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Xterra Oak Mountain Race Report

The 2021 Xterra Oak Mountain race was the Return to Racing for this xterra athlete. Oak mountain state park in northern Alabama ihas been the site of this race for many years. The state park is large nearly 10000 acres and is 20 miles south of Birmingham AL. The swim in a picturesqe lake 1500 yards long. The mountain bike course is 20.2 miles in length and is rocky and root covered. The 10K run is through the woods twisty and turny. Because of Covid concerns - a number of changes were instituted for this year. Everything from packet pickup to the swim and run courses were modified to keep athletes socially distanced as much as possible. The masss swim start was replaced with a rolling start where 2-3 racers would discard their masks in a trash can, hop into the lake from the shoreline and GO! The swim course was 1 long loop instead of two 750 yard loops. The run course was changed from a 2 loop course to a 1 loop 6.2 mile course. All the aid stations were self serve.


4 days before the race; there was a torrential rain that hit northern Alabama. The bike course was off limits for a couple of days to mimimize damage from riding while wet. I had planned on camping for 4 days in the Park’s campground but was rained out the first night. Ironically, the hotel in Pelham where I stayed had minor flooding in it!


Fortunately, race day dawned clear and dry. The Xterra crew did a great job setting up the race site with the transition, and layout designed to minimize close contact between racers. Masks were mandatory-No Mask-No Race!


MY RACE-I entered the race by practicing what Matt Dixon recommended- No expectations, Have Fun, Learn from the experience, and embrace the Return to Racing! It helped! My age division 65-69 was chock full of fast riders. My swim was great- took 3 minutes off my previous swim time thanks to better sighting and the Faster Freestyle technique I learned at Karlyn Pipes Faster Freestyle Swim Camp in Kona, HI in March. Biking was awesome- I just had not enough time on the trails in CO because of weather. The run was long and slow on tired legs. I knew going into the run I had expended too much energy on the bike. Cindy says -the triathlon sometimes is a Swim, Overbike, Walk.


I finished the race and found out that I placed 5th out of 6 in my age group. The competition is tough there at Oak Mountain. I will age up next year to 70-74, but with little consolation- I would have placed 3rd this year in the 70-74 year age division.


Overall I was happy- my nutrtion, hydration and mechanical went well , (Except my front hydraulic brake went out 1 day before the race. The local bike shop was unable to repair it in time, and I opted not to buy a new brake just for the race).


I am glad 2021 marks the Return to Racing! Let’s all do our parts to insure we have a safe triathlon season in 2021.


Want a training plan for an Xterra race from an experienced Xterra athlete and coach? Click below to contact Dr. Kurt Dallow for more information.




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