Race Report: Days 1 and 2

Racer update about:

It has been nearly 40 hours since the beginning of the race and the race leaders are already pushing a record-breaking pace.  While we are still awaiting to hear our first call-ins, the SPOT narrative has been telling us an interesting story.  As the racers approached Elkford (mile 109), they were mostly sticking close together, although Matthew Lee (Sobe/Cannondale) appeared to maintain the lead almost the entire time.  Matt also decided to put in some night miles as he pushed into the new route addition in the Flathead Valley.  As many of the other race leaders, such as Kurt Refsnider (AZT 300 record holder) and and John Nobile (current border-to-border record holder) decided to sleepin Sparwood (mile 140), Matt pushed to Corbin.

This morning and afternoon, many racers pushed into and through the Flathead addition.  Unfortunately, Brunello Godio missed the turn toward Cabin Pass and lost a few hours as he approached the now-closed border crossing at North Fork Rd.

While we are yet to hear reports of border crossings, it appears that all the racers have not had an issue crossing thus far.  John Nobile made it from the end of the Flathead addition to the First & Last Chance within 18 minutes.  Perhaps Matt Lee stopped off for a beer after he crossed the border, as it took him nearly 40 minutes to start pedaling down Airport Rd.  Jay & Tracy Petervary made it across the border in just a couple of minutes but appeared to briefly miss the turn onto Airport Rd, but they quickly backtracked and found their way.

Matt Lee, clearly eager to get close to Whitefish, only stopped in Eureka (mile 225) for 30 minutes.  Matt likely didn't stop for a proper meal, which is impressive considering he just road for 120 miles without any services and has another 90 before he goes into Whitefish.  Thanks to this move, he has already developed a 25 mile lead, through a difficult climb over the Whitefish Divide, over his nearest competitor, Jay & Tracy.  However, a big unknown in John Nobile, who hasn't used his SPOT in over three and a half hours since arriving in Eureka.

What's Ahead

The Whitefish Divide will prove to be a difficult and slow section for racers this year.  Cricket Butler, who spent some time scouting the route prior to the race, reported miles of avalanche debris over the Whitefish Divide on Grave Creek Rd.  Thankfully, the owner of Grave Creek Cabins cleared a path with a chainsaw this past week, but going through this section will undoubtably be slow.

Beyond Grave Creek Rd., reports indicate that Red Meadow Pass still has some snow cover.  Although it will not be as deep and difficult to pass as last year, it will certain slow the racers down as they descend into Whitefish.

A big thanks to Joe Polk of MTBcast for filming the racers as they started from Banff.  Scott Morris of TopoFusion also made an animation (below) of the SPOT data from the first day.  While it may look like some racers are cutting the course, that is merely because the racers may not have had their SPOTs on the entire time and their tracks moved in a straight line between checkins.

Be sure to also check out some MTBcast interviews with the racers prior to the start of the race.



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