Austinite Excels at Off-Road Triathlons

AUSTIN (KXAN) – It’s a good thing for Melanie Etherton that the nearest ski slopes are hundreds of miles away from Austin. Otherwise, she may not have found off-road triathlons.

Etherton was an age group winner at the USA Triathlon Off-Road National Championship in the spring and will compete in the XTERRA World Championship in November. Like a traditional triathlon, an off-road triathlon uses the swim, bike, run combination. But as the name implies, an off-road tri combines free water swimming with a trail run and mountain biking.

Etherton’s experience mountain biking led her to the sport. But that happened only after she relocated to Austin from Germany.

“I loved snowboarding and I was kind of bummed coming to Texas about not being able to snowboard anymore.”

Thankfully for Etherton, her husband came up with plan B.

“[He] built me a mountain bike and we went mountain biking.”

A typical off-road triathlon consists of a half-mile swim, an 8-12 mile mountain bike and a 3 mile trial run.

Etherton often beats male competitors in regional triathlons and has raced internationally, making her a big name among the growing group of local off-road triathletes.

“It’s a really cool community,” she said. “You go to the trailheads and you meet people. They’re very inclusive.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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