With my kids happily settled into to life on Hornby Island and my husband doing some mad landscaping work on our house in Calgary before coming out to join us soon, I enjoyed a weekend away south of the border. After many years it was fun to be back in the land of my running years at the University of Washington. The weekend included a clinic with the Seattle Luna Chix Triathlon team and a new Xterra race adventure in Black Diamond, WA. (Although unfortunately I didn’t get to revisit the famous Dick’s Drive-In for the best hamburgers and milkshakes ever!)
It was a super fun time. On Saturday, my homestay Carrie and I drove down to Black Diamond from Sammamish (pronounced sa-MAM-ish, not sa-MA-mish as I kept saying, ha!). With 12 attendees, we talked the new-to-Xterra ladies through the specifics of swim-bike-running in off-road triathlons before going through a pre-ride of the two-lap 7.5 mile course. It was the most amount of single track over rocks and roots I’d ever seen, twisting like crazy through salal bushes, giant ferns and dark rain forests, quintessential Pacific Northwest style. It also involved almost zero vertical gain, not the best suited course for my strengths but a perfect one to practice my not so amazing cornering skills! Everyone did great on the ride and we all made it across the sketchy slick log for the creek crossing that we had to run through twice on race day (pictured below).
Race morning was perfect conditions, about 20 degrees C, slightly overcast but sunny by the end of the bike. The swim temp was made getting in with a wetsuit easy but wasn’t too warm either. It was a unique 1000m swim with the start taking us out between two large areas of lily pads. After that it was out around a buoy before heading to a tiny island. We were assisted up on to the island by coconut wearing volunteers before running no more than 20 metres across carpet before jumping back in and heading straight to shore. I was surprised to find myself in 3rd spot at this point and out of the water as well. With a bit of lily pad fright I lost a bit of time going too far right of the pads but still made it into shore and T2 in 17:12, nice length for a swim I figure, 🙂
Out on the bike it was nice to not have too much traffic. It was a course that required full focus to try to remember what was around each blind corner! Near the end of the first lap I heard a female voice sneaking up on me and wasn’t too surprised that there could be some stellar local mountain biking talent in the race. Turns out it was Solana Kline of Bend and the girlfriend of Ryan Trebon, and therefore knows my brother Geoff quite well – small world!! She had also just entered and won her first Xterra race at Vashon Island, WA! Solana was in and out of my sight for a while but on such a tight and dense course, it is hard to see anyone within 30 seconds but at least I was enjoying connecting the dots together better on the 2nd lap! As I headed into T2, I saw Solana running out so I had some work to do!
The run was a 2-lap almost figure-8 course with a pass near the finish 4 times. It was much like the bike course, always keeping you on your toes to navigate turns, and leap over roots, rocks and logs – only maybe a mile of open double track to just plain run! After 2h39min I crossed the finish for 1st in the women and 9th overall. A great day, and it was fun meeting lots of new Xterra friends! Thanks to Carrie, Eric, Seamus and Sirus Atwood for the amazing having me stay for the weekend with amazing hospitality! Congrats to Carrie who had a rocking day on the course and set a personal best time – no small feat just over one year after having brain surgery!
Next up – JABR mountain bike race, Squamish, B.C., Aug 17th
Congratulations on the win! Thanks for the pre-ride and the great time on Saturday!
Danelle, thanks for being such a great ambassador to the sport. I hope you’re all dialed in for national champs.