In it’s second year the Steamboat Stinger hosted it’s
largest number of competitors as 500 riders signed up for the 2012 event.
Overnight rainstorms continued into Saturday morning
transforming the trail from loose dust to a 25-mile ribbon of hero dirt. Open
classes would be completing two 25-mile laps and 3,300 vertical feet of
climbing per lap summiting the top of Steamboat’s Emerald Mountain twice. The
Steamboat Stinger is different than a lot of ultra-endurance events as it
includes two long technical descents every lap allowing riders who are good
descenders to do some real damage.
As the pro men gathered for the start a light rain continued
to fall. From the gun Subaru/Trek rider and U23 national champion Russell
Finsterwald looked determined to put a hurt on the rest of the field.
Finsterwald was joined initially by Kalan Beisel (Orbea/Tuff Shed) and a bevy
of Honey Stinger riders including Max Taam, Peter Kalmes, and Trevor Walz.
Russell Finsterwald was already starting to gap the chasers
by the top of the first long climb and while Beisel did his best to close it
back down on the long Ridge Trail descent Finsterwald was gone again once the
climbing started up.
"I wasn’t totally sure how today was going to go”
Finsterwald said after the race. ”This is the first race I have done longer
than an hour and a half all year.”
The long distance didn’t seem to slow him down as his lead
kept building throughout the race.
The battle for second was a different scenario as Kalan
Beisel and Peter Kalmes swapped back and forth with Beisel getting a gap on the
climbs and Steamboat local Kalmes closing it up on the DH.
There was no catching Russell Finsterwald however as he
finally crossed the line over 10 minutes up on second place setting a new
course record at 4:14:01.
Behind the leader, Kalmes and Beisel were still locked
together. Kalmes had brought Beisel back on the final twisting downhill but
with almost all singletrack leading to the finish, getting past the Orbea/Tuff
Shed rider was a tougher proposition.
The two riders were forced to sprint it out at the line. Kalan
Beisel proved to have some reserve left in the tank as he surged ahead crossing
the line just 8 seconds in front of Kalmes.
Trevor Walz followed his Honey Stinger/Bontrager teammate
across the line for fourth with Alex Pond taking fifth about 3 minutes back.
The Open women started 10 minutes behind the men and all
eyes were on last year’s winner Katie Compton (Trek). Compton had just
announced her new sponsorship with Trek making the Steamboat Stinger just her
second ride on her new Trek Superfly 100.
Compton started fast as Sari Anderson (Honey
Stinger/Bontrager) and Kelly Boniface (Moots) struggled to stay in contact.
Compton opened up a sizable gap and was quickly out of site.
Feeling comfortable and happy to be on 29-inch wheels the newly signed Trek
rider was charging at the front.
"I like to go out fast…” Compton shared after her finish. "I
suffered a bit at the end but I think everyone does. No matter how tired you
are if the trails are that fun… I could keep pushing.”
With Compton out front Anderson and Boniface were left to
hash out second place. Taking turns up front neither rider could get the upper
hand until the final climb up the Beall trail. Caught up in their tight race,
Boniface had neglected to take in many calories. Before hitting the Beall trail
climb the Moots rider went through a "dark moment” allowing Anderson to open a
In the end, Katie Compton roared through the finish with a
time of 4:57:39 taking her second win and continuing her streak as the only
woman to complete the Steamboat course in under 5 hours.
Sari Anderson kept her lead over Boniface rolling in with a
comfortable gap of almost 3 minutes. Boniface recovered from the "dark moment”
and held on for third place.
Melissa Thomas took fourth over Kate Rench who finished
After completing the 50-mile mountain bike race
Sari Anderson signed up for the trail marathon the following day
Fans had set up a covert feed station on the
Beall trail supplying riders with all the PBR, whiskey, and pigs-in-a-blanket
they could handle