Graczyk and Merrill grind their way to victory |

Graczyk and Merrill grind their way to victory

Richard Chittick

BRECKENRIDGE – With only one race left in the Summit Mountain Challenge, the overall series lead for the men is still undecided.

Tim Graczyk passed Leland Turner with only a few miles left win the men’s expert 19-34 class at the Pennsylvania Gulch Grind Wednesday night.

The victory temporarily puts Graczyk in the series lead over Tim Faia, who did not race.

But, according to race promoter Jeff Westcott, the racers are allowed to drop their worst performance of the season, meaning Graczyk and Faia are in a dead tie.

“The final race is worth double points, so it’s a little scary,” Graczyk said afterwards. “(This race) was very, very hard, but I still really had fun. This course keeps you on your toes. The last two miles really hurt.”

Turner held onto second, finishing 66 seconds after Graczyk. Brett Morgan finished third, roughly 2 minutes off the winning pace.

“This is my best finish ever,” said Morgan, who was riding in his first race since cracking three ribs in a collision at a race in Sol Vista last month.

Meanwhile, in the women’s expert race, Monique Merrill and Jari Kirkland finished first and second only four days after finishing first and third in Montezuma’s Revenge.

“I felt wretched at the beginning,” Merrill said. “I felt horrible and everyone started passing me and then I slowly started catching up.”

Merrill finish nearly three minutes ahead of Kirkland and nearly four minutes ahead of third-place finisher Kelli Anthony of Vail.

Anthony just recently returned to racing after breaking her arm in June.

Despite the harsh climb halfway through the course that gives the race it’s name, this proved to be one of the most popular in the series.

“This is my favorite course,” said Devin Curran, who won the men’s sport 19-34 division. That podium was rounded out by Brad Stamp in second and Chad Hanley in third.

“It’s the perfect course for everybody,” Anthony said. “It was worth coming (from Vail).”

“I loved it,” said Morgan. “It’s got everything – fireroads, singletrack, hard climbs, general climbs. It’s a true mountain bike course.”

FINISH LINE: Bridget Puchalsky won the women’s sport race. … The beginner races went to Erik Anderson for the men and Chris Costa for the women. … Richard Banach bested the Clydesdales and Mike Skellion cranked his way to victory over the single-speed class. … Along with Merrill and Kirkland, Dawes Wilson, Eric Black, Mike Ahlman, James Lindenblatt and Cindy Burkhart all finished The Grind after competing in this weekend’s Montezuma’s Revenge… The SMC finals, worth double points, will be held Aug. 27 at Breckenridge Ski Resort at 5:45 p.m. … See Friday’s Scoreboard for complete results.

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