A tale of two triathletes
They share the same passion, even train for the same events together. But after Sunday’s Nissan Xterra National Championship in Incline Village, Truckee residents Conrad Snover and Matt Chappell may be heading in different directions competitively.
“I’m not sure how much longer I’m gonna do this,” Snover said of the Nissan Xterra Championship Series, an annual 50-race triathlon series the 31-year-old has competed in the last six years. “I’m not sure if it’s something I want to do next year. It might be my last year.”
Not so for Chappell, a 28-year-old rookie to the series, and sport.
“I think I may (continue with XTERRA),” Chappell said. “At some point I’d like to move on to compete in the Ironman competition.”
Chappell, a three-year Truckee resident and graphic designer for the Tahoe Donner Association, said he began “dabbling in triathlons” two years ago, starting by testing his multi-sport skills in the Donner Lake Triathlon.
A competitive runner most of his life, Chappell said he was green when it came to swimming and biking. But he enjoyed what triathlons had to offer.
“I wanted to be healthy and find something that worked into my life,” he said.
So he did a few more triathlons last year, then entered the open competition of the XTERRA Championship in Incline. After finishing first by a large margin his age group, Chappell decided to enter the XTERRA series this year.
Now, here he is.
“I’ve come a long way in two years, but I’ve still got a long way to go,” said Chappell, the No. 7-ranked amateur triathlete in the Southwest region’s men 25-29 (age) division.
This weekend Chappell will find out just how far he can go in his first XTERRA season ” a top two finish in his age group will send him to the Nissan Xterra World Championship in Hawaii on Oct. 29.
Snover has been there and done that.
“He’s got it dialed in,” Chappell said of his friend and training partner. “He’s pretty experienced.”
Thus Snover ” who has raced in the World Championship five of six years, placing fourth in his age group 2004 ” is a good guy to train with. He also appreciates Chappell’s company, and his competitiveness, when swimming, biking and running in the Truckee-Tahoe area.
“It’s great having a training partner in town,” Snover said. “We’re totally on the same page; it’s fun to have a training partner like that.”
But while Chappell is just discovering is potential in the XTERRA series, Snover said he may be winding down.
For one, his job with Denali Consulting keeps him on the road much of the time during the week, “which is contributing to my lack of training,” he said. Plus, it takes a lot of time and effort to stay on top of his game, and he’s just not sure he wants to maintain that level of intensity.
“This year I kind of have a different approach. I have a more relaxed attitude,” Snover said. “I’m going to focus on having a good time and just see what happens.”
Given his decline in training time this year, as well as his past results in the National Championship, Snover said he is a bit uneasy entering the weekend.
“I’ve never done well at this race,” he said, pointing out that his best finish was a third place in 2003. “For some reason I’ve just never been able to pull it together …
“Actually, I am a little nervous because I’m not sure I’m as prepared as I should be.”
Still, Snover ” ranked No. 6 in the Southwest region men’s 30-34 division ” is a force to be reckoned with.
In qualifying for this year’s National Championship, Snover placed first in his age group in the REAL Mountain Bike Triathlon in Granite Bay on April 2 and first in the Nissan Xterra West Championship in Temecula, Calif., on May 20. He was second overall in Granite Bay and 19th in Temecula competing against a number of professional triathletes.
And according to XTERRA marketing director Trey Garman, the men’s 30-34 is “hands down the toughest” division.
Chappell qualified for this weekend’s championship by placing seventh in his age group in Granite Bay and third in both the Solstice Triathlon in La Grande, Ore., on June 17 and the Wild Ride Off-Road Triathlon in McCall, Idaho on Aug. 27.
“I’m super excited. I’m so stoked to have gone through the whole thing,” Chappell said of his three races leading up to this weekend. “Now I’m here to race against some serious competition. I don’t want to jinx myself, so I’m happy with whatever happens.”
Can he place in the top two in his age group his rookie year, competing against pros, nonetheless? If so, he’ll be in Hawaii on Oct. 29 to face the world’s best.
“I’ll have to pull some tricks out of the hat to get a top two (finish). But you never know,” Chappell said.
Snover thinks his friend’s chances get better all the time.
“He’s gotten so much faster. He’s kind of scaring me,” Snover said. “He definitely has a lot of potential.”
Richard Silver, Tahoe City
Robert Kronkhyte, Tahoe City
Wendy Robinson, Tahoe City
Hugo Kenyon, Tahoe City
Emma Garrard, Incline Village
Ross McMahan, Incline Village
James Kaplan, Incline Village
Eric Ronning Men, Incline Village
Gene Murrieta, Incline Village
– Starts at 9 a.m. at Hyatt Beach
– 1,500-meter swim in Lake Tahoe
– 32-kilometer cycling leg
– 10K run to Village Green
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.