XTERRA Beaver Creek Mountain Championship

Over the weekend I was the photographer for the XTERRA Mountain Championship presented by Paul Mitchell and AVIA held in Avon, Colorado and put on by TEAM Unlimited. The grueling triathlon event challenged pro and amateur athletes with a swim in Nottingham Lake located in the valley below Beaver Creek Resort.  Next the competitors peddled their mountain bikes up into the forested trails of Beaver Creek Mountain and then took on the third leg of the race with a trail run. Two separate groups of participants competed in sprint and extended courses on Saturday, July 14. The XTERRA races have been a summer staple to Beaver Creek and before that Keystone Ski Resort. Yet despite their long history I’d never checked them out so this was my first time witnessing the truly incredible strength and unrelenting willpower the triathletes who compete in XTERRA posses.

Josiah Middaugh at the XTERRA 2012 Mountain Championship in Beaver Creek, CO

Among some of the pro athletes who were at this summer’s leg of XTERRA were XTERRA USA National Champion/Vail local Josiah Middaugh and 38 year old 4 time XTERRA World Champion Conrad Stoltz. Stoltz, from Stellenbosch, South Africa, took home the glory along with Danelle Kabush, 36, of Calgary, Canada at the XTERRA Mountain Championship at Beaver Creek on Saturday. Stoltz’s victory marked his unprecedented 47th XTERRA all-time championship win. It was incredible watching these pros make it almost look easy, especially on the brutal last leg of the trail running portion of the race.

Conrad Stoltz Trail Running at the XTERRA 2012 Mountain Championship in Beaver Creek, CO

But equally impressive was photographing the amazing amateur competitors who came to Avon, Colorado from all over the United States and Canada to test their endurance. My Nikon and I were deep in Beaver Creek’s towering aspens, capturing the grit and glory of the participants. There in the woods, hummingbirds and mountain bluebirds singing all around me, I thought about the power the human spirit has in overcoming physical challenges and what was helping to motivate the men and women I was fortunate enough to photograph. It was a great reminder that all of us walk among truly inspirational people every day.

Mountain Biking at the XTERRA 2012 Mountain Championship in Beaver Creek, CO

Here’s a recap of the race with more details about XTERRA to check out.