XTERRA World Cup returns to Oak Mountain State Park this weekend

Published 11:59 am Thursday, May 18, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

The best XTERRA athletes from around the world are ready to put on a show at Oak Mountain State Park this weekend, and there are fun events even for people who’ve never ridden a bike.

XTERRA is one of the world’s biggest off-road triathlon and mountain bike competitions, and the Oak Mountain event is the second stop on the world tour and just one of two World Cup events in the US.

This is the 17th time the tour has come to Oak Mountain State Park, and the reason they keep coming back to Shelby County is because XTERRA hails the trails as some of the best in the world for the competition.

“It’s the gold standard for off-road racing, something that rewards the full skill set on the mountain bike, which is what XTERRA is all about,” XTERRA competitor Sam Osborne said.

But beyond the competition, there’s fun for all ages and skill levels.

The Ales and Trails Night on Thursday, May 18 will last from 4-8 p.m. and have free beer, a taco truck, live music and all kinds of games and activities, including a beginner’s ride of part f the course and bike skills clinics.

There will also be a free bike race on Saturday and fun run on Sunday for kids, as well as lots of games, food and live music all weekend during the competition.

For athletes who want to try out an outdoor triathlon but don’t think they can brave the full distance, the XTERRA Super Sprint on Friday, May 19 at 5 p.m. is a great way to get started. The race is $50 to enter and consists of a 200m swim, a 7km mountain bike portion and a 2km trail run.

If participants don’t feel confident about their skill level in any portion, they can opt for an inflatable tethered safety buoy while swimming, walk the trail run portion, and everyone will ride the smoother family trail for mountain biking.

On Saturday at 8 a.m., running alongside the professional XTERRA World Cup off-road triathlon event featuring the best athletes from around the world will be the amateur Oak Mountain Triathlon. The full triathlon features a 1.5km swim, 34km bike ride, and 10km trail run, but the shorter Sprint distance is only half the distance for each section.

Anyone can enter the amateur portion and form relay teams of two or three to enter either distance. Registration for the full distance is $130 for individuals and $160 for teams, or $105 for individuals and $130 for teams in the Sprint race.

On Sunday, there will be full and half marathon trail runs as part of the XTERRA Americas Trail Run Championships, as well as 10K and 5K races.

Oak Mountain is a unique course because it can run a full marathon in a single loop, which means no parts of the course repeat. It is one of the few courses in the world to do so.

The marathons can also be run as a relay race. The marathon starts at 7:15 a.m., and is $90 per person to enter the full distance and $60 for the half marathon. The 10K costs $50 and the 5K costs $40.

Those interested in registering for a race can do so on XTERRA’s website.

For those who just want to watch the action, admission to watch any of the off-road triathlon and trail races is free.

The pros will take the course in the off-road triathlon on Saturday morning, trail run on Sunday morning, and the fast-paced mountain bike Short Track event on Sunday afternoon at 3 and 4 p.m.