Durango’s McElveen repeats as Firecracker 50 champ, Breck’s Shelden takes second
For the second consecutive year Durango’s Payson McElveen posted the fastest combined time at the annual Firecracker 50 mountain bike race in Breckenridge.
As the race favorite and bib No. 1 rider, McElveen bested his 2017 championship time by nearly 10 minutes on Wednesday and finished in 3 hours, 43 minutes and 14 seconds while riding for team Orange Seal.
McElveen’s championship time was also nearly five minutes faster than second-place finisher Taylor Shelden of Breckenridge (03:48:08).
While most other riders, including Shelden, rode several minutes slower on their second lap of the 25-mile loop, McElveen actually rode faster on Lap 2. Speeding from 01:51:41 on the first lap to eight seconds faster — 01:51:33 — on the second lap.
It’s the first time a top-three men’s pro/open division finisher posted a faster time on their second lap of the Firecracker 50 since race winner Jamey Driscoll of Park City, Utah, rode 14 seconds faster on his second lap in 2014. That year, Driscoll finished in 03:33:01. McElveen’s total combined time on Wednesday was also the fastest Firecracker 50 time since Driscoll won the race with a time of 03:42:25 in 2015 and the first repeat championship since Driscoll went back-to-back in 2014 and 2015.
The hometown rider entered the race with the No. 3 bib after racing to third-place in 2017 with a time of 04:03:01. Again riding for Tokyo Joe’s, Shelden improved his race time to 03:48:08 on the strength of the second-fastest first lap of the day (01:52:01), and the second-fastest second lap of the day (01:51:33).
Other top local Summit County finishers in the men’s pro/open division included 16th-place rider Sam O’Keefe (04:10:50), 26th-place finisher Matt Powers of Breckenridge and Avalanche Sports (04:40:18) and 27th-place finisher Alexander David of Breckenridge (04:44:26).
This year, the Firecracker 50 25-mile loop course required mountain bikers to complete 4,000 feet of climbing and 3,300 feet of vertical gain on each lap. After starting in waves on Breckenridge’s Main Street in conjunction with the town’s Fourth of July parade, each lap began with 6 miles of climbing out of Breckenridge via the old narrow gauge railroad grade. Riders then traversed into the backcountry via the Boreas Pass trailhead and road, twice topping out above 11,000 feet, before bikers returned to Carter Park near downtown.
In the women’s pro/open division, it was Silverado’s Larissa Conners who rode to a first-place time more than six minutes faster than her nearest competitor. Conners let it loose on her first stab at the 25-mile loop course, racing to a time of 02:11:15 on that first loop. She was nearly seven minutes faster than her closest competitor. The effort gave her enough breathing room to comfortably complete her second lap in 02:23:00, to combine for an overall time of 04:34:14.
Fairplay’s Marlee Dixon raced to third place in the division, with an overall time of 04:47:53 on the strength of her first-lap time of 02:18:03, which was the second fastest time of the day in the women’s division for first laps.
Breck’s Boyd continues to shine
Another race, another success out on the trails for Henry Boyd.
In recent years the 17-year-old Breckenridge rider has made it a habit of not only electing to ride up in older age groups against stronger competition, but also of winning or contending for wins in these events. Wednesday was no different for Boyd, as the Summit Endurance Academy Athlete finished second in the expert men 19-39 age group with a time of 04:26:25. Boyd posted the time thanks to a first lap mark of 02:03:01 that would have put him in the top-20 of the men’s pro/open division for that race leg.
Local woman takes singlespeed open title
Breckenridge local Kristin Schwarck finished first in the women’s singlespeed open division. Schwarck showed consistency on the course, combining a time of 02:37:14 on her first lap with a time of 02:40:47 on her second lap for the first-place time of 05:18:00, which was more than 13 minutes faster than her nearest competitor.
Other top local finishers
Riding for Breck Bike Guides, Breckenridge’s Jonathan Enns finished with the sixth-fastest time in the expert men 30-34 division (05:02:15).
In the expert men 40-44 division, Breckenridge’s Chad Hanley rode to an eighth-place time of 04:45:42.
Riding for Tokyo Joe’s in the expert men 50-59 division, Breckenridge’s Pete Swenson rode to a third-place time of 04:34:14.
In the sport men 20-29 division, Breckenridge’s Clint Sawyer rode to a second-place time of 05:11:01.
And riding for Mr. Nice Guy in the singlespeed open men division, Dillon’s Bernie Romero completed the course with a time of 05:08:55, which good enough for sixth place.
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