Tips for the Trail – Utahns have the XTERRA Nationals in their Backyard – XTERRA 7-20-2012

By Rachel Cieslewicz

published in Xterra July 20, 2012

This one is for the locals. Or, perhaps for all who will wish very deeply you could move to northern Utah – for at least the next two months – after reading this!

Late summer and fall is my absolute favorite time of the year in Utah.  The skies are sunny and the air is warm.  All of my favorite mountain trails are clear of snow and full of wild flowers – perfect for running and cycling for hours, every day of the week.  And of course, we have an incredible wealth of world-class breweries delivering full strength ales to all seeking après recreation refreshment.  If I couldn’t imagine it getting any better, last year northern Utah became the envy of the nation.

XTERRA brought their Trail Run National Championship to my back yard. For 2012, they will be back to the Snowbasin Resort, September 22-23, for another fantastic round of both the XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathlon on September 22, and the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship on September 23. It is one weekend of the most fabulous fun you could ever have on a mountain.

If you are lucky enough to live in Utah, this means you have an incredible home advantage.  Snowbasin is less than an hour from Salt Lake City and only 15 minutes from downtown Ogden.  The award-winning site at Snowbasin offers sunny days, dry crisp air and light crowds (as compared to other mountain resorts), making for the best conditions ever for enjoying the outdoors!

Locals are fortunate to have XTERRA Trail Run Nationals so close. Travel is easy of course!  You get to sleep in your own bed pre-race as well. Whether you are an elite or a beginner, this event gives Utahns a chance to stand on the same starting line as some of the top athletes in the nation. What other race in Utah can say that?

Even more exciting is there are no qualification standards to race. In other words, you are all invited! This can be a complete friends and family affair. If you have never raced in an XTERRA Trail Run before, this is a great opportunity to see what the buzz is about (there are 10K and 5K courses available in addition to the 21K course, so there’s something for everybody). Perhaps you will run your way to a win and claim a national title in your home state! All I can say is it is completely worth it to make it a weekend in September with the XTERRA family.

In addition to the race weekend itself, Utahns have the opportunity to play at Snowbasin as much as we want before the big race hits.  Here is my advice to make the most out of the beautiful fall weather and scenery, and of course be ready to shine at the big event:  Arrive on a Friday evening at Snowbasin with trail running shoes and mountain bike in tow.  Enjoy running or riding the many epic flowing single track trails to your heart’s content, or at least until it is too dark to see your toes.

Then, drive down to Pineview Reservoir and take a little swim while the sun melts into the mountain peaks. Camp out under the stars and enjoy the heavenly nights.  When morning comes, jump up, skip the coffee and pedal your mountain bike up Wheeler Canyon back to Snowbasin with running shoes in your pockets.  At the resort, let your bicycle hang out at the Famous Sun Valley Earl Lodge. Take some water and calories and start your practice run of the Trail Run Nationals course (http://xterraplanet.com/xduro/nationals.html). While enjoying a pre-run of your race course, be certain to stop at the top of Sardine Peak and enjoy a view of the gorgeous Ogden Valley.  It is fantastically amazing! I advise you to do this because you will likely forget to take in all the spectacular views on race day.  After finishing the race loop, retrieve your bike and pedal with any energy you have left back down to the reservoir.

Dive into the reservoir once more to revive and refresh. Then throw everything in your vehicle and head down to the famous Roosters Brewery (http://roostersbrewingco.com/) for brunch and delayed java or beer.  I did this weekend getaway several times last year and fell in love with my 18 hour escapes.

At this moment, my only other advice is to sign up for the race. REGISTER HERE. If you are local, you are lucky as travel to race XTERRA Trail Nationals will be a breeze.  If coming from out of state, sign up for your event now, book a plane ticket as well as a room in downtown Ogden at the Marriot.  Keep training and be excited to race the best national championship event ever.

Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is a past winner of several XTERRA Trail Run events, and placed fifth at the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii. She is a talented sports massage therapist, Pilates and yoga instructor and is a certified running form coach. She can be reached via e-mail atrcanyon1@gmail.com  or visit her website atwww.newageathlete.comor follow her onwww.twitter.com/newageathlete.