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Marathon National Championships - Bend, Oregon

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |December 1, 2012 3:48 PM

Marathon National Championships Ė Bend, Oregon

Written by: Sydney Fox

JHK feels his rear tire go flat. A torn sidewall from a hidden piece of lava rock. He puts a wrapper in the tire, blasts it with CO2, and is off. A mile later the tire flattens again and heís simply extended his walk back to the start. Twenty minutes in and the number three race plate and last yearís third place finisher is out of the race.

Bend, OR hosted Marathon Nationals for the second time last weekend at the base of Mount Bachelor. Eschewing an 11 mile road climb from town for more singletrack, the course wound around the Wanoga Sno-Park, covering dirt road, meandering singletrack that, although not steep, could climb the legs out of the best racers, finishing on dirt jumps and short, but steep, technical climbs for the final twelve miles. With an almost record-setting lack of rain, the area harbored inches of sand that a late night storm before the race hardly made a dent in.

The front line of the menís pro race consisted of names such as Adam Craig (Rabobank/Giant), Barry Wicks (Kona), Todd Wells (Specialized), JHK (Subaru/Trek), Alex Grant (Cannondale), former U23 champ Colin Cares of Kenda/Felt, and Giant Factory Teamís Carl Decker. The pistol rang out at 9 am and they were off for a 54 mile race.

After a seven-mile dirt road, racers took a tight turn on to singletrack, where they climbed quickly and then had a long, twisting descent. At aid station one, Craig and Wells were out front, with a substantial lead after less than forty minutes. Decker came through third, and then the field steadily flowed through.

The toughest section of course appeared after the first aid. Although there were no sustained climbs, the trail rolled mercilessly for miles, while it circumnavigated a hillside, though with a 2 x 10 setup, there was little need to drop into the small chainring.

At the second aid station the ladies began moving up through the back of the menís pro field, as Sho-Airís Pua Mata came through within an hour of Craig and Wells. Evelyn Dong held on to second with Giant Factory Teamís Kelli Emmett in third.

After a fast, winding second loop, racers passed through the start/finish area on their way out to the last twelve-mile loop. Craig filed in to the last aid asking for a gel that no one produced, with Wells, Decker, and Wicks close behind. During most of the race reigning 24 hour National Champ, Evan Plews had been comfortable around 15th, but coming in to the last couple of miles he made a jump up near 10th and came through the finish line in 9th.

Mata held her lead, Emmett moved up to second, looking smooth and strong, and Honey Stingerís Sarai Anderson found herself in third. All of the women looked focused and prepared for the quick power bursts to come in the final three miles.

As the finish neared, the announcer speculated if Craig could hold his lead against Olympian and reigning Short Track XC National Champ, Wells. He wondered how the battle between long time pros Decker and Wicks was going. At 3 hours and 37 minutes, with a blistering pace of almost 15 miles per hour over 54 miles, Todd Wells rolled in as the new Marathon National Champion. Surprisingly, Carl Decker came in for second, and Adam Craig for third. Barry Wicks was fourth, with Alex Grant in fifth.

In the womenís field, Pua Mata held her lead, coming in only about 45 minutes behind Wells. Kelli Emmett finished second, Sarai Anderson third, with local pro, Serena Gordon 4th, and Moots rider, Kelly Boniface in fifth.


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