Written by: Jen Toops
Tatanka Marathon stop #5 on the 2018 NUE Race Series
On July 7, 2018, NUE racers headed to Sturgis, SD for the NUE Epic and Marathon races. Previously a point-to-point race, the new 2018 course consisted of a loop format that started and finished in downtown Sturgis.
The new course was made up of loops A, B, and C. Epic riders started at 7AM and completed all three loops, 90 miles and 12,000 feet of climbing. Marathon racers completed B and C loops, 40 miles and around 5,000 ft of climbing. There was also a Sprint loop that only completed the C loop. The neutral aid station on Main Street also served as the start and finish for all races. The volunteers helped make sure racers were safe and directed traffic at all intersections.
Sturgis is located in western South Dakota and is home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally. This area is also quickly becoming popular with mountain bikers. Racers rode on parts of the Centennial trail, which is located in the Black Hills mountain range.
Trails winded through both prairies, cow pastures, and rocky forest single-track. Race day conditions had temperatures pushing 100 degrees, exposed sunny climbs, fast flowy downhills, sand pits, steep switchbacks, and stunning mountainous views. Racers were also challenged with dodging the occasional fresh cow patty. There was a 50% DNF rate in the Epic race.
Easton win’s men’s open
Winning by only a couple minutes, Ian Easton takes the men’s open win in 3:45:34.
“The crew in Sturgis really knows what they are doing. They pretty much have everything dialed from the new course to the volunteers. Who spent all day in the scorching heat stopping traffic at every intersection and getting riders whatever they needed. Thanks to everyone who had a hand in putting on this killer event.
Sponsors: Burleigh County Bicycle Cult, Dakota Cyclery and Larsons Cyclery”
In a close race, Ryan Aakre, hung on for second place with a time of 3:47:22. Another four minutes back, Jasper Klein came in third coming in at 3:51:22.
Walter’s takes her first NUE win
Local rider, Erin Walter, won the women’s open race coming in at 4:04:14.
“First, I want to thank Cranky’s Bike Shop, located in downtown Rapid City. They always hook me up and make sure my bike is dialed and ready to go, even when I procrastinate and bring it in a half hour before they close the night before a race!
I love riding and racing in the Black Hills. We have a fun and supportive bike community, which was much needed this last weekend during the Tatanka race. With temperatures nearly 100 degrees, the conditions were brutal, but I fed off the energy of all our volunteers at aid stations and spectators along the course. THANK YOU, volunteers and race directors for the high-fives, cheering, and buckets of ice to keep us going!
The first loop of the Marathon (loop B) follows some of my favorite sections of the Centennial Trail. I was smiling from ear to ear flying down Bulldog! Thanks to the Wednesday Night Series in Sturgis, put on by Xtreme Dakota Bicycles, I didn’t have any surprises for trail conditions or steep climbs on our second lap (Loop C). This lap was straight survival-mode for me, my goal was to keep my heart rate down and just keep pedaling! After finishing the last climb, I was just so stoked to stay on my bike and to finish the race!
Great job Epic riders! You’re all animals! Maybe I’ll join you someday…”
The 2017 NUE marathon champion, Jen Toops, came in just four minutes back at 4:08:06.
“This is my second year racing Tatanka but the race course was completely new this year. The temps were scorching again and I knew it was going to be a hot day. The marathon race started at 8 and it was already hot! A motorcycle escort took us out of town and then we were let loose on the canyon climb.
Erin and I stayed together for most of the 17 min climb out of town. Having pre-rode a bit, I knew there was more single-track climbing ahead and I slowed the pace so I didn’t burn all my matches on the first climb. On the first downhill the trail was extremely dry and loose. Before I knew it, my front end washed out on a downhill switchback and I lost sight of Erin.
Relieved when I came up on the first aid station, I filled some water and got some ice around my neck. I knew I shouldn’t be stopping at all but I needed to get my temp down. It was scorching and I didn’t dare run out of water here.
I spent the next few hours trying to ride smooth on my Pivot Les and make up some time. Around 2.5 hrs in I started feeling great, hot, but my legs felt good. At the end of B loop I grabbed my pack from the cooler filled with ice cold CarboRocket and a few Honey Stinger gels and set out for C loop.
The beginning of C loop was exposed prairie. I focused on reeling in the next rider I could see across the prairie grass in hopes of catching the Erin. I pushed the pace on the climbs and had fun dodging cow patties and trying to stay upright in the sand mines. The last climb was unexpectedly steep. The finish line finally came and was rewarded with a ice cold misting machine to cool down.
Thanks to my sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot cycles, Rotor, Xpedo, Ergon, Stans, Continental, Honey Stinger, Carborocket, Kasks helmets.”
About forty minutes back, Michelle Stampe, finished third in 4:48:59.
“Sponsors: Two Wheeler Dealer Cycle and Fitness in Spearfish, SD, and am a Black Hills Ridge Rider.
Toops makes it two in a row
Coming off a win at the NUE Iron Mountain, Anthony Toops takes another NUE win with a time of 3:54:43. With this win, Toops and Kunz are tied for the NUE overall singlespeed division.
“Tatanka has proven to be one of the toughest races on the calendar for me and this year wasn’t any different! The extreme temperatures made for a tough day.
At this point I was worried I’d never see his wheel again but I decided to squash the negative talk and push on as hard as I could. On the downhill to I90 I made contact with him again which was a huge relief. We rode together again until the climbing started at the FT Meade trails. Josh stopped for some water just before the climb but I didn’t need to so I went on. This was where the race started to break up a little although I never let my guard down.
Finishing about ten minutes back, Josh Kunz took second in 4:05:38. Bob Callaway took the third step in 4:28:25.
Llinares takes the top step
In a close race in the master’s division, Mark Llinares beats Mike Young by about three minutes, coming in at 3:50:05. Mike Young took second at 3:53:16.
Eddy Reimer, rounded out the podium and took third with a time of 4:14:10.
What’s next on the NUE Marathon series? click here to register for the Wilderness 101k in Coburn, PA