Share |

Sunday, June 4, 2006 -- Oak Hill, WV
ACE Big Canyon Off-Road Triathlon (iPO Event Id#: 7231)

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]
[Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9] [Set 10] [More Pics]

Past Event Coverage: [2001] [2002] [2003] [2004] [2005]

Story and photos by Julie Black

Photo by Julie Black
Joking at pre-race time
Half-a-century ago, West Virginia's New River Coalfield fueled the Industrial Revolution. Drive through Minden and you'll see homes from the coal-mining era. Vertical plank cabins built in 1899 line the road to the 1,400-acre, ACE Adventure Center. Located in the heart of coal mining country in Fayette County, the town is now home to a new revolution . . . tourism.

ACE Adventure Center is a premier adventure resort. It seems fitting that such a place would host an Xterra Planet event, being that it's in a world all it's own. WV is home to some of the most ambitious outdoor athletes, and ACE is the place to test their abilities.

Photo by Julie Black
Swim leg in the New River
In 1996 mountain bikers and triathletes met in a duel of the fittest on the island of Maui, Hawaii. What transpired was a new multisport offering a common spirit and attitude among outdoor enthusiasts . . . the Xterra Series was born.

The 10-year old National Nissan Xterra Points Series now consists of more than 50 races held throughout the United States. Hard-core competitors compete in three events, typically a 1.5-mile river or ocean swim, a 30K mountain bike, and an 11K trail run.

Racers earn points at each event toward an Xterra Regional Championship title. There are presently eight determined regions; North East, Mid-Atlantic, South East, North Central, South Central, Mountain, North West, and South West.

Photo by Julie Black
Finishing, busted tire and all
By wining a regional title, the athlete is awarded an invitation to compete for a national title at the Nissan Xterra USA Championship in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The top finishers in regional and national championships are invited to compete at the Nissan Xterra World Championship in Maui, Hawaii.

Vying for a National title is 2005, 15-19, South East Regional Champion, Christopher Pickerell of Harrisonburg, Virginia. The 19-year old beat a field of more than 50 racers to claim first overall in 2:27:08, dominating the swim in the 63 degree New River. Brandon Jessop of Madeira, Ohio began his athletic career in Cross Country running. He topped the 2006 Otter Creek Scramble 10K in April and finished 2nd at ACE not surprisingly strongest in the run with a time of 59:38, and overall time of 2:33:26. Bob Horn of Brick, New Jersey took home 3rd in 2:37:15.

Photo by Julie Black
I'm ready for the next one!
First place woman in the 2006 Great Greenbrier River Race, Krista Birkelo, stayed consistant to the end at ACE. She used her mountain biking talents to gain the overall win in 3:05:56, passing Emily Chaney on the muddy bike trail. Chaney pulled first in the run in 1:12:58, looking great on the flats, but then cramped during the bike leg while trying to deal with caked mud on her tires. She fought through the pain to finish. Whitney Johnson of Virginia, was fastest in the swim leg. She held steady for 2nd overall in the women's class. Jean Miller of Middleborough, Massachusetts finished 3rd in 3:26:04.

Everyone seemed to know Charles Williamson, who at the ripe age of 68, continues to compete in mountain triathlons.

"I'm just out here to have some fun." joked Charles, "That's all."