Park City Point 2 Point

Keegan Swenson Takes Sprint Victory Over Todd Wells While Larissa Connors Dominates the Women’s Field

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Saturday morning, the backcountry mountain bike spectacle known as the Park City Point 2 Point sounded the start canon. The race that normally ushers in Utah’s colorful fall blasted off but none of the cool temps, changing foliage, or damp hero dirt that usually accompany the event were on hand. Instead, summer conditions were in full force in the Utah high country.

The forecasted temperatures in Park City were hotter than ever but so was the competition at the 9th annual Point 2 Point. With a $2,000 winners purse the Point 2 Point always draws some top talent but 2017 featured a faster-than-ever group of men vying for the top positions. Highlights of that group included former national champions Todd Wells (Scott/Troy Lee) and Geoff Kabush (Scott), defending P2P champion Keegan Swenson (Cannondale), who passed up a trip to the world championships for a shot at defending his title, as well as a host of ultra-endurance honchos like Construction Zone Racing/Scott Sports teammates Kyle Trudeau and Fernando Riveros-Paez, Ben Sonntag (Clif Bar), and Justin Lindine.

Todd Wells cuts through the early morning sunlight. Angie Harker/Selective Vision

Right from the gun it was clear this year’s P2P was going to be like no other. An hour in, despite miles of singletrack, no fewer than a dozen riders still occupied the lead group, and they were rolling fast.

Another hour of climbing only managed to dislodge two riders as a pack of 10 powered through the Deer Valley feed led by ’15 P2P champ Robbie Squire. All the top riders were represented with Geoff Kabush biding his time a few bike lengths off the back.

Around the halfway point, Swenson attacked, pushing the pace into the long enduro segment on the Corvair trail. A move that worked for him in 2016, Swenson popped more riders from the lead group but couldn’t shake Wells. By the time he entered the aspen-rooted maze known as John’s Trail, Swenson and Wells established a gap of a few seconds over the rest of the lead group.

Geoff Kabush rode to third place in his inaugural P2P. Photo by: Angie Harker/Selective Vision

The two leaders stayed wheel to wheel and Kabush rejoined the affair as they climbed up and around Shadow Lake, the high-point of the race. As they descended down the 20-minute Crescent Mine Grade trail Kabush would blow a tire before they reached Park City Resort (Support Station #3), dropping him back a little more than 5 minutes.

With just over 20 miles left the lead duo now had a 2-minute gap on Kyle Trudeau and Ben Sonntag and over 5 minutes on Canadian, Geoff Kabush.

Wells and Swenson continued their two-man battle over the final mix of climbs, rocky descents, and unbroken singletrack from Park City Resort to the new finish line outside Skullcandy headquarters.

An unregistered participant spotted on course. Angie Harker/Selective Vision

After 75 miles the race came down to a sprint finish. Wells took the early lead out on the slightly downhill paved bike path that made up the final 200 meters of the Point 2 Point course. Swenson tucked in behind as both riders built up speed all along the finishing stretch. In fact, they were coming so fast that race director Jay Burke had to clear all the spectators from the finishing venue and pull up stakes on the finishing chute to make room for the elbow-to-elbow battle.

Both riders powered out of the saddle in their biggest gears, surging toward the line with Swenson popping out of the draft in perfect slingshot position to nip Wells at the line and take his second Point 2 Point title.

Eric Porter manuals his way to the finish line. Angie Harker/Selective Vision

Geoff Kabush made an impressive final surge, posting the fastest time over the final 20 miles, taking minutes out of the leaders but coming up just short only a minute and a half behind at the finish.

Ben Sonntag rolled in for fourth just in front of Kyle Trudeau.

The ladies of the 2017 Point 2 Point provided their own firepower for this ultra-endurance event.

Larissa Connors smiling her way through the 75-mile P2P course. Photo by: Angie Harker/Selective Vision

Past winner Evelyn Dong (Liv) made her return to Park City and the P2P. Hannah Bingham (Eriksen), winner of the Steamboat Stinger, made her debut at the race as did TransSylvania Epic winner Kaysee Armstrong (Liv). Recent Pierre’s Hole 100k champion Caedran Harvey (Fitzgerald’s) was also on hand along with Breck 100 and Lutsen 99er champion Larissa Connors (Twenty20/Felt).

