Keck Baker and Carla Williams Win a Brutal Hampshire 100
Written by: Karen Potter
The 9th annual Hampshire 100 was supposed to be a “kinder”, “gentler” version than the prior year’s sufferfest at which race winner Jeremiah Bishop took roughly an hour longer to race the 100-mile course than the 2013 version. To appease the grumblings about the 2014 course, race directors opted for a 33-mile lap format for the ’15 version – offering a 50k, 100k and a 100 miler NUE series race.
The new lap consisted of more technical singletrack and was leaving out some of the brutally rough power line climbs and washed out jeep roads. Most importantly the new course avoided vast sections of trail that crossed freshly logged terrain rendering them essentially unrideable. The goal was to have the race take less time than last year, but that proved much different on race day with finishing times taking longer.
Despite the longer duration, the majority of the racers felt this year’s course was certainly much more fun. The trails that were added, albeit still really hard, were much more enjoyable than previous editions. The additional singletrack was really fun to most riders but rain the night before made the unending roots and rocks a greasy, slippery mess to ride and thus slowed down the anticipated lap times.
An unfortunate issue popped up this year that has not been a problem in the past. A poorly marked turn on a fast section that roughly 30+ racers missed before it was taped off. The unfortunate thing about the missed turn was that it still lead racers back onto the course so there was no knowledge of having missed a turn until it was far too late to correct it. Having a difficult call to make, the race director stuck to the rules of disqualifying those racers having gone off course and placing their finish times on a separate “administrative placement list.” In appeasement, those having gone off course at that turn have been given a free entry into next year’s event.
The Hampshire 100 is definitely a ‘hard core’ race. Many of the NUE series racers will agree that this is the hardest race of the series. The elite men finished just shy of 9 hours and the elite woman winner finished in 11’40”.
Despite the toughness of this race, many will be back for more punishment next year. Although, the race director promises for a ‘kinder’ shorter time duration next year…. stay tuned.
Here’s a simple summary of just how difficult this race is: 100 miler finishers: 39; 100k finshers 102; DNF: 77; 50k finishers 78; Admin/Disqualified off course: 27.