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2019 Beaver Creek Xterra Race Report

by Kurt Dallow, MD

On July 20th, 2019, I competed in the Xterra Mountain Championships held at the Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, CO. This was my 5th time doing this race but I was still a little nervous as it is a very challenging course and I felt I had a shot at a podium spot.

The race starts at Nottingham Lake, which is in Avon, at an altitude of 7400 feet. Then, the bike portion climbs almost 3000’ feet going above Beaver Creek Resort, which sits at 8108 feet. This is what makes this race so hard: lots of climbing at high altitude!

The swim was 1500 meters and consisted of two laps. The first lap was very congested and it was hard to get into a rhythm. The second lap was much better but breathing was difficult at that altitude. The water was 67° and surprisingly very clear.

The first mile on the mountain bike was on a bike path and as I mentioned above, a very steep climb for almost 3000 feet before we got to single track. It was pretty crowded going up but there were a few times when passing was possible. After the initial climb, there were some short downhill switchbacks and then some longer downhill sections across the ski slopes. The last portion of the bike course involved several narrow switchbacks and rocky traverses. Fun ride but definitely one of the harder ones I’ve done in an Xterra race.

T2 went smoothly and I was feeling good. My nutrition was working well (more on that later) and I felt ready to attack the run. That was a good thing because the run started uphill right out of the chute (ouch!). Running uphill at 8000’ is not easy but Xterra races are not known for being easy!

We gained another 700 feet during the 5.8 mile run. It was hot but not as hot as it’s been in others years. Fortunately, there was some cloud cover and a breeze, which made a big difference. The last half mile consisted of steep downhill switchbacks with a nice finish at the bottom of Beaver Creek Resort. 

Finishers were greeted with water or a Michelob Ultra (if they were 21), a bag lunch with  a wrap, cookie, and potato chips, which hit the spot while waiting for awards. I got 2nd in my age group, which qualified me for the World Championships, to be held in Maui in October. Things concluded about 2 p.m. and I headed home, tired, sore, dirty, but happy.

Overall, Xterra Beaver Creek is a challenging, but well organized race in a beautiful place, with plenty of volunteers and aid stations. The only downside is the amount of climbing at high altitude which can be daunting for those training at lower altitudes. But I love this race and will likely be back again next year.

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