Triathlete is Maui bound to challenge the world | SierraSun.com

Triathlete is Maui bound to challenge the world

Emma Garrard
Sierra Sun

This weekend I’m going to Maui for a well-deserved break ” the first week-long vacation I have taken since starting at the Sierra Sun more than a year ago.

But my vacation comes at a price …

Before I can think about relaxing at the beach ” actually, this will never happen with my family, as it will be intense two-a-day surf sessions as soon as the race is over ” I will be thinking about lava rock gashing my mountain bike tire’s side wall, severe dehydration and running through deep, hot sand.

I will be competing for the second year in the XTERRA World Championships in Maui on Sunday. This year I know what I am getting myself into and will hopefully be prepared, although the last race ” the XTERRA National Championship in Incline Village ” was 30 degrees when I was warming up.

This year, I will stand on the shoreline as the USA amateur champion with a shot at winning the amateur world title. I know my competition is tough and experienced, and I will face twice as many competitors as nationals.

But there’s one advantage I do have: I know the support of friends and family will push me up every hill on the grueling course.

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I do not have a coach or major sponsors, just help from friends who will inspire during the race ” it has gotten me to where I am today. Here then, are a couple quick shouts ” for them:

To Cyclepaths, a bike shop in Truckee and Sunnyside that has sponsored me this season with bike tunes, advice and the occasional T-shirt to go.

To Incline resident Gene Murrieta, who lent me a bike for my XTERRA race in Granite Bay, Calif., 18 months ago. Gene was the one who dragged me out to Incline’s XTERRA bike course for the first time. That’s when I swore I would never EVER, do the race. He has been my trusty travel companion to regional races and has even taken to doing my job (taking photos) so I can race.

To Incline resident Mario Gallardo, who goes riding with me whenever I call and gets me through those tricky sections I never think I can ride.

To Master John, who gets me race-ready with his famous Shiatsu massage ” and reminds me to breathe.

To Karen Gaffney, the Portland, Ore., woman who just completed a swim across the lake. She is very inspiring just because she believes in herself and in proving people wrong.

To Pet Network alum Kip, a year-old border collie who is always the most enthusiastic training partner ” and would be the next XTERRA Champion, if only four-footed contestants were allowed.

To Truckee master’s swim coach Amanda Conk, who always gives me tips during the morning sessions.

Thanks to those “crazy people” who say I should go pro ” don’t know when I’ll be ready, although I do like those pink swim caps the pro women get to wear.

To XTERRA staff for putting on amazing, fun and challenging races and making it personal by knowing the names of most the athletes.

To the Challenged Athletes Foundation for always reminding me I have nothing worthy to complain about during my race.

To Sylas Wright, the Sierra Sun’s sports editor who always runs my race columns, even though they are WAY too long.

And to the people who actually read my column, thanks. I’m glad I can give people the satisfaction of racing without the hassle of breaking a sweat or remembering those 30-plus necessary items you need to bring to each race (I’m not exaggerating).

Good Luck to all the other local athletes who qualified for XTERRA World Championships race: Ross McMahan, Sarah McMahan, Eric Ronning, Gary Mandy and Richard Silver.

Emma Garrard is a photographer for the Sierra Sun. She may be reached at egarrard@sierrasun.com.

Check out the Sierra Sun next week for Garrard’s post-race column.