MagazineAugust 2012Uphill Battles

Uphill Battles

Finish flex: Kevin Baldwin from Reston, Va., celebrates at last year’s Luray Triathlon.

Multisport in the Mountains

Whether you’re into off-road adventure races or pavement-pounding triathlons, the Blue Ridge has multisport races with plenty of incline to steepen your challenge.

Luray Triathlon: Luray, Va. • August 18

Seize the opportunity to toe the line with six-time Ironman World Champion Dave Scott, who is set to take on this scenic course in the Shenandoah Valley. The two-day event features an international distance triathlon (1500m swim/41K bike/10K run) on Saturday, followed by a shorter sprint on Sunday. Both courses feature an open-water loop swim in Lake Arrowhead, followed by some rigorous pavement pedaling and pounding through winding country roads framed by a breathtaking Blue Ridge backdrop.

Tri Creek Falls Triathlon: Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tenn. • August 19 

A backwoods triathlon meets a low-key bluegrass festival at this Olympic distance race within the wooded confines of Fall Creek Falls State Park. Centrally located in the green hills between Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Nashville, the race starts with a 1,500-meter open water swim in a peaceful lake, followed by a 40K bike ride on rolling roads, before finishing with a shaded 10K trail run. After conquering the course, every racer gets to enjoy some mighty fine picking and singing.

North Carolina Adventure Race 26.2-Hour Epic: Morganton, N.C. • August 25

This gut-check of an endurance event covers some of North Carolina’s most killer terrain. Last year only 40 percent of the racers who started actually finished, but those who did said the course offers an unparalleled wilderness adventure. Starting in Morganton, the race covers a burly stretch of the Pisgah National Forest, as racers bike, run, and rappel through the Brown Mountains, Table Rock, and the rugged canyon country of Linville Gorge. Add some paddling on Lake James and plenty of backcountry orienteering and you have all bases covered for an epic mountain challenge. 

Carter Caves 8-Hour Adventure Race: Carter Caves State Resort Park, Ky. • September 15 

Part of a series that takes adventure racers to courses at different Kentucky state parks, the Carter Caves 8-Hour is your chance to see how low you can go. A long day of racing covers the best of Carter Caves State Resort Park, including trekking and mountain biking on 26 miles of trails, paddling the 45-acre Smokey Lake, and going subterranean as you explore an area that holds the highest concentration of caves in Kentucky. Soloists and teams of up to four can take on the intermediate-level race.

Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Racing Championship: Oak Hill, W.Va. • September 27

The largest adventure racing series in North America culminates with a backcountry bang. Solo racers and teams of up to four will cover 100 miles over approximately 30 straight hours, traversing the rugged terrain of West Virginia’s New River Gorge. Venerable sport pioneers Odyssey Adventure Racing are designing the championship course that is scheduled to include mountain biking, trekking, riverboarding, and guided whitewater rafting through class III-IV rapids.   

Fountainhead Off-Road Duathlon: Fairfax Station, Va. • September 30 

Go solo or grab a partner and break this one up into a relay, as you tackle some tough off-road terrain on the perimeter of Metro D.C. Start with a 2.5-mile run on the trails of Fountainhead Regional Park, then transition to a twisty 11-mile singletrack ride that’s rolling but reasonable. When you top it off with another 3.5-mile run you won’t feel anywhere near the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital, as you stroll along the banks of the Occoquan Reservoir.

Dig the Du Off Road Duathlon: Hendersonville, N.C. • October 14 

Bring your running shoes and your big wheeler and take the opportunity to race on trails normally closed to the public. The Dig the Du Off Road Duathlon takes place at the private Sky Valley Farm on a course that’s accessible to multi-sport newbies yet tough enough to make seasoned vets sweat. The race starts with a 2.5-mile run on twisty singletrack, leading into a 12-mile bike ride on unmaintained forest service roads with both steady uphill and downhill grades. Finish with another 2.5-mile trail jaunt, and you’ll be home free to grab a huge breath of fall air.

3 Races in 3 Days

Think you can handle three races in three straight days? Find out at the Lake Lure Olympiad Sports Festival, which takes place throughout North Carolina’s steep Hickory Nut Gorge August 24-26. The three-race challenge starts on Friday with the 10K Dam Run, a hearty 6.2-mile slog that climbs up the winding mountain roads near Lake Lure. The next day’s Lake Lure Triathlon features a 750-meter swim in its namesake, followed by a 20K quad-busting bike ride, and a 5K run with some steady ascents. Finish on Sunday with the Race to the Rock, which features an optional 25-mile bike ride or 5K run. Both tackle the grueling seven-percent grade of iconic Chimney Rock.

You may be able to use this gear at your next triathlon, adventure race, or campout!

Places to Go, Things to See:

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