Reno triathletes compete for USA triathlon championship |

Reno triathletes compete for USA triathlon championship

The best off-road triathletes in the Nissan Xterra USA Championship Series will compete Sunday in Incline Village for a slice of $80,000 and the opportunity to earn a U.S. triathlon title.

The Xterra USA Championship is the final event in a series of 31 off-road triathlons that includes roughly 10,000 athletes from all 50 states and 20 countries. The 2002 series began in April and includes both professionals and amateurs.

In addition to the championship event, the Xterra Nevada, an amateur off-road triathlon, will occur on Saturday and is open to any intrepid athlete brave enough to enter.

The off-road triathletes in the Xterra USA Championship earned the right to compete Sunday by winning their age group in one of eight nationwide regions. Winners were determined from point totals accumulated from their best three triathlons.

The championship action begins at 9 a.m. with a 1.5-kilometer swim in Lake Tahoe at the beach in front of the Hyatt Resort in Incline Village.

The second leg incorporates a 32-kilometer, single loop, mountain bike ride along the famous Flume Trail and onto the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Halfway into this 6.6-mile section is Marlett Lake overlook, and the course’s highest point at 8,600 feet above sea level.

From the top, a 2,500-foot descent takes participants to the final leg, a 10-kilometer forest trail run consisting of two 5-kilometer laps.

The Xterra Nevada, which is open to any willing participant, is essentially the same as championship course, only shorter.

Some athletes to watch in the USA Championship are Reno’s Kent Robison, 54, who won the inaugural 2001 Nissan Xterra USA Championship for the mens’ 50-54 age group, and his training partner Tom Lyons, 40, also from Reno.

Robison finished the 2001 course in 3 hours, 34 minutes and 21 seconds.

He defended the South West division title for his age group again this year and will also compete in the 2002 Xterra World Championship and the Ironman Triathlon World Championship. Both take place in Hawaii this October .

Lyons was runner-up in the 35-39 age division in the 2001 Xterra USA Championship.

He claims to be an amateur, but routinely knocks off the pros when he competes — and the Xterra Championship is one of his favorite events.

“Mostly the reason I do it is because I love this event. It’s really grueling … In the Xterra there’s that element of danger riding your bike. Very rarely do I finish without a bruise,” he said. “When you finish, you know you did something.”

Championship series athletes will be fighting to win their piece of the $30,000 pro purse. In addition, pros will also be vying for the $50,000 Nissan Xterra Point Series purse, which is awarded to the man and woman with the most points accrued from their three best qualification races, and from their finish in the Xterra USA Championship.

If you don’t want to join in the competition Saturday, an exposition will be held starting Friday afternoon. The “expo” includes food tents and exhibits and demonstrations from off-road equipment manufacturers and triathlon experts.

Free clinics such as “Mountain Bike Like a Champion” with Ned Overend or “Swimming with Kerry Classen and Grant Holicky” or “Transition, Nutrition, Training, and Course Tips” will also be offered.

In addition, 5K and 10K Saucony XTERRA Trail Runs will be held on Saturday as well.

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