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Sunday, June 3, 2007 -- Oak Hill, WV / ACE Adventure Center
7th Annual XTERRA ACE Big Canyon Triathlon (iPO Event Id#: 10107)

2007: [Photos] [Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

Coverage: [2001] [2002] [2003] [2004] [2005] [2006]

Emily Chaney Photo by Julie Black
Emily Chaney Photo by Julie Black
Big Changes for the Big Canyon

Article and photos by Julie Black

XTERRA, a unique multi-sport program spanning the US and many countries, is 100 events strong and in 2007 the series welcomes a new tidal sponsor, Paul Mitchell, and a new online store:

ACE adventure center has also evolved. Dubbed the largest outfitter in West Virginia for the last 4-years, the new addition is a longer title for long-time employee Jeff Walls, recently crowned ACE's Special Events Coordinator.

Jeff serves as the race coordinator for the outfitters' races: The XTERRA Big Canyon Triathlon, The ACE New River Bike Fest (a West Virginia Mountain Bike (MTB) Point Series event), and the New River Gorge-ous Trail Runs (part of the Mountain State Trail Run Series). After overseeing course building and development for the past five years and coming from a competitive MTB background, he's proved to be an excellent choice.

Konrad Heller Photo by Julie Black
Konrad Heller Photo by Julie Black
The completely off-road course began with a 1.5-mile swim in the New River. Warm water was a surprise to many, but a light rain managed to cool things off. After exiting the river, racers began a 1,000-foot climb out of the gorge. The 7 plus mile run meandered over single-track trails, forest service roads, and then passed through and around abandoned coalmines and tiny ghost towns that once lined the river. The last leg was an 11-mile MTB trek on various terrain ranging from flat packed trails to rocky downhill passages.

Leading from the start was Konrad Heller. The founder of FredEvents, Heller placed 2nd in the 2005 ACE XTERRA event. Finishing first in the swim seemed to give him an edge. Heller finished with the 2nd fasted bike time of the day, second to only Chris Pickerell, the 2005, 15-19, South East Regional Champion of XTERRA and last year's overall ACE winner. Heller held the lead to finish first overall in 2:25:42.

Sue Wagner Photo by Julie Black
Photo by Julie Black
Returning for another go round after finishing 3rd at ACE last year, Bob Horn of Brick, New Jersey kept up a steady pace to place 2nd overall with a time of 2:27:18. Strong in the run is Geo Toomey of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, who placed 2nd overall this year at the Mount Summit Challenge. Toomey finished 3rd at ACE in 2:30:06.

After carrying her bike only to finish in last place in 2006 after an unfortunate technical problem (aka busted bike), Sue Wagner (formerly Vick) of Fayetteville, WV cranked out fast times on the run and bike legs to finish as the first woman and 13th overall (time of 2:57:23)! Wagner is currently tied with Alicia Markey for overall Women 25-29, US XTERRA Points, Mid-Atlantic region.

ACE XTERRA Photo by Julie Black
ACE XTERRA Photo by Julie Black
Currently ranked 2nd overall in the US XTERRA Women's 30-34 division, Mid-Atlantic region, Denelle Grant of Charlottesville, Virginia completed the course with a time of 3 hours and 13 seconds. She finished as the 2nd woman and 16th overall. Whitney Johnson, ranked 2nd overall in the US XTERRA Women's 35-39 division, Mid-Atlantic region, traveled from King George, VA to claim 3rd in the women's class.

Honorable mention goes to Emily Chaney. Chaney shaved over 44 minutes off of her total time from 200, improving on her bike leg time most impressively. Another finisher (Bib #2), ended the event with a smile on his face and a tree branch sticking out of his bike helmet after trudging through the course with a torn muscle. Numerous high-fives were in order at the finish line.

ACE XTERRA Photo by Julie Black
ACE XTERRA Photo by Julie Black
The event ended with a burrito feast under the tent, protecting racers from the rain. A Gatorade chugging contest provided the entertainment while race organizers gave out a plethora of awards and prizes.

Thanks to the ACE staff and volunteers for all their hard work. iPlayOutside is proud to be a part of the ACE XTERRA event for the past 7 years. Browse past coverage by year at the top of this page to reminisce. Look for our photographer at ACE's next race, The ACE New River Bike Fest - WVMBA #12, Sunday, August 26.