Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tri Life- Consider an Off Road Triathlon

I met Alex Modestou on Twitter and have been following his blog for a few months.  He is an off-road triathlete and recently was 1st overall amateur at the 2013 XTERRA EAST Championships. With the majority of us road triathletes, I asked him to share his thoughts and insights on Off Road Triathlons.  I hope you found the info as interesting as I did. 

Alex's Article
One of the only people in T2... told you he was a rock star
When I first started racing triathlon in 2005, I began like almost everyone else: on the road. It was awesome. I loved the challenge of putting all three sports together. I loved the opportunity provided by competition to push my body to its limit. The structure of a race schedule held me accountable to my athletic goals and kept me on track to keep improving.

In my bike and run training, I turned more and more to trails to add some variety and to get out in nature as an alternative to pounding the pavement day after day. As I built my off-road skills, I wondered if there was such a thing as trail racing. I did a quick search and found Xterra, a worldwide series of off-road triathlons with dozens of races around the US. Once I raced my first Xterra, I was hooked on off-road triathlon for good. As of this writing I’ve done 11 different off-road triathlons, and I’m set to try two more new races later this season.

The Xterra tribe is a welcoming community of adventurous individuals that bring out the best in each other. When I was new to the game, seasoned racers were eager to give me the run down and answer all my questions. They even gave me energy bars and gels to use! (I was totally clueless about race nutrition at the time.) I’ve seen empathetic racers stop to help others with mechanical issues such as flats, broken chains, etc. Once when I got stuck in deep sand, a racer who was walking his bike gave me a running push start like the exuberant Tour de France fans.

If you’re still with me, here are a few questions to ask if you’re considering joining me off-road:

Do you like nature?

The course and mother nature are your greatest competitors. Each race offers its own blend of challenges unique to the terrain and weather, and the opportunity to completely lose yourself in the moment and in the outdoors.
West Virginia

Do you ever get bored of crouching in your aero bars?
Mountain biking and trail running add an extra layer of challenge and intrigue to the sport. You don’t need a power meter, mantra, or rock music to keep you excited on a ride or a run; your mind is absorbed with negotiating the rocks, roots, and undulating terrain immediately in front of you. As with road triathlons, success comes in part from incremental improvements in speed, power, and endurance. However, there is an additional sense of accomplishment from executing a technically sound race, where you truly flowed with the trail. The ability to continually improve your mountain biking and trail running technique on top of raw fitness gains keeps competitors coming back year after year.

Have you ever felt lost in the crowd?
Xterra offers a smaller, more personalized race experience - with a national and world championship to aspire towards, and a points series that determines regional champions. There are several races in each region of the country, giving racers the opportunity to commune with their fellow tribesmen on a regular basis.

I’ve yet to meet a roadie who crossed over to Xterra and didn’t have a total blast. I hope to see more of you at the next race.

Alex Modestou is an off-road triathlete based in Washington, DC. He enjoys swimming, biking, running, and eating at Chipotle. When he’s not using analytics to fight insurance fraud, he is training, racing, or writing about triathlon on his blog at  


For those interested: 
CLICK HERE for the XTERRA schedule
CLICK HERE for another list from TriFind

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Alex- it's a good reminder even for non-triathletes to step out and appreciate the unswept outdoors. Congrats again.