One of my favorite races – Xterra Panther Creek. I was able to squeeze in a quick trip for this race on the last day of family vacation. Snuck out Saturday afternoon from the mountains of NC in my wife’s car, snuggled up in the back of the SUV at a Panther Creek campsite, and raced on Sunday morning before driving back to the mountains and then back home to Nashville – long day on Sunday.
But I do love this race. I think it’s the two loop bike course, or maybe the more open run course with some fields and wide trails. Either way, this is a great race.
As I’ve come to realize lately, Dirty Bird really knocks their races out of the park. After Xterra Knoxville and the amazing crew of volunteers, Panther Creek was more of the same. Great volunteers, great food, great music – just an all around friendly, welcoming vibe. As I try to think of all of the food available after the race, a list seems appropriate. And the food didn’t seem to run out:
- Jet’s Pizza
- tortilla chips in individual cups
- pretzel sticks in individual cups
- watermelon, sliced and quartered
- lots of various granola and chewy bars
- fresh peeled oranges (I mean really, not just oranges in a bowl, but a crew member was peeling them and placing chunks of ready to eat oranges on a serving plate. This is borderline white-tablecloth luxury)
- Hammer Electrolyte Fizz
- Hammer Gel
- I’m sure I’m forgetting additional items…
Beyond the food, another fun part about this race is the spectator-friendly two lap bike course. As a rider, you depart T1, then a mile or so later you cross the road near transition where folks can cheer and watch you. Then upon completion of the first loop, you cross the same road again right near transition as you begin a 2nd lap. This year the spectators were lined up on both sides making a tunnel to ride through with some great cheering. Fun for sure!
Water temp was very comfortable – didn’t catch the measured temp but I’d guess around 80F. Not wetsuit legal.
And while I do love the run course, my legs weren’t really up to it this year. They wanted to cramp about 1.5 miles in. I was able to keep running, but had to walk a couple short bursts on the hills in the second half – ugh.
In the end, I put up a slower bike time and slower run time compared to last year when I remember feeling pretty good – I’m going to blame the vacation week (read food) preceding this race. I can do that, right?
July 28th, 2019
0.5m swim, 13m bike, 4.2m run