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.”