The Gold Run Rush: a race for the well-rounded mountain biker
BRECKENRIDGE – The best lungs and legs couldn’t win Wednesday’s mountain bike race on their own. The steep, loose and technical Gold Run course for the Summit Mountain Challenge race No. 3 is one that requires more than just fitness.
“This one really tested a wide range of skills,” said Jean Coulter, who finished fourth of expert women behind Karin Carestia (third), Jari Kirkland (second) and winner Danelle Ballengee, who won with a finish time of one hour, five minutes and 14.48 seconds despite making claims of taking it easy and being afraid of the course before the race.
“This course levelled the playing field a little bit,” Coulter said. “It didn’t just cater to people who are in good shape. You had to be technical, you had to be in good shape, and you had to be an aggressive downhiller. It’s a great course. The most challenging part was knowing Heinous Hill is looming out there. I sort of did an involuntary dismount. Then, you have to stay focused all the way through because you knew the downhill was coming. The sun was doing some fun stuff, and it was dusty, so you could easily lose your line. If you weren’t focused any time in this race … involuntary dismounts.”
The involuntary dismounts were plenty as the race began with a steady climb up Gold Run Road, then traversed a rooted singletrack to Heinous Hill – a mile of steep, loose climbing that truly lived up to its name. Following Heinous Hill was a technical descent and climb on a trenched singletrack for male expert riders, followed by several rocky, off-camber descents dotted with blinding rays of the setting sun and dust clouds.
Scott Tanner found a way to master the course and won the men’s race for his first SMC victory since 1999. He finished in 1:15:59.21 to beat Tim Graczyk (1:16:24.14) and Jacob Youcha (1:16:32.26) in the 19-34 age class.
“I felt like I started out sort of slow,” Tanner said. “I thought, I’d either just enjoy myself or feel good and go faster later. Either nobody was going that fast, or I wasn’t going as slow as I thought. With places like Heinous Hill, you really have to protect your position. I kind of hammered to get back in mine. I’m a descender, and that’s a tough trail, so I knew I could ride with anyone in the race. It’s loose and it’s got a lot of turns. Then, the last two descents are dangerous, and it takes some skill to get down. I guess I had pretty good legs today.”
Others who nailed the formula to excel on the Gold Run course included expert men 35-plus winner Stephen White (1:16:18.79), single-speed winner Mickey Florio (58:22.97), sport men overall winner Rob Crawford (58:58.14) and sport women overall winner Terri Stashick (1:11:25.70).
Even those who felt they could have had a better race still raved about the nature of Wednedsay’s course.
“I had a lot more fun than the other races because this one is more
mountain-bikey,” said Hal Clark, who finished in the top three of expert riders in the first two SMC races but took 10th of 19-34-year-old expert men Wednesday.
“It’s real mountain biking,” he said. “That’s what I like.”
Contrary to Tanner’s testimonial of starting slow, other racers felt there was no room for any slow riding on the podium.
“If you go out slow on this course, you’re not going to win,” said Luke Mason, who took 18th in the 19-34 expert men class Wednesday. “If you’re strong, you have to go out hard because the top five guys will go out super hard.”
In other divisions, Brent Wamback won for Clydesdales (1:09:25.21), Jonathan Weyant won of beginner men (1:08:11.06) and Beth Jahnigen won of beginner women (36:15.27).
For junior categories, Tucker Burton was the only 17-18-year-old girl riding and won in 35:46:54, Dru Taylor (1:10:13.01) won in 17-18 boys and Walker Savidge (1:01:16.43) won among 15-16 boys. Lea Taylor was the the only 15-16 girl and won in 36:17.72.
Garrick Abt won of the 13-14 boys, Alexis Burton won in 13-14 girls, Jeff Metzger won of 11-12 boys, Meghan Kane won of 11-12 girls, Andy Proctor won of the 10-and-under boys and Heide Gruber won of the 10 and under girls.
Look for full results on Friday’s scoreboard. SMC race No. 4 takes place July 23 at Straight Creek in Dillon.
Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at
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