Big Frog 65: NUE Marathon Series #2

On April 28, 2018 Roost Racing, LLC held the Cohutta 100 (NUE Epic Series) , Big Frog 65 (NUE Marathon Series), and Old Copper 20 in Ducktown, TN. This was stop number two on the 2018 National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) race schedule.  These races were held at the Ocoee Whitewater center, a venue that hosted the kayak/canoe slalom competitions at the 1996 Olympic games.  Nestled within the Cherokee National Forest racers traversed through sections of Brush Creek, the Tanasi Trail Systems and miles of scenic fire roads.

The Big Frog 65 packed over 8000 feet of climbing in just 65 miles.  Rain the previous day had some racers worried, but the trails were in prime condition. It was a little chilly at the start but the sun peaked out and warmed up to mid 60’s for most of the race. Couldn’t have asked for better racing weather!

Women’s Open

1st-Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) 2nd-Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles) 3rd-Danielle Slaton

Toops gets her second consecutive NUE Big Frog 65 Win!

The  2017 NUE Marathon winner Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) wins the women’s open in 2018 with a time of 5:23:24.

“This was my second time racing the Big Frog 65.  The weather was perfect for the race in the Mid 60’s, much better than last years humidity. From racing the previous year, I knew starting position and powering up that first road climb could make or break the race.  Going into the singletrack I was second, making sure I had the leader in  sight. The group I was with quickly became a congo line as we all rode each others wheels having no where to pass.  In hindsight this probably gave my legs the warmup they needed. It also allowed  some time to get used to my new Pivot Les 27.5 as we just finalized the build two days prior.  As we entered the first gravel climb I was now leading and worked hard on the ups and downs to maintain that lead.  I worked with several other racers through out the day and had a 40 minute PR from last year!” Next NUE race will be Mohican!

Finishing second was Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles) 5:32:01.

“I have raced the Big frog 65 for past two years.  Both years I really enjoyed the race and thought the race officials did a great job.  This year the weather was perfect and condition of the trail was mostly good with an exception to trail by the river which was muddy and wet.  Tanasi trail system offers some great rooty single trek. And the graveI flows good with some steep climbs and pretty views. My goal was to get 5th or better and was not expecting to get 2nd at all. I beat my previous years time by more then an hour.

I think preriding, fitness and my new bike contributed to my improvement from the previous year. I had no significant mechanicals and only wrecked once with no injury.  I started the race fast but feel like I did slow down to a steady pace during the second half.  All the racers were friendly and made the race even more enjoyable.  Even though it was a grind, it was still just overall just a great raceday!”

Just a couple minutes back from second was Danielle Slaton 5:33:54.

“I stayed in the second group on the road climb and went into the singletrack as the 3rd female behind Jen and Mary. I was by myself which was unusual and wasn’t pushing too hard since I knew it was a long race. Lara and Hallie caught me and the 3 of us rode together though the end of the first singletrack and across the bridge. I stayed in 5th place for the Bear Paw climb and Riverview singletrack, conserving energy where I could and staying behind Hallie (we could still see Lara about 10 seconds up). Once we hit the forest roads, I managed to pass Hallie but could no longer see Lara. Eventually, I caught Mary and rode with her until she flatted on the big frog loop. That put me in 3rd with only Lara and Jen ahead. I kept riding hard since I didn’t know how long it’d take Mary to fix the flat. The result was better than I’d expected, after training for only 14 weeks with Jeremiah Bishop. I was hoping for at least a top 5 and exceeded my expectations! My best result in this race previously was 9th in 2016 and I cut 20 minutes off my time!

Sponsors: My education and full time job, haha :) And my husband who’s the best mechanic in the world! I’m a Vanderkitten VIP too.”

Next NUE Race: None, doing BC Bike Race in July!

Men’s Open

1st-Andrew Dillman (Think Green) 2nd-Elliott Baring (Pivot Cycles/Baring Performance) 3rd-Chris Tries (The Bike Shop) 4th-Thomas Turner (Jamis Factory Team) 5th-Chris Shannon (Think Green-Bicycle Face)

Andrew Dillman wins NUE Big Frog 65!

After a second place finish in 2017, Andrew Dillman (Think Green) wins the Men’s open in 4:16:56.

Thirteen minutes later, last years winner, Elliott Baring (Pivot Cycles/Baring Performance) took second in 4:30:41.

Chris Tries (The Bike Shop) finished third in 4:32:16.

“I race for The Bike Shop in Johnson City and Industry Nine. I ended up 3rd in the open men Big Frog after having a slow start. At the start I got popped of the front group and was 15th or so going into the first singletrack. As I sat in the back of the group watching the leaders roll away from me, with nothing I could do because the singletrack was too tight for passing; I accepted I was not making a podium today.  In that group I made my way to the front on the first climb and got away from eveyone on the first decent.  After that I was solo for while until John and Spencer caught me in the big frog loop. This gave me some rest and allowed me to attack the big climb coming back and start my bridge to the guy in 4th who I thought was a world away until other racers coming the opposite direction started saying ” you can catch him”. I started seeing the 4th place alone and up from him 2nd and 3rd midway from aide station 3 to aide 4 and thought “shit I am back in the game!”  but did not make contact until the finial  5 to 10 miles of singletack where I came through 4th and 3rd place.I plan on making it up to the Mohican 100k after MTB marathon nationals this week where I hope to defend my 35-39 title from last year.”

