Sunday, April 11, 2010

Julian Death March: Julian, California -- Full Report, Results, and Photos

Written by: Jens Raz

California Cyclocross Champion and two-time Death March Champion Brent Prenzlow defeated Danish Champion Simon Jensen to take his third win at this demanding race.

Brent Prenzlow brining it home for his third Death March win (photo by Mrs. Brent Prenzlow)

This race is called the Julian Death March for a reason. In Race-Director Rich Wolf's own words: "If you weren't dying at some time during the race I haven't done my job." True to form this was one of, if not the toughest race on the West Coast.

A shivering cold greeted the most competitive and eager group ever assembled at the Death March. The 4th annual running promised more climbing and additional miles than ever before.

The promise of stiff competiton drew out defending champion and local speed man/Dentist, Guy Sutton (Cal Coast Cyclery), fresh from a top-10 finish at Vision Quest. His competition was fierce as 2-time Death March winner and multiple California State Cyclocross champion, Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific), was waiting in the wings. Brent had company during the waiting game as the current Danish Cross Country Mountain Bike National Champion, Simon Jensen (HC Stevens Bikes), slid up in position among the defending champions. Cannondale Factory Racer Dezmin Wilder and Sho-Air’s Mario Corea rounded out the top competition. They too wanted a piece of that Julian Apple Pie!

The lead group opens it up on an early climb with Jensen, Prenzlow, Sutton, and Corea left to right (photo by: Rich Wolf)

Compared to the previous years, the 2010 edition was 5 miles longer. A tough "horsethief" like climb/hike a bike was added to the first of two laps, 55 miles into the 64. The last loop adds about 3200 feet of climbing and 22 miles of "beautiful" riding through cow pastures and Wildlife Preserves with turkeys, bulls, snakes and other distractions.

Past editions of the Death March were marked by early breakaways and the eventual winner soloing to a commanding victory. Prenzlow, in his first two wins did so on a cross bike. In contrast, Guy Sutton took the win last year on his Ibis Mojo.

This year interestingly enough, the lead group stayed together producing a very close race for the first 60+ miles between Brent Prenzlow, Guy Sutton and Simon Jensen. Prenzlow was riding smart and doing minimal work while staying in the draft until dropping off on Rodriguez Canyon due to a mechanical. He had lost a water-bottle cage bolt and bottle, as it was wedged into his crank. Loosing close to 5 minutes by the 3rd aid station.

Utah racer Greg Gibson flying the flamboyant orange of Union College with his older brother Charlie just behind (photo by Rich Wolf)

Left to their own wits with Brent distracted, Guy and Simon were on their own to battle it out. Coming out of the desert, Oriflame was the first of 2 brutal climbs to test their strength. Sutton, the 41-year-old dentist, almost dislodged the European coming out of the 1600' climb. Unfortunately for Guy, the thought of early glory was short lived as the Dane was able to create a gap going up the next grueling ascent of Banner Grade. Brent recovered from his potentially devastating mechanical and surged past the 2nd placed rider before leveling out into the town of Julian.

Prenzlow and Jensen duked it out on the final loop. Finally, Prenzlow, riding a 29"mountain bike this year, rode clear on the final evil granny gear climb with just 9 miles to go. Riding solo past the resting steers and turkeys to victory. Rounding out the Podium were the Jensen and Sutton.

Guy Sutton challenged for consecutive wins at the 64-mile grueler (photo by Rich Wolf)

Dezmin Wilder came in fourth with Provo, Utah, resident Greggy Gibson (Racer’s Cycle Service) taking the final podium spot in 5th.

Cannondale's Dezmin Wilder (photo by Rich Wolf)

Not to be outdone, Calvin Mulder finished the race in just over 9 hours on a fixed-gear and rigid mountain bike to show how truly tough some people are!

The Men's Podium -- Sutton, Prenzlow, and Jensen left to right (photo by Jens Raz)

The Death March offers up over 16,000 vertical feet of climbing in 86 miles.

Pro Men

1, Brent Prenzlow
2, Simon Jensen
3, Guy Sutton
4, Dezmin Wilder
5, Greg Gibson
6, Chris Crosby
7, Tom Andrews
8, Luke Wiens
9, Michael Hanson
10, Bruce Wilson
11, Alex Ter-Vrught


  1. Sounds like my kinda race. Nice work yall.

    See ya at Sea Otter and Cohutta 100

  2. Great write up. At least I can say I was witness for the first 3 miles. I loved it!!