WSU student to compete in XTERRA

(Source: Shayli Lones) Lesley Paterson poses with athletes and their families at the XTERRA Q-and-A press conference.

On Sept. 22-23, approximately 1,500 of the nation’s amateur and professional trail runners and triathletes will descend upon Snowbasin Resort for the two-day XTERRA competition.

Athletes will compete for a chance to qualify for the XTERRA World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, and a share of the $80,000 prize purse. Events include the XTERRA USA Championship triathlon, a sprint triathlon, the Trail Running National Championship, and a 5K and 10K trail run.

Nicole Tonks, a Weber State University interior design student, will compete in the Trail Running National Championship on Sunday morning.

“This will be the second half-marathon I have done, but the first trail half-marathon,” Tonks said. “I’ve been training almost a year for this, and I feel like I have an advantage over the nationwide competitors. Utah is my home turf, and I’m used to the elevation.”

The XTERRA Triathlon Championship is made up of more than 50 qualifying events. However, only two triathlon events are being held in Ogden — the long-distance race, which determines the overall USA champion and consists of a 1,500-meter swim, and a 28K mountain bike course and 10K trail run. The triathlon can be done as an individual or as a team. The short-distance race is made up of a 750-meter swim, 19K mountain bike course and a 5K trail run, and can be run by anyone up for the challenge.

Brent Jacobsen of Bountiful, Utah, will compete in the short-distance race on Saturday for the second time.

“XTERRA triathlons are their own breed of animal,” Jacobsen said. “Normally, triathlons are done with road bikes, and you are running on pavement. But at XTERRA, they challenge you even more by running up trails and mountain biking. The mountain biking is my biggest challenge. You come straight out of the water and have to jump on your bike still wet and pedal up a mountain it’s such a rush.”

Lesley Paterson, a Scottish competitor and XTERRA World Champion for two years running, met with the Utah triathlon community earlier in the week to give tips and answer questions about training.

“A triathlon is like a dance,” she said. “The transitions can sneak up on you. Imagine it as a dance and memorize what you need to do. You need to know your transitions perfectly.”

She also gave tips for those who will compete for the first time and are nervous about being passed on the strenuous mountain-biking trails.

“Stronger riders have a good sense of balance. Just hold your line. People will let you know when you are being passed, and they will go around you.”

Paterson stressed that athletes need to stay motivated.

“A triathlon makes you vulnerable. When you are in a lot of pain you feel vulnerable, and it’s easy to give up.”

Paterson said she stays motivated by singing her favorite songs and writing inspirational lyrics and quotes on her arms.

“Wear a ring or a bracelet, something small that you can look at when you start feeling tired,” she said. “Let that little thing inspire you to keep going.”

Overall, Paterson told competitors to stay positive and that no one can win every race.

“I’m OK when things don’t work out,” she said. “I have bad races, but that’s how we learn and get better.”

Events start at 9 a.m. on Saturday and run through Sunday. More information about XTERRA and where it will head next is available at