, I made it through the woods and back over the bridge to the finish in 5th place. Not amazing, but solid for me on this course with the competition, I ended the day 2nd fastest run by 10 seconds, 4th fastest bike, and 6th fastest swim.

A look at the Mayan Ruins with Conrad, the men’s winner climbing up

Fellow Canadian, Melanie McQuaid, who was back in Richmond for her 12th time (wow!), took the win, with Renata Bucher (Sui) in 2nd, Lesley Paterson (Gbr) in 3rd, and my amazing teammate Shonny Vanlandingham in 4th.

After the race there was time for a shower, lunch, the podium, another stop at Bev’s ice cream shop (yum!!), bike packing and a little relaxing at our wonderful homestay, Audrey’s house (conveniently located right up the street from the bike course trails!) before heading to the airport for my 7:30pm departure to Toronto. I touched back down in Calgary after 1:00am, a LONG day, which I’m still recovering from!

Up next, it is time to get out on my TT bike a bit in preparation for the Great White North Triathlon east of Edmonton (a half-ironman distance race) on July 1st! Oh Canada…

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2 thoughts on “Xterra East Championship Race Report

  1. Way to go Danelle! It sounds like a really fun course. It’s got to be tough coming from such cold weather to racing in that heat.

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