The National Ultra Endurance Series in the USA has twelve events, running from late April until early September. Save for two events, these are all 100 mile events. As a Marathon MTB race goes beyond 100km, it will also go beyond four or 5 hours – and this is when the races become truly epic. But a race doesn’t require distance alone to make it truly epic. Two races on the NUE calendar don’t make up the full 100 miles. Syllamo’s Revenge in May is 125km, and the well known Park City P2P is 80 miles, and set for this Labor Day Weekend.
80 miles, 14000 feet of climbing. So that’s shorter than Leadville, right? And shorter than all but one of the other twelve events. But the park City P2P utilises the huge single track network that is available. It’s not a crowded out and back course. It doesn’t play out like a road race might. It isn’t overly crowded, with a limit of 350 racers. And there is a whole week devoted to marking the course, so it’s unlikely that the lead group will be lead off course.
With lots of climbing, and lots of single track, this is a race that will reward those who take the race to their competitors. The chance of someone sitting in a small bunch for the majority of the race is diminished by the demanding route that explore the great trails that Park City has to offer. With some patchy storms predicted for the area in the days leading up to the race, the trails should hopefully be tacky and fast.
The final list of racers has been released, with no more rider transfers allowed. The rider limit means that entries to this race are in high demand. For 2012, the race sold out in under 4 minutes. That is impressive demand, and enough to raise interest in even the most apathetic Marathon MTBer. If it’s that popular, it must be good – right? The ingredients are there: organisation, trails, competition – and cash prizes. Open winners get a $US2000 prize in 2012, with $US1500 for second place and $US1000 for third. The cash goes down to 5th place, with age group winners also in the payout – $275 each. Put on prize money, and the racers will come.
In 2011, Tinker Juarez pushed hard, but Alex Grant took the win.
The last three editions have the Park City P2P have been won by Alex Grant (Cannondale Facotry. And he is back again to shoot for the top step of the podium in 2012. Being local, and a previous winner, Grant should be able to carry a lot of confidence into this Saturday. Looking over the other starters, a few names stand out. With the Breck Epic finishing just a fortnight earlier, a number of racers should be in prime condition. Ben Sonntag (overall winner), Ben Melt Swanepoel (2nd overall), Josh Tostado and Nick Truitt. But the podium contenders don’t end there, with Scott Tietzel likely to be in the mix, along with Jason Sager and Yuki Ikeda.
The women’s open race sees the return of 2011 Champion Amanda Carey – another racer who just finished the Breck Epic in a winning way. It is hard to say who will take the battle to Carey, but with Pua Mata also on the start sheet, and Katherine O’Shea there representing Australia, it will make for a great race.
Good luck to all those who are racing. For further event details, check out the race website.