Although she’s accustomed to the rigors of Xterra races, Sara Tarkington said after the Mount Taylor Quadrathlon:
“I’ve never been so sore.”
This was the first year the Boulder resident competed in the four-sport race in northern New Mexico. To complete the Quad, participants start at 6,500 feet on road bikes and then run, ski and snowshoe to the 11,301-foot summit of Mount Taylor. Then they reverse course back down the hill.
“It really is an adventure up the mountain and an adventure down,” Tarkington said.
Here’s what Tarkington had to say about the race — which she won the women’s solo division of in in 4 hours, 34 minutes and 52 seconds:
Q: How does the Quadrathlon rank among other races you’ve done as a sufferfest?
A: It was time-wise the longest race I’ve done in my life. Xterras are usually three hours, three-fifteen at the most.
It is February, I’m not in peak shape. Because it’s winter, I’m not riding outside that much, or even running outside. The time of the year and the nature of the events made it a new challenge.
Q: You weren’t in peak shape, but you still won.
A: I’m in decent shape, but it’s still the beginning of the year.
Q: I hear it was windy. Are you used to that from training here?
A: It was very windy.
In Boulder, it’s to be expected at this time of the year. I was used to the wind, however it doesn’t make it any easier being used to it. Luckily it was beautiful, sunshiny skies.
Q: Is there a mental factor with the wind?
A: Definitely on the bike down, it was a crosswind… it’s hard to fight against that, knowing you’re almost done.
Q: Why did you do the Quad?
A: I’ve known about this race for many years and always thought, oh, that would be something different to try. And two of my friends, Amber and Eric Rydholm (of Boulder)… encouraged me to try and were mentors for me. So with their encouragement, I went ahead and tried it.
And they’re four activities that I enjoy and do over the winter — seemed like a good fit.
Q: Amber came in second, just seven minutes behind you. Were you racing together most of the time?
A: She was a few seconds ahead of me on the bike up, but I overtook her on the run. We were close until the snowshoe, and I got some time on her during the snowshoe.
Q: What did you do to train for it?
A: I didn’t do anything differently, per se, except I’ve been doing a lot of snowshoe races. I’ve been doing the Nighthawks snowshoe races up at Eldora.
Q: What was the toughest moment in the race for you?
A: The most difficult was the absolutely the ski down. I opted to use skate skis because it’s the only kind of skis I own I could use for this race. They were great on the way up, but it was scary on the way down, it was sloppy…
I fell a few times, I stopped a few times to let my legs recover from all of the snowplowing action.
Q: Is the cross-country ski portion of this race pretty steep?
A: Half of the people use a skate ski, the other half use alpine touring, mountaineering, and that would have been a very wise choice for the descent this time.
Q: Once you got back to the run, did you motor?
A: I did. It’s mostly downhill, but there are a few little uphills you don’t notice on the way up. But I’ve never been so happy to see my bike and get on it after the run.
Once you were tired of one activity, you were done, so it was really fun in that manner.
Q: How did you celebrate after the win?
A: We didn’t really celebrate, we were all so tired. We went to dinner and spent all of the next day driving back.
It was my 30th birthday Friday… We went out for sushi and ice cream last night (Sunday).
It sort of coincided, and I thought, that’s not really how I want to celebrate my 30th birthday, but I’m so glad I did it.