Monday, July 16, 2007

NETT’s off-road multisport contingent doesn’t quite “dominate”

The Russian Rocket, Dmitry Drozdov and the goddess of LSD (that’s “long, slow distance” for those who don’t know and not a drug reference, although the drugs might cause less bodily harm and almost certainly be more enjoyable), Jennifer Shultis, headed to Poland, Maine this past weekend for some off-road run at the Xterra Agazzis Village on Sunday, July 15th. The impetuous for the trip was Jen’s friend, Anne Murrock, whose knees no longer allow her to do the run in road triathlons, so she bought a mountain bike in hopes that she could handle the trail run at the end. After a 6-week “crash course” in mountain biking, this weekend would be the true test of that theory.

After a bike course test-ride on Saturday night and a pre-race meal at the local Gritty’s brewery (did you know it’s only $1 more to upgrade to a 25 ounce beer from a pint??) all three retired to the luxurious Super 8 where they warmed up their fancy footwork by convincing the hotel clerk that there were only two and not three in the room—who wants to pay an extra $10 if they don’t have to?

Upon arriving at the race site on Sunday morning, Jennifer was almost immediately faced with what would be her first and most significant challenge for the day—to beat an adventure racing rival who is eons faster than her and who now showed up having given birth 6 weeks ago. This woman could kick her butt soundly any day of the week normally, but to lose to a woman who might have to stop in transition to pump breast milk would be a new all time low on the shame meter. In an effort to minimize all stress so she could focus on this one challenge, Jen decided to opt out from wearing a wetsuit as the effort involved in squeezing into it could potentially leave her too wiped for the swim.

Dmitry, who rarely swims, decided he could figure it out and he did before the second buoy. Jennifer, a professed swim-hater, did “fine for me,” and it was Anne who beat them both out of the water. However, after Anne’s wetsuit wrestling match, all three ended up running their bikes out onto the bike course together. The first part of the mt bike loop was pretty technical, so the three decided the night before that they would simply run their bikes the first ¼ mile of trail along the lake where it was nearly unrideable, instead of wasting time getting on and off their bikes. After being initially cautious, Anne found herself able to ride much more on the second loop (it was a two-loop bike course). Dmitry did some strategizing on hills to run his bike up rather than burning out his legs riding and Jennifer heard the angels sing when she passed her rival on the first loop of the mountain bike.

The trail run, advertised as being 4 miles ended up as a flat 3 miler, but its highly technical footing lent itself nicely to Jennifer and Dmitry’s skill set. Its springiness was just what Anne needed and she crossed the finish-line beaming 2 hours and 34 minutes after the gun went off to take second in her age group. Dmitry was 3rd in his very tough age group, after putting in the fastest run of the day (surprise, surprise…) in 1:46. Jennifer finished second (of two!) in her age group in 2:03. After a disappointing stop on the way home at Poland Spring (what do you mean you don’t have free water?!!?), all three hit stop number two on the micro-beer pub tour, Sebasco Bay Brewing Co in Portland, Maine, and agreed over raised glasses to make their next destination the August 12th Xterra Stoaked Triathlon ( Hmm… now where is that Long Trail Ale brewery? Road trip anyone?

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