U.S. Nordic Combined Team veteran Billy Demong took a break from ski-specific training last Saturday to compete in the Hurt in the Dirt duathlon, a trail run and bike race in Ogden, Utah. Racing against individuals and relay teams alike, Demong won the event outright in 2:01:12, over a minute ahead of a two-man team from Sandy, Utah, and over four minutes ahead of individual runner-up Weston Woodward.
“I’ve never done a race like this,” Demong said. “Some friends were doing it and I’ve been wanting to race, but haven’t found any other good running or bike races that appeal to me right now.”
Demong is no stranger to offseason challenges. This time last August, the Olympic gold medalist had recently completed the Leadville Trail 100 mountain-bike race in Colorado.
“I’m not really in shape for a 100-mile bike race right now, so this was the perfect thing to do to get some cross-training in,” Demong said.
The run-bike-run-bike traversed a grand total of 8 miles on foot and 20 miles on the bike. By itself that may not seem like a lot, but a course designed to make participants hurt had some extra challenges thrown in. Competitors crossed through sand, mud, trees and the Weber River multiple times.
“You had to swim across the river, you’re constantly snaking through trees, and on the bike you have to dismount to do a river crossing, too,” Demong said.
He came through the finish with a sizeable lead, but a few relay teams managed to get close enough to challenge him earlier in the race. The competition he was really looking out for, multi-time USA Cyclocross champion Jonathan Page, took a wrong turn and broke his bike chain early on. Page ended up as the third individual in 2:09:50.
“He still managed to finish a few minutes back, but it would have been an exciting finish, I think,” Demong said.