XTERRA Blackwater Course Preview
From a Novice Perspective
By: Diane Courchene Mitchell
Having recently purchased a mountain bike, I was excited to hear about a XTERRA race in our local area and the fact that our club’s seasoned trail riders attested that it was a perfect course for a XTERRA first timer, like me. Last Saturday, I joined some members of the EC Tri Club at Bear Lake in Blackwater State Forest near Milton, FL for a preview run and ride on the two trails that the XTERRA Blackwater race will be held on August 2, 2015. I certainly was well advised!
I arrived before 7am to see the mist gently rising on Bear Lake while the sun was just peaking above the trees. It was beautiful! That alone was worth the trip, but there was more beauty to come. We started with running the 3.5 mile trail that loops around Bear Lake. The elevation is fairly level throughout the run course. Wooden bridges cross over several wet areas with gravel before and after each bridge. For the most part, the balance of the trails are hard pack sand. As the trail wound around the lake, I was pleasantly surprised with seeing different ecosystems and the many views of the lake. Having run the trails at RCR, I found this trail to be easier to navigate due to being more wide open and less tree roots.
We then met up with Ben Dillon, XTERRA Blackwater Race Director, and some local cyclists. Ben reviewed where the 600 yard swim would enter and exit the lake, where transition would be located and then led us on the 6.5 mile loop of the 2 loop bike course. It was fairly level with gentle inclines with more downhills than up, it seemed! The course is a single track and fire roads with portions wide open. It was very manageable to ride. I look forward to riding it again.
After previewing the XTERRA Blackwater Course, I am definitely in! It IS a perfect course for a beginner and can certainly challenge the experienced XTERRA racer. I would recommend running and biking these trails for the beauty of it, any time and for what is likely to be a FUN and well organized race on August 2, 2015.