2012 ITU Cross World Championships — what an experience. First off, Team Unlimited/XTERRA formed up with the International Triathlon Union and provided such an exciting atmosphere. It was top notch. From the course being ready to ride and run three days prior to the event, to the awards banquet celebrating everybody's accomplishment, it was great.
The coordinators and volunteers arrived to the site at 5:30 a.m. and transition was opened up at 6 a.m. XTERRA/ITU had transition set up by numerical order. Racers 130-13 this rack, racers 135-139 this rack. An added bonus was that everybody was grouped together on racks according to their age group, similar to what they do at Ironman races.
The morning started off with the ITU Under-23s firing off. They were followed by the Citizen's Race and then para-athletes. It was nice to see the start of these other races as typically we are the first to take off. You get the opportunity to watch the washing machine start from a different perspective. The amateur men went off at 8:05 a.m., followed by the women 30 minutes later.
Throughout the race, everything was well marked and encouragement was found throughout the park. Within a half-mile radius of the transition, the crowds were out in full force cheering you on along the course. The music was blaring and the MCs were yelling across the PA system. The energy was high, and the intense race energy was only challenged by the wicked heat and humidity of central Alabama.
When you finished, you were greeted by a volunteer with scissors to cut your timing belt, a cold bottle of water, and recovery shake (which I wish had been a little colder given the heat). The Athlete Village was full of people, including vendors. There were local running and bike shops, as well as national brands like Avia, Specialized and Luna Pro Women team. Also present was the XTERRA Store, nutritional companies and food vendors — you could even get a popsicle and a soda on the beach, which was very nice. I want to personally give a huge shout out to Chris Tyree of Cahaba Cycles in Homewood, Alabama, for setting me up with a replacement brake after I destroyed mine when we were pre-riding. He was an awesome wrenchman.
I wish I could tell you more about the pro races and the awards banquet but unfortunately, Craig Roberson and I had prior obligations that withheld us from the final experience.
This race experience allowed me to make a lot of new friends from all over the world and helped solidify some friendships I've recently made at other races. Ultimately, representing Team USA and making fun of the Canadian I pre-rode with were the big highlights.
In the end, what I was most satisfied with at this race was the camaraderie between all athletes, regardless of nationality. This is extremely evident in all XTERRA races, but at this level, it is nice to know that the "we're all a crazy family" mantra is global.