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1997 Mt. Taylor Quadrathlon

Grants, New Mexico
Race start: 9:00 AM
Forecast: sunny skies with a high of 50 degrees.
670 participants from fourteen different states

First discipline, 13-mile bike ride from 6,400 feet to 8,300 feet -- gain of 1900 feet:

I pre-rode part of the bike course the day before to get a "feel" for the race. The mass start allowed drafting and the first four miles were relatively flat as around four hundred people formed a long snake. The first climb came at mile four and my triathlete friend Bobo Anderson and I decided to make a break. I broke first and looked back about thirty seconds later. I see Bobo waving me on so I made a little surge.

There were two racers that I for sure knew would be tough in this race. They were four-time defending champion, Dan Nielson, from Avon, Colorado and 1997 World Duathlete Champion in the 20-24 age group, Andy Bruckner, from Boulder. I wanted to get a lead because I knew they excelled in the Winter sports that came later. On top of that, I didn't know who else might be lurking in the race. After all, it was the first time both Andy and I have competed in this race.

I maintained a lead of about twenty seconds with a pack of eight riders behind me. At mile 10, the hill got steeper and I was able to have a 1:20 lead over the spread out pack. I didn't totally exert myself during the bike, as I knew the race climbed for 4,700 feet. That's almost a mile straight up.

Five mile run from 8,300 feet to 10,100 feet -- gain of 1800 feet:

The first two miles only had a slight upgrade. I was waiting for Andy to catch me because I knew his running background was excellent. He told me after the race he was second out of the transition. Thankfully, he never caught me. After mile two, things started to get ugly. The road became snow packed and icy. The day before, I decided to put some screws (studs) in my shoes to keep from slipping. The nine screws around the outer soles helped in the slippage area, but these small buggers were vibrating through my orthotics and causing my feet to go numb. In addition, we had to make up elevation from the first two miles being relatively flat. Up, up, up and away.

I came into the run/x-country ski transition running scared. There were about two hundred spectators who ran or snowshoed up themselves just to see this transition. The volunteers were great. As I was getting out of my running shoes, they were lacing up my ski shoes.

X-Country ski two miles from 10,100 to 10,700 - gain of 600 feet:

As I left the transition, I heard cheering coming from the crowd so someone else or others were finishing the run. I knew I had at least a three-minute lead. For this segment, skins were required on the bottom of the skis because there was so much climbing. Skins are attached to the bottom of the skis to prevent the skis from sliding backwards while climbing. Right from the beginning, there was climbing. I didn't think it would get steeper until I came out of the trees and there in front of me was "Heartbreak Hill." This was near the end of the climb and I was getting exhausted. My head was pounding a little from the altitude and effort. It was awesome knowing that all of these participants would climb this hill and finish the race.

I timed the hill and it took 4:18, I looked back and saw someone beginning the climb as I finished it. Just around the corner I heard cheering from about 100 spectators who snowshoed up to this next transition.

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