Cheryl Moors would like a little less excitement at the XTerra World Championship off-road triathlon this Sunday than there was last year when competitors were under the threat of a tsunami.
In 2012, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit 40 kilometres south of Haida Gwai on the night before the race. Moors said as the competitors were leaving a Saturday night dinner, officials with the triathlon told the competitors to listen for sirens because a tsunami warning was issued and they may need to evacuate low-lying areas.
"We were lucky enough not to get evacuated, but probably 60 per cent of the athletes got evacuated and didn't get back to their rooms until after one in the morning and the race started at nine," said Moors. "I was a little worried about the water and I was hoping they would cancel the swim, but it wasn't bad once you get in. It was getting in and out that was a little more dangerous then normal."
In addition to the big water swells and debris in the water, Moors said she had to cope with a hamstring problem that affected her after she dismounted her bike, which made the run more about survival than scoring a personal best.
It was the second time for Moors competing at the XTerra championship last year. In 2010, she finished fifth in her age group. Prince George physician Mike Smith also braved the choppy waters and tsunami threat in 2012 to finish the race. Both Moors and Smith will return for the 18th annual world championship, which takes place at the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, Maui on Sunday, and they're bringing along four of their Prince George competitors. Along with Moors and Smith, Joanne Morgan, Nicole Callaway Marie Wilmot and Bill Newman will make the trek to Maui.
There are 800 professional and amateur competitors qualified for the championship, which will be a bit different this year.
After 16 years doing the same technical course in south Maui, Moors said the XTerra organizers changed things up to a course, which is more about "fitness and climbing ability."
Moors, a veteran of 30 years of racing, started doing the off-road races because the terrain was less stressful on the hips and knees than road marathons are.
"On trails there's more change in the terrain so you're not using the same muscles and pounding on the pavement, it's softer and has more cushioning and it's more fun," said the 53-year-old. "After I did my first Ironman I never wanted to run another marathon on the road."
Smith did well in 2012 and will have a new face cheering him on this year, son Calvin who was born Sept. 9 to wife Anita in Prince George. Moors said training with Smith is a lot of fun and training and competing with him and Newman pushes her to improve.
As for Newman, Moors credits the 51-year-old for coaxing her into off-road triathlons. Despite taking part in numerous triathlons through the years, Newman learned a simple, but valuable, lesson at the XTerra Canada event in Canmore during the August long weekend.
"I had a lot of fun and a reasonably good race, but I had some medical issues," said Newman. "For whatever reason, I just forgot to drink and eat during the race and I got pretty dehydrated and ended up in the hospital for awhile. Just in emergency for a few hours."
Newman has competed at XTerra off-road triathlons in Canmore and Vernon in his inaugural year of taking part in the series. In the past, Newman said he's taken part in more typical triathlons - with road biking and road running - but he prefers on the off-road events because the mountain biking and trail running provides a more thrilling challenge.
Newman said he just needs to remember on Sunday to get his nutrients and high energy by drinking water and eating gels and chews, other than that he plans "just to enjoy the moment and experience all the race has to offer."
Three disciplines make up the XTerra world championship - a 1.5 kilometre rough-water swim at D.T. Flemings Beach, a 18.89 mile mountain bike trek with more than 3,000 feet of elevation gained and a 5.9 mile run with lots of climbing on the dirt trails through Oleander forests and into the ironwood evergreens to a mountain lake at 650 feet.
There are more than 100 off-road triathlon XTerra races held each year in 16 countries and in more than 30 states in the United States. Professional athletes compete for the $105,000 in prize money, while amateurs battle for the XTerra world champion title.