XTERRA Dawg Dayz Race Report
By Andrew Marsh, XTERRA Points Series Manager
Burns Park - North Little Rock, Arkansas
Typically Victory Lake - an enclosed waterskiing section of the Arkansas River - is dead flat, semi clear, and warm. This past Saturday athletes competing in the 7th Annual XTERRA Dawg Dayz off-road triathlon faced very different conditions for the 880 yd swim. Widely reported flooding in the mid west brought water levels up so high that one almost couldn't distinguish the Lake from the River and offered athletes a stiff upstream battle on the first leg of the rectangular course. The current also churned up the silt prompting one competitor to say "Gee - I'd expect chocolate milk to taste better" as she exited the water.
Apparently Jocelyn Wood (31, Broken Arrow, OK) didn't take much notice of the current as she used her collegiate swimming background to take an early lead. Making the turn at the downriver bouy Wood pulled away from all others and existed the 82 degree water well ahead of the pack. With a quick change from swim to bike gear Wood exited transition in a combined time of 11:50.
Chuck Olinger (41, The Colony, TX) marked his return to XTERRA action from a couple year break by posting the second best swim split: 12:25. Marc Inderhees (40, Frisco, TX) was 3rd on to the bike in 13:07.
Burns Park, one of the largest municiple parks in the country, features two 18-hole golf courses; two 18-hole disc golf courses; a baseball/softball stadium complex; 17 field soccer complex; 29 tennis courts (6 indoor); 3-acre dog park and miles after mile of trail that challenges veteran XTERRA athletes and newbies alike. The 11 mile MTB kicks off with a ¾ mile paved stretch before hitting the trailhead. From there it's quickly "game on" as riders drop into mix of semi-loose tight single track, rolling wooded switchbacks, and a monster hill that takes you up to a bluff overlooking the venue with an awesome view of downtown Little Rock. Then it's back in the thick of it with quad burner ups, open forest, and screaming fast flats. The bike pops out at the same trailhead and returns to T2 via the road.
Patrice Lhommeau (38, Germantown, TN) was off the bike first in a combined Swim/Bike time of 1:02:58. Wesley Pruitt (27, Conway, AR) was on his heals just two seconds down in 1:03:00. Jocelyn Wood maintained the ladies lead heading out onto the run in 1:08:02. Karen Robertson (49, Grapevine, TX) made up all but 50 seconds of her 3 minute swim deficit to Wood by posting the quickest women's bike split of the day 56:12. The chase was on in both the mens and womens competitions.
The Dawg Dayz run kicks your butt early with a ½ mile climb from T2 to the highest point on the course via a steep loose gravel road. Then it's into the woods for a full complitment of shaded trails, log jumps, and welcoming ¼ mile camp road breather mid course.
Lhommeau lead a pace line up the hill to the first run aid station but then left one and all in the dust via a 25:43 blistering 3.5 mile run split - the best of the day by over two minutes. Lhommeau's winning time 1:28:41. Early men's leader Olinger and Ernie Lechug (Little Rock) moved up from 6th and 7th after to the bike to take the remaining podium spots via the 2nd and 3rd best run splits sprinting to the tape in 1:32:51 and 1:32:58 respectively. Blake Wagner and Steve Cole rounded out the top 5.
At the end of it Jocelyn Wood led wire to wire crossing the tape 10th OA in 1:40:52. Nice work!! What makes her win even more impressive is that Jocelyn only started mountain biking last fall and this is only her second ever XTERRA race. She took home the champions trophy at XTERRA Eureka Springs early in the month. That's two for two!!
Karen Robertson maintained her 2nd place position in 1:45:29. Veronica Battagli (36, Little Rock) earned 3rd spot with a 1:53:19.
A full third of the field were welcomed as first time multisport athletes and/or XTERRA newbies! Congrats and welcome!
Two XTERRA elder statesmen also toed the Dawg Dayz start line. Ed Hudcovic (67, Lavac, AR) formerly of HI participated in the very first XTERRA, then known as AquaTerra, back in 1996. Wilburn Powell (65, Mt.Ida, AR) was the first athlete to sign up for XTERRA's first mainland event - now known as the XTERRA Gator Terra in Ruston, LA. Both men have been challenging themselves and XTERRA courses worldwide every year since. Today Wilburn took top honors in the 65-69 Age Group.
The 7th Annual XTERRA Dawg Dayz was the first part of the Dawg Dayz Weekend. Sunday's Three Legged Dawg MTB races saw many XTERRA athletes do the "double". Karen Robertson took 2nd OA in the ladies Expert Class. Jocelyn Wood and Mari Hernandez went 1 - 2 in the Beginner Women's Class. Well done!
The XTERRA Dawg Dayz is also the second stop on the Arkansas Triple Crown of XTERRA racing. Three XTERRA Point Series event make up the Series - XTERRA Eureka Springs, Dawg Dayz, and Iron Will. XTERRA Iron Will is August 10th in Jonesboro, AR. Check out XTERRAplanet.com for details, results, and schedules.
Special thanks go out to the Teen Challenge crew - the work force behind the Dawg Dayz events and charitable benefactors of the race. Thanks guys!!
Congrats to DLT Event Management for hosting another fine weekend of XTERRA action. This one is not to be missed. Put the XTERRA Dawg Dayz on your 2009 calendar now. Live More!!
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