Nissan Xterra off-road triathlon this weekend |

Nissan Xterra off-road triathlon this weekend

INCLINE VILLAGE – When the time came to choose a venue for the inaugural Nissan XTERRA USA Championship off road triathalon, series manager Todd Jackson went to work.

As a Bay Area resident he has recreated at Lake Tahoe for the past 20 years, and knew firsthand of its incredible potential.

The next step was nailing down a great course for the swim, mountain bike and trail run. Jackson scouted every side of the lake for the perfect combination and found what he was looking for in Incline Village.

“We needed a spectacular venue that would merit holding our national championship,” Jackson said. “Tahoe came to be our focus and after working with different visitors bureaus and researching things out, Incline came to the top of the list.”

The world-renown Flume Trail was obviously a spectacular draw, and combined with support from the village and Nevada State Parks, event details began to solidify.

Last year, more than 5,000 competitors across the nation registered for the off-road, multisport events, which are expanding to Australia, Japan, Great Britain and the Netherlands. This is the first year for the series to culminate in a national championship.

“Lake Tahoe has the distinction of hosting the first Nissan XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathalon, which will feature one of the most competitive, international fields of athletes to date,” said Tom Keily, president of Team Unlimited, the group that produces the series. “XTERRA is considered the world’s premier off-road, multi-sport event and we couldn’t have found a better world-class location for this race.”

The three-day event at Incline Beach, scheduled from Sept. 21-23, includes two different competitions for amateur and professional athletes, as well as an extreme sports festival, featuring exhibits, demonstrations, gear displays, a climbing wall and food.

On Friday, XTERRA will offer several free clinics, including Mountain Bike Like a Champion with pro Ned Overend from 1 to 2:30 p.m., a triathlon swim clinic with Colorado professionals Neal Henderson and Grant Holicky from 3 to 4 p.m., and a women’s mountain bike clinic with Canadian Olympian Lesley Tomlinson from 4 to 5 p.m.

The public is invited to participate in Saturday’s MicroSupreme MEGA XT (750 meter swim, 32K mountain bike, and 5K trail run) and anyone interested may register Friday from 1 to 6 p.m., online through Sept. 19 at, or by calling (877) 751-8880.

Athletes will negotiate a shortened version of the pro’s course, offering them the opportunity to experience on off-road triathalon. The race begins at 9 a.m.

There will also be a 5K and 10K run – which benefits the Challenged Athletes Foundation – open to the public that begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

The pros take off Sunday at 9 a.m. with the first competitor expected to finish sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The XTERRA creed, Mother Nature is Your Toughest Competitor, aptly describes the Incline Village course, which includes a 1.5K swim, 32K mountain bike and a 10K run, with athletes reaching 8,700 feet during the triathalon.

The swim begins at Incline Beach and after two 750 meter laps, competitors sprint through the sand to the bike transition.

From the beach, riders will head toward the Flume Trail, starting with a 1,600-foot vertical sand climb up Tunnel Creek Road. After riding the 4.4 mile section of single track, the group rides upward to Marlette Lake and eventually onto the Tahoe Rim Trail.

The cycling portion ends at Ponderosa Ranch where mountain bikers will reach for their running shoes and begin the 10K run that includes 1,000 vertical feet of climbing. Runners eventually rejoin the pedestrian trail along Lakeshore Boulevard heading towards the finish line, back where it all began at Incline Beach.

Many competitors visited the area in recent weeks to train and climatize their bodies for Incline, including Australian native Jody Purcell, who felt her sub-par showing at a regional championship in Keystone, Colo., was a result of little training at altitude.

“I don’t handle the altitude very well, and with half the competitors living and training at altitude, I would be giving them the upper hand if I didn’t climatize,” Purcell said.

This is Purcell’s first time in Tahoe and she is impressed with the beauty and the terrain, especially the infamous Flume Trail.

“It’s a tough, sandy ride. I’ve ridden it twice and its been different both times,” Purcell noted. “It’s ridable but parts of it are very soft. It’s absolutely incredible out there. You have to stop riding, it’s so beautiful.”

As for the swim, Purcell has barely stepped into the water, but has been training in the rec center and Burnt Cedar pools.

“We get to wear wet suits and it’s definitely not any colder than it was in Keystone,” said Purcell, who predicts the race to be the longest of the series.

The XTERRA Championship series is comprised of both amateur and professional racing groups, competing in 14 points series races, three regional events and the upcoming USA Championships next weekend.

The entire series culminates Oct. 14 in Maui for the world’s championship.

For the pros, organizers believe it’ll be one of the most competitive fields as they will be competing in the final series race where the points and dollars are doubled.

Amateurs will be vying for the title of becoming USA champion.

The pros will be fighting to win their share of the championship $30,000 purse, as well as $50,000 for the overall point series race winners.

Volunteers are still needed to help in the transition areas and feed stations, and serve as course marshals. Jackson is also looking to fill a paid volunteer coordinator position for the weekend. Anyone interested may contact him at (510) 644-1441 or by e-mail at

In light of the country’s recent tragedy in New York and Washingtion, D.C., XTERRA will be donating a portion of all entry fees to the American Red Cross.

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