Town hosts off-road triathlon

by Emily Goodell | 8/10/09 10:00pm

About 440 participants competed in the Stoaked Off-Road Triathlon at the Storrs Pond/Oak Hill Recreation Area on Saturday and Sunday.
by Douglas Gonzalez and Doug Gonzalez / The Dartmouth

The standard triathlon course consisted of a half-mile swim, an 8.5-kilometer mountain bike ride and a 4-kilometer trail run. The XTERRA course was roughly twice that length.

Govan, who finished first in the women's 20-24 age division for the standard triathlon, said the experience was exhilarating.

"It was one long adrenaline rush," she said. "I love competing, the excitement, and I love open water swimming. I knew I wanted to get ahead in the swim."

Govan said she was ahead of her competitors coming out of the swim, but lost some time during the mountain bike race. Several students said they found the mountain biking portion of the race to be the most challenging because it required such a "technical" level of riding. The ride included stretches where competitors had to carry their bikes and called for balance and skill navigating around roots and other obstacles, participants said. It also took more time than the swimming or running portions of the race.

"It was just pretty long and pretty brutal terrain," Karen Orrick '11, who finished 21st overall on the standard course and fourth in the women's 20-24 age group, said. "The bike was mentally challenging more than anything else."

The toughness of the course, however, played to the strengths of those with mountain biking experience, according to Koons, who finished first in the XTERRA men's 20-24 age division.

"I was a little nervous, because I hadn't done too much swimming," Koons said. "I really liked how difficult the mountain bike course was it helps those with good technique."

Many students said the most appealing aspect of the race was the fact that, unlike most traditional triathlons, the event was off-road.

"I just really like running in the woods as opposed to running on pavement," Cristina Pellegrini '11, who participated in the trail run, said. "I didn't really treat it as a race; it was more like my run for the day."

Participants who finished in one of the top 15 spots in their age group in the XTERRA race earned points towards qualifying for the XTERRA National Championships in Ogden, Utah, according to the XTERRA website. Paul Salipante '07, now a student at the Thayer School of Engineering, qualified for the national competition, but said he will be competing in the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, Hawaii instead. Salipante finished third in the men's 20-24 division.

Dartmouth students were able to enter the triathlon free of charge in exchange for volunteering during the events in which they were not competing. Students helped direct the runners and performed "sweeps" after each race was completed, running the course behind the last of the runners to make sure that no one was left behind, according to Erin Larson '11, who organized the volunteers for the events. Larson finished second in the XTERRA women's 19 and under division.

This year saw the largest number of Dartmouth students participate ever, in addition to having a record number of total participants, race director Chad Denning said.

"Last year there were about 375 total participants, and this year about 440, so I would say that's a nice increase," Denning said.

Some participants entered as teams, and all of the entry fees paid by teams will be donated to the Dartmouth Outing Club, according to Denning and DOC President Tom Flynn '11, who finished in fifth place in the XTERRA men's 20-24 division.

Storrs Pond/Oak Hill is used heavily for cross-country skiing in the winter but less frequently in other months, so it is a pleasant change to see the area used during the summer, Denning said.

"Oak Hill is [the DOC's] playground, so it seemed like a natural fit," Denning said.

Laurie Woodman '11 placed third in the standard course for the women's 20-24 division, Daniel Hochman 11 placed fifth in the men's 20-24 division for the standard course and Marc Shapiro '10 finished 8th in the XTERRA race in the men's 20-24 division, according to the Stoaked web site. Results for the trail run were not published.