Parkite finishes third at XTERRA |

Parkite finishes third at XTERRA

Emma Garrard makes her way through the singletrack mountain bike portion of the XTERRA World Championships in Maui, Hawaii, on Nov. 1.

After finishing fifth in the professional women’s competition at the XTERRA World Championships in Maui, Hawaii, in 2013, Park City’s Emma Garrard followed with a fourth-place finish in 2014.

This year, the Parkite improved once again, finishing third overall in the off-road triathlon finals that were held on Nov. 1.

Garrard crossed the finish line in 3 hours, 3 minutes and 28 seconds. She completed the 1,500-meter swim in 23:27, the 20-mile mountain bike ride in 1:53:53 and the 10-kilometer trail run in 46:08.

"It’s similar to an Olympic distance [triathlon]," she said of the XTERRA course. "But timewise, it takes a lot longer [compared to road biking and running]."

Flora Duffy (2:54:17) won the professional women’s competition and Lesley Paterson (2:59:16) finished second.

Garrard said she was happy with her finish and said familiarity with the course helped her go faster than she had in years past.

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"I was super happy to be on the podium," she said. "Every time you do a course, you get more familiar with it. You know how to better train and prepare for it."

The former college runner at the University of Nevada was the fastest professional female in the running portion, besting Duffy by 15 seconds.

"I feel pretty strong on the bike and the run," she said. "I don’t have the swim background a lot of triathletes have, but my bike was good enough to get me in the top three and I had the fastest run split in the race."

Knowing how much elevation change was in the cycling and running portions — nearly 3,000 feet of climbing in the bike race and nearly 1,000 feet over the course of the run — helped Garrard train, she said.

"I made an effort to simulate that as much as possible on my rides here in Park City, which was really easy to do," she said. "Park City’s a great place to train for a race like that."

However, she added, training at altitude and racing at sea level present different sets of challenges.

"When you train at altitude, it’s a little bit harder," she said. "It makes racing easier at sea level in some ways, but then there’s the heat you have to deal with [at sea level]."

After improving one spot each of the past three years, Garrard said she doesn’t want to shoot for second place next year. She has her sights set on the top step.

"I think now that I’m on the podium, it’s a matter of taking more risks and going for the win," she said. "Getting a podium spot was a huge accomplishment, so I’ll feel more relaxed on the course next year."

Garrard is sponsored by Specialized, Salomon, Gu, Champion System, Blue Seventy and Probar. She also coaches year-round for the Park City Nordic Ski Team.