Tips for the Trails – Snowbasin Course Preview – Xterra – 9-14-2012

By Rachel Cieslewicz

published in Xterra 9/14/2012

Snowbasin Resort is ready to welcome us all to the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship!  Steve “Yeti” Andrus from Snowbasin Resort, along with XTERRA’s own “Kahuna” Dave Nicholas, have put together a fabulous course.  My COURSE DESCRIPTION FROM LAST YEAR will give you a fine taste of what is to come.  Here are some course differences and key tips to keep in mind for your 2012 race:

XTERRA loves fast starts. Instead of pushing hard up the mountain from the start, as the COURSE MAP presents, be prepared for a quick cannon shot loop around the upper Snowbasin parking lot to mix things up.  Be grateful for this as the next presentation is the 700 foot climb up the face of the mountain.  The course map also shows amazing single track upon finishing the initial climb. Last year this part was taken out in favor of a bit more climbing and wide open double track in the first half of the race.  Not to worry if this happens again. There will be plenty of single track soon to come. The traverse across the resort towards Sardine Pass in the second half of the race is guaranteed to remain.  Sardine Pass is fabulous. It is a relentless climbing gem with approximately 1,300 feet of elevation gain to the the peak.  Pace yourself as it is runable as long as you don’t go too fast too soon.

Once you finally earn a view of the beautiful Ogden Valley below, one of the most incredibly fun descents your legs will ever experience follows. Trust me, fun is an understatement. As fast as you can go is the key. All of the switchbacks are perfectly burmed for full speed navigation with a completely managable grade.  Truly, think of what it means to fly!  But, there is a caveat.  When you reach the bottom, you are not finished yet. Save enough to get back from the lower end of the resort to the finish line. This involves a false flat back towards the Fabulous Earl Lodge.  Complete that with a short hard climb to finish your legs off. Then finally enjoy a fast, short and thrilling descent to a specatator friendly finish.

Now for my thoughts of the weather and terrain.  While 2011 was very damp and green, 2012 has been a very dry year for Utah.  The tacky packed trails with all rocks and roots easily seen and navigated have changed.  While still beautiful, Snowbasin resort trails are loose and covered in up to 4 inches of powdered dirt. Pay attention to taking quick steps and staying over your center of mass while running, especially if on race day we are still short on moisture.  Keep in mind we are in the mountains in Utah heading into fall!  During race week and on the day, weather patterns could change drastically.

Conditions could still be dry. If weather comes soon, trails will be packed down making way for a furiously fast course.  One other thought is mud.  Rain coming just close enough for race day is the perfect recipe for mud and cold.  This could pave the way for a slower, energy sapping, race. This of course is part of the beauty and grace of racing in the mountains.

Come prepared! I recommend bringing a pair of shoes that have good lugs and stability in case of rainy, muddy conditions.  Bring also a lighter pair of trail running shoes for dry or packed conditions.  For clothing I recommend hats, light gloves, and all other cold weather gear.  But I also recommend a pair of shorts and a summer top in case nature shows a summer-like fall day. Yes, we can have anything from sun and gorgeous blue skies … or snow!

I am looking forward to a fabulous race with all of you.  For anyone who is new to racing presented by the TEAM Unlimited XTERRA crew, you are in for the treat of your life!  For all coming back, you know what this is about.  XTERRA racing is the prime example of what it means to be a tribe.  Family, friends, athletes, the XTERRA race crew, Snowbasin Resort, the state of Utah, and the list goes on.  Everyone plays a role in creating the most incredible National Championship possible. I am excited to see all of you soon!

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.