Singlespeed

Crawford takes the win in singlespeed

1st-Matt Crawford (UPMC/PRO Bike+Run)  2nd-Josh Kunz (Knobby Side Down) 3rd Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage Racing)

Matt Crawford (UPMC/PRO Bike+Run) wins Big Frog singlespeed in 4:56:40.

“My recent move to Asheville made this race an easy trip from my new home soil. I’ve raced the Cohutta 100 the past couple of years so the course was very familiar. I decided to start off fast this year vs pacing the single-track in the 100-mile version. Entering the woods in top 20 really allows for a fast and flowy ride. Once the single-track opened up to gravel roads the race was on. I put in a coupled digs up the beautiful TN gravel. To my surprise, 1st place was in sight after the first summit. We continued to ride together for the next 10 or so miles. I would create a gap during all the climbs but Josh quickly made up ground on the flats. My trusty 34×20 gearing was once again a good choice as the miles added up. However, the legs began to fatigue around mile 50 heading into the last 10 miles of punchy single-track. I put one last effort into the big climb up to Aid #1. The gap to 2nd place was about 30 seconds into the single track. I kept looking back for any sign of life behind me. I didn’t see anyone for the last 10 miles. Making the turn and entering the Whitewater center was a pleasant feeling.

 This was my first NUE win after a couple 2nd and 3rd  finishes last year. Heading to PMBAR and Pisgah 111k this month. Time to get gnarly! Big thanks for Pro Bike +Run for dialing in my SS each year.”

Just a few minutes back Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage) finished in 5:05:07

“This was my first ever single speed endurance race and it was tough!  My 32×19 gearing seemed a good balance for the day.
The day started out with some big efforts jockeying for position up the road climb. I managed to just get ahead of Eli Orth and into 3rd place just before the first single track. At the time I thought I was at least 2nd but I didn’t see Josh Kunz sneak past in the pack up the road climb. Apparently he was pulling on the front like a beast!
Most of the day I was racing by myself (around geared racers) until midway through the “lollipop” area of the course. Eli had closed in and was looking strong so I made sure to at least stay on his wheel, which wasn’t an easy task. Eventually I was able to get a gap on the gravel downhills and maintain it through the flat section and all the way until the finish line. It was a tough day and I’m pumped to end up on the podium!  Thanks to Paradise Garage for the support!
Looking forward to Mohican 100k SS!”

Masters 50+

Clayton gets the top step in Masters 50+

Jeff Clayton (left) wins Big Frog 65 in Master’s divison. Race director Justin Mace (Center). Roger Masse (right) placed 2nd in Cohutta Master’s

Coming in first, 2016 NUE Master’s champion, Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) in a time of 4:57:46.

“With a lot of rain forecast Thursday before the race I was expecting muddy trails and roads.  So, I was pleasantly surprised when taking a hike with my wife on a trail from Thunder Rock campground Friday that the trails and roads were in great shape.  A short pre-ride of some of the course later confirmed that.  I had an ok start to the race, sticking with the second group heading into the first trail. Unfortunately about 10 minutes in I clipped a pedal and crashed pretty hard.  Several racers went by, and more importantly my rhythm/confidence was shaken and knee bruised.  By the time I got through the only messy part of the course on the old copper road trail a few more racers had come around.  Things started to improve for me and by the time I exited the trails onto the gravel I was feeling better.  From there on, I started catching racers consistently.  Passing Jorge Cortez gave me a boost as he is a strong Masters racer.  I traded some strong pull on the flats/downhills with Jesus Galindez up to the 3rd aid station and from there summoned my reserves to catch a few more racers on the road up, up ,up to the return of the trails.  Feeling pretty strong as I entered the singletrack I relished the fact that I wasn’t in the 100 mile race this year and could really enjoy the trails!  I figured Matt Hammond was still ahead in the Masters category, and I wasn’t sure about anybody else including Scott Burrill, who won Masters in 2017, so I gave everything I had all the way to the finish line.  It turns out Matt had gone off course on the gravel, so was behind me and I’d already passed Scott so I was chasing a ghost!  I really enjoyed returning to the Big Frog race after three years of surviving the Cohutta.  The race was very well run and who could ask for a more beautiful day in a more beautiful setting!”

About twelve minutes back was Scott Burrill (Bikeman.com) coming in second at 5:10:20. Rounding out the top three was Matt Hammond in 5:14:01

“Was leading the race more than halfway through and took a wrong turn that cost me about 20 minutes. This occured on the lollipop portion between sag 2 and 3. It would have helped tremendously to have a marshall at this area. I was just following blue tape like we were told to do…. It was my first attempt at this race and it was well attended with may recognizable faces in the cycling community. All in all, I enjoyed the day 😊

For complete results click here

The next NUE race is Mohican MTB 100 on June 2, 2018 in Loudonville, Ohio. Hope to see you there!

Written by: Jen Toops

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