XTERRA: Best of the West converge on L.A. | SierraSun.com

XTERRA: Best of the West converge on L.A.

Matt Brown
Sierra Sun sports editor

Photo courtesy of Lisa ToutantConrad Snover finished 19th overall and second among amateurs in the 2004 XTERRA West Championship at Big Bear, Calif., on Aug. 14-15.

Local Nissan XTERRA USA Championship Series competitors Conrad Snover and Zack Beekler both made impressive outings at the recent West Championship event in Big Bear, Calif., on Aug. 14-15.

Snover, a resident of Truckee, finished second in his 25-29 age group behind Jim Vance, who registered the best time among amateurs (2:27:36) in the 1.5K swim, 30K mountain bike ride and 10K trail run. Vance’s time was good for ninth overall, while Snover finished with the second-best amateur time and 19th overall (2:36:29).

Truckee’s Zack Beekler, 41, finished behind his usual nemesis, 42-year-old Tom Lyons of Reno, in the 40-44 age group. Lyons made up almost a two minute deficit to Beekler in the swim leg by finishing nearly nine minutes better in the run. Lyons finished 26th overall (2:40:35) and Beekler finished 34th (2:45:44). Beekler was ranked second in the nation in the 40-44 age group in 2003 behind Lyons.

For Beekler and Snover, the race is another successful step to the Nissan XTERRA USA Championship in Incline Village, Nev., on Sept. 25-26.

The West Championship at Big Bear, northeast of Los Angeles, was the 36th race of the season in the XTERRA Series. Once held in Half Moon Bay, Calif., this was the second year the West Championship was held at Big Bear.

“It’s up in the mountains, it’s beautiful, but the water’s pretty nasty,” said Snover, who finished sixth in the 25-29 age group in the 2003 XTERRA World Championship. “But the scenery is fantastic.”

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For Snover, Big Bear was only his second XTERRA competition in the 2004 season after pulling his hamstring during the first race of the new season in the REAL Mountain Bike Triathlon held in Granite Bay, Calif., on April 17.

“I couldn’t run for three months after the race,” he said. “But if I would have stopped or walked, I wouldn’t have finished first.” Despite the injury, Snover still managed to get first overall at Granite Beach on Folsom Lake with a time of 1:44:28. Beekler finished 13th overall in that event.

Snover said he also sprained his ankle training, so 2004 has not been as kind to him.

“It’s really the first time I’ve had any injuries,” he said, “so it was pretty frustrating. You just got to take it easy and let yourself recover. My hamstring still gets a little sore during the races.”

Despite the injury bug, Snover is determined to make a strong showing at the Sisters High Cascade Off-Road Triathlon in Sisters, Ore., on Aug. 21. It will be his third race of the year and will qualify him for the national championship.

The Nissan XTERRA Points Series is a spring/summer long series of off-road triathlons consisting of more than 40 races across the country. Amateur competitors must register in at least three events to earn points toward an XTERRA Regional Championship title. With the title comes an invitation to compete for a national title at Incline Village.

In XTERRA, the country is divided into eight regions, and invitations to nationals are given to the top point earners in each region/age group. The number of invites is based on competition within the age group. The top three scores posted by a particular racer are used to determine those invitations. The top two finishers in each age group at Incline will earn a trip to the XTERRA World Championship in Wailea, Hawaii, on Oct. 4.

[For more information on XTERRA, visit http://www.xterraplanet.com.

For overall West Championship results, visit

http://www.xterraplanet.com/race/results_04/west_04overall.html.

For more coverage of Big Bear, visit

http://www.xterraplanet.com/race/bigbear_04coverage.html.%5D

Big Bear is one of the most fun Xterra races in the country. The course is absolutely spectacular: Scenic and challenging, starting at 7000′ elevation.

I’ve been out of commission since the Xterra triathlon in Granite Bay (Sacramento) this April, where I pulled my hamstring. Just when I began to recover, I sprained my ankle two months later in a nasty mountain bike crash. As a result, my training this summer has been very limited and I went into this race with low expectations.

I was aiming for a top-10 finish in my age group so I could continue earning points to qualify for the National Championship race in Tahoe in September. Therefore, when I exited the water a minute or so slower than usual, I wasn’t surprised.

Since I have been able to continue riding my bike through my injuries this summer, I was planning on hitting the bike section hard, then holding on as best I could through the run. I charged out of the first transition area and passed all but one of the amateurs in front of me on the way to the first climb.

I was psyched with the way my legs were holding up ” I was pushing a larger gear, since unfortunately my legs seem to be more fit than my lungs. I was able to keep a few of the pro racers in sight slightly longer than I typically do and held my position among the amateurs until the end of the bike leg.

As I entered the transition area, the announcer told the spectators to watch my “well-practiced, quick transition.” Little did I know that I had a respectable transition technique, but since I was being watched, I blazed through what may have been the fastest transition I’ve ever had, taking approximately 30 seconds to enter the transition area, run to my rack, hang my bike, remove my helmet and gloves, change from bike shoes to run shoes, grab my race number and exit the transition area. From now on, I guess I should pretend that everyone is watching my transitions!

The first 3-4 miles of the run course wound uphill through the ski area, followed by a mile of rolling terrain, and finishing with a mile of what appeared to be a near vertical descent down the center of the ski run.

My plan was to use my Timex heart-rate monitor to keep my effort high and steady “175-180 bpm ” for the entire climb. It was brutally hard; at times I thought for sure I would blow-up, but it worked and I held off all but two runners (and both of those were professionals).

The final results found me 19th overall, the second amateur finisher and second in my age group. This earned me a qualifying spot for the World Championship in Maui in October and 90 more points in my quest to qualify for nationals in Tahoe. I was very pleased to do so well considering my injury-plagued summer.

Two of the most important lessons I learned were the paramount importance of a well-fit and well-maintained bike. My brand-new Tomac Revolver was completely dialed-in by Greg at Cyclepaths, and what a ridiculous difference it made. During the race, the shifting worked perfectly, the brakes were perfectly adjusted and didn’t rub, and the bike didn’t make any noise. This allowed me to focus entirely on racing, and not get annoyed at little problems that may seem insignificant.

Several weeks ago, I had Scott at Tahoe Forest Physical Therapy conduct a fit analysis. He identified that a poor fit was contributing to my slow recovery from my hamstring injury and was possibly related to the cause. He significantly adjusted my saddle and handlebar and, as a result, I raced with more power and no pain.

Next up, I’ll be racing the Xterra in Sisters, Oregon this weekend to hopefully earn the remaining points I need to qualify for the USA National Championships in Tahoe.

[Conrad Snover, a Truckee resident, writes a race report for each Nissan XTERRA USA Championship Series race. He finished third in nationals in the 25-29 age group in 2003.]