Editor's note: On December 28, 2013, Scott Scudamore, friend and fellow XTERRA triathlete, died from injuries sustained in a mountain-biking accident. He was well-loved within the XTERRA community and will be greatly missed - especially so by Kevin Adams.
Three years ago, Scud, Margaret, and I trekked to Sacramento, CA to race XTERRA Real after XTERRA Miami was cancelled. I remember a cold and somewhat rainy day that Scud handily beat me by 8:06. Little did I know then that it would take me two full seasons and 7 additional races together before I would finally beat the master at the 2012 XTERRA Nationals. That was Scud’s 47th, and final, XTERRA.
I expected to wake up to rain and cold, but the forecasters were wrong and the rain held off for this, the start of my 5thseason and my 48th XTERRA. The weather was in the low 50's. So as long as the rain would hold off, I would be fine. I’m part of the XTERRA Across America Team with Ben Dillon and 2013’s Mr. XTERRA Brent Bieshaar, and this will be our 3rd team race. XTERRA Real was supposed to be Brent’s race, but recent arthroscopic knee surgery is delaying his 2014 debut, so I picked up the slack and headed off to California.
Just prior to the start of the swim, Bill Driscol, the race director, held a moment of silence for Scud. Prior, he spoke about how Scud was a long time XTERRA Ambassador who competed here in 2011 and passed a few months ago. He also mentioned that I was doing the race in his honor. It was a very touching moment.
The water level was way down due to the drought, so the distance from where you exited the water to T1 was even longer than 2011. The water temperature was a balmy 63 degrees – as compared to 47 degrees when we last competed here. I think Bill sets the swim length based on water temperature as the course sure did look farther than it did three years ago (where it was short: I came out of the water in 13:12 in 2011 - and I don’t swim 800 meters that fast!) Then, as if reading my mind, Bill said the course was longer than 800 meters this year. Lovely. At the gun, the rain started – light at first, but the wind picked up and there were white caps on the water. Oh boy! I came out of the water in 21:00 – 7:48 off my 2011 pace. I had some work to do and proceeded to do it on the run to T1. In 2011, it took me 8:19 to run a shorter distance and finish T1. This year, I did it in 6:36. 6:05 off 2011 pace.
The rain was light during the 1st lap and I was strong on the bike. However, the rain’s intensity picked up to a deluge just as I finished the first lap, making the second lap treacherous and slippery. I backed off the pace a little, but still completed the 16 miles in 1:30:04 as compared to 2011’s 1:52:25. I set up perfectly in transition and had a 36 second T2 – thank you Ken Frankenberry!. Entering the run, I was 17:49 ahead of 2011.
I felt strong and steady. While I was passed by folks, I thought I was ahead of 2011’s pace but began to question when I got passed by someone in my age group a little over a mile in. The run has a 120’ climb in 1/10th of a mile at the halfway point. I ran up the hill – slowly – and then decided to push it on the downhill. By now, the rain was pouring even harder and every step was a slosh through puddles. Despite that, I kept going and crossed the finish line with a smile as I looked at my watch and saw I completed the run almost 3 minutes faster than 2011. My overall was 2:36:25 – a 20:38 improvement over 2011 and took 4th in my age group.
|Scud and Kevin, 2011 XTERRA Real|
The bike course is decomposed granite – looks like sand – and the rain will smooth it out and actually improve it so I wasn’t concerned about tearing up the course with the rain. It’s still raining here – badly needed – and it took me several hours to warm up after the race. The bike is now packed and with the front desk for FedEx pickup, laundry completed, and I have an early wake up tomorrow as my flight home is prior to 8 AM.