Thompsons strong-willed whether at front or back of the pack
MOAB, Utah – If anyone knows the intricacies of pushing a body to its limits, it’s the Thompsons.
In the world of the hardcore athlete, finishing the 24 Hours of Moab means the falling of the curtain for the endurance season … until the next one rolls around.
Jody Thompson and her race team, which included fellow locals Colleen Ihnken and Jaqueline Wood, plus Aspen’s Anda Smalls, finished the race last weekend in second place in the Women’s Expert division. It was possibly the closest finish in 24-hours of Moab history.
“It was pretty suspenseful,” said Thompson, whose other suspenseful feats over the past few months have included being one of five women in the first all-women group to attempt to summit Mount Everest last April. “I never thought we could come that close in a 24-hour race.”
Thompson’s team, Return of 4 Wenches and a Wrench, sponsored by Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge, finished a mere 31 seconds behind first-place finisher, team JANS, from Park City, Utah. The Wenches completed 16 laps, four each, and managed to push it the entire time, despite a flat tire and another mechanical stall.
“It was crazy,” Thompson said. “The mechanicals put us behind by like 12 minutes, and we just said, “OK girls, we have to bust a move.’ It was like six in the morning, and everyone said, “Jody, your lap has to be fast.’ I gave it all I could.”
By the final lap, the team was behind by only seven minutes, and Smalls was up against the rider from JANS who had finished every previous lap seven minutes behind her. The pattern held, but JANS still finished on top by only 31 seconds.
“I’m thrilled to finish as well as we did,” Thompson said. “It was exciting to race expert, especially for someone like me who doesn’t really race.”
An avid ice climber, telemark skier and recreational mountain and road cyclist, Thompson can hang with any race expert. However, she noted that her stint in Nepal might have taken a noticeable toll on her body, considering her fastest lap in Moab was three minutes slower than it was last year.
“They did change the course a little bit,” she said. “But I could feel it in my legs. You have that lack of oxygen (climbing Everest), and it’s constantly destroying all your cells. It takes a while to get nurtured and rebuilt.”
Also in need of cell-regeneration is Mark Thompson, who, like many of the top contenders in the Men’s Solo category, had to quit early because of exhaustion and other problems. During the race, he had five flat tires, a bad crash on the third lap and a general plunge of motivation.
“A lot of guys just cratered,” he said. “I think maybe, this late in the season, we were asking too much of our bodies.”
Mark Thompson completed 10 laps, but finished in 27th place. He still managed to finish ahead of top-ranked Peter Swenson, and 2001 Moab and 2002 Montezuma’s Revenge champion, Rishi Grewal, both of whom took time off from the 24-hour race circuit for a few months this year.
Mark Thompson took second in July’s Revenge race and also finished at the top of the field in several regional road races and the Summit Mountain Challenge series this season.
“I didn’t have that overpowering will to suffer,” Thompson said of this weekend’s 24-hour race. “It wasn’t happening. It was absolutely freezing, and I stopped racing at about 5:30 (a.m.). I was just like, I can’t do this anymore. I’m cold. I’m tired. I went and got in my sleeping bag and finally got warm. I don’t think my body was ready to peak one more time this season. It was trying to tell me from the beginning. I should have listened up.”
The thing about the Thompsons is, there’s no such thing as throwing in the towel. There’s skiing to be had all winter, and another spring on the horizon.
“I am definitely not disappointed,” Mark Thompson said. “Since April, there’s probably been less than 20 days that I didn’t ride a bike. This was a satisfying season for me. Now I can sit back and figure out what I want to try to accomplish next year.”
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