After missing the 2016 event, it was great to get back to this fun event again in 2017. Tsali isn’t near anything, and that is what makes this a great destination race. Taking place on the south side of Smoky Mountain National Park with the swim in Fontana Lake really sets this race apart from others in the southern US. It’s very scenic. Somewhat nearby, you’ll find the Appalachian Trail where it crosses over the Nantahala River at the Nantahala Outdoor Center with rafting and accommodations.
Xterra Tsali is another friendly race put on by Gone Riding. They manage to keep the fee reasonable while providing everything you expect – shirts, food, and great course markings. About 100 racers entered this year.
The main twist at this race is the swim, run, bike order. There is a great 4.5ish mile trail for the run that starts right at the lake, so they choose to run first then bike. This means you need to think about your transition gear carefully as there are two transition areas: one to start the run, and one to start the bike.
Lots of rain leading up to this year’s race had many folks preparing for the worst. Fortunately, it didn’t rain on race day, and while the trails were definitely damp with many muddy areas, they were fine to ride. Water temp was warm and not wetsuit legal.
June 25, 2017
0.5m swim, 4.5m run, 11m bike