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Sunday, June 2, 2002 -- Oak Hill, WV
XTERRA ACE Big Canyon Off Road Triathlon (iPO Event Id#: 4774)
Story and photos by George Gannan

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6]
[2001 Event Coverage]

Race Pic
You can wipe the mud off your face, but not the smile
ACE was at it again ith this year's version of the XTERRA Big Canyon Off Road Triathlon, a Nissan Xterra Points Series Race and a USA Triathlon sanctioned event. Nothing like a refreshing 1.5 mile river swim, a 7-mile run with a 1000 foot elevation gain, and a 13-mile mountain bike ride for a Sunday of fun, mud, mud, mud and ... mud. With a little bit of more mud thrown in for good measure.

"(The race) was wet and sloppy," said first place finisher, Parkersburg native Randy Gibbs. "It was West Virginia style."

What wasn't his style was a 1.5 mile-long dip in the New River. A self-described "horrible swimmer," Gibbs managed to maintain himself in the swift current, but left the water a few spots back of the leaders.

Race Start
It all starts with the downriver swim
Next for the competitors was a brutal 7-mile run. As if the length wasn't grueling enough, they had to ascend 1000 feet to get to their bikes. Gibbs, although gaining ground, was still running behind Geo Toomey.

However, once he mounted his bike, the race belonged to him. Two miles in to the 13-mile course, which, seemingly, hit every hill, creek and mud hole in Minden, Gibbs took the lead and never looked back. He even tamed Rigor Mortis, a new downhill section designed for this year's race.

Gibbs, who is training for the XTERRA championship in Richmond, said the course, despite the obstacles, was "beautiful."

An opinion shared by women's champ Patricia Williams. "It was beautiful," charged the Tennessee native.

Race Pic
A little downhill in an uphill run
Williams was in a constant back and forth with several other competitors throughtout the race. A few miles into the bike leg, she took the lead and never relinquished it. She conceded that a "tactical error" on the part of a few other racers did help her chances.

She even survived a nasty spill on Rigor Mortis to take the top spot. "That hurt," she added, showing off a nasty scrap on her leg.

Although the number of racers, 55, may have been a drop from last year, the race quality went up. A common comment coming following the event was how great the course was. But, as the racing world knows, a great bunch of athletes always makes for a great course. And that was undeniably the case this year.

An iPlayOutside shout goes to the entire ACE staff for putting on such a professional and well-organized race.