Kenai resident Judith Abrahams recently finished as the top physically challenged athlete at the XTerra USA Championships off-road triathlon on Oct. 13. It is the first national title she has won.
The event, which took place at Snowbasin Resort in Ogden, Utah, attracted more than 300 qualified triathletes from 45 states, and was the last of a 70-race season that began in March. The XTerra America Tour requires athletes to qualify for the race by finishing among the top in their division.
“It was pretty amazing,” Abrahams wrote in an email. “I think it was the hardest race I’ve ever done. It was at altitude and had tons of climbing. I think there were only about two miles of descending on the bike course.
“It was a little demoralizing about 12 miles in on the bike, I look across the valley to the ski area (bike to run transition), and we keep riding farther away from it,” she wrote.
Abrahams, 37, was in a cycling accident about five years ago that led to the amputation of her right leg, just below the knee. In Utah, Abrahams finished with a time of 5 hours, 51 minutes and 21 seconds. She began with a swimming segment that produced a split of 39:45, a bike segment of 3:23:47, and ended with a run of 1:46:49.
“It was an absolutely gorgeous day, with all the fall colors and wonderful scenery of the canyon,” Abrahams wrote. “The run (walk) was pretty, all over the ski area. The first 1.5 miles were all up-hill, and it just never felt like we stopped going uphill. But I will admit it was nice not having to worry about being attacked by moose or bear or even Devil’s club on this course.”
Josiah Middaugh of Colorado and Lesley Paterson from Scotland won the professional divisions.
Abrahams plans on competing in future XTerra races, including one this weekend on the island of Maui in Hawaii.