From the start the pace was high as Connors and Armstrong jumped to the front opening gaps early on.

Kaysee Armstrong testing her legs out west. Angie Harker/Selective Vision

Connors quickly established herself as the early leader though, pulling away from Armstrong and the rest of the field in the winding one-track of Round Valley. The early climbs certainly didn’t slow Connors either as she steadily opened a gap to the chasers while picking off riders in the open men’s field that started in front of her.

A battle for second was brewing behind the lone leader however, Firecracker 50 winner Marlee Dixon (Pivot/DNA Cycling) was riding just in front of Caedran Harvey as both riders climbed past Deer Valley and Shadow Lake over 50 miles into the race.

Dixon held about a minute lead until both riders entered the Park City feed together. Harvey left the feed just in front of Dixon and despite having several thousand feet of climbing in front of her, Harvey started to feel her best form of the day coming on.

Harvey made the best of it, putting almost 10 minutes into Dixon in the last 20 miles. Despite Caedran’s impressive surge Connors was too far-gone to even think about bringing back.

Larissa Connors had such a good day in fact that at the finish her time would have placed her in the top-20 of a stacked open men’s field.

After just over 7 hours of riding Connors crossed the line to claim another win in her long list of ultra-endurance triumphs this summer. In a surprise move Connors donated her entire $2,000 prize purse to the Summit Bike Club, a local youth mountain bike development team.

Connors took the win by almost 30 minutes over second-placed Caedran Harvey. Marlee Dixon held on for third over past P2P winner Evelyn Dong who finished fourth. Hannah Bingham took the final podium spot in fifth.

Once all the excitement, awards, and money had been dispersed the final finisher was still on course. Although the fastest finishers cross the line in just over 6 hours most riders in the Park City Point 2 Point take much longer to cross the line.

Josh Murphree collects the red lantern award after completing his first P2P. Angie Harker/Selective Vision

Each year the P2P saves a special prize package for the Red Lantern, the final racer on course, recognizing the incredible effort of the rider who spent the longest time on their bike and persevered to the finish. This year Josh Murphree took home the Red Lantern prize who in his second attempt at the Point 2 Point finished the 75-mile course in 12 hours 52 minutes and looked surprisingly fresh doing so.

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Park City Point 2 Point Report – Park City, Utah

Local Boy Keegan Swenson Sets New Course Record at Point 2 Point and Gretchen Reeves Takes Her Second P2P Title

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

In it’s 8th year the Park City Point 2 Point continues to establish itself as a favorite of racers throughout the country. Over 75 miles, the Point 2 Point circumnavigates the resort town of Park City, Utah, traversing the Wasatch mountains and the two world-class ski resorts of Deer Valley and Park City/Canyons.

A classic fall scene greeted the riders as the maples of the Wasatch range speckled the 9,000 foot peaks with shades of red and yellow and temperatures on race day hovered in the mid-seventies. Overnight rains tamped down the dust on a landscape that hadn’t seen rain in almost 80 days.

Pro women roll off the start line. Photo by: Selective Vision

Pro women roll off the start line. Photo by: Selective Vision

Riders were twitching with anticipation as Fruit Loops, fired from a potato gun, rained from the sky signifying the start of the race.

And they were off, 350 riders of all experience levels, taking on the truly unique challenge of a course that’s 75-miles in length with a whooping 10,000 vertical feet of climbing spread across over 95% singletrack riding providing every rider a top-notch mountain bike adventure.

In the open men’s group everyone expected a showdown between Park City native Keegan Swenson (Cannondale), who also happens to be one of the United States top world cup racers, last year’s winner Rob Squire (Felt/Assos), and multi-year Point 2 Point runner-up Ben Sonntag (Clif Bar).

Keegan Swenson leads Ben Sonntag not long before Swenson decides to go solo. Photo by: Selective Vision

Keegan Swenson leads Ben Sonntag not long before Swenson decides to go solo. Photo by: Selective Vision

The trio didn’t disappoint as the created a clear separation early in the race and continued to power away from the chasers.

Around mile 32, the three leaders approached the base of the Team Big Bear climb, the steepest of the race’s early climbs, Swenson’s pace opened a slight gap that Sonntag was unable to cover. Squire attacked around the Clif Bar rider in an effort to close the gap but the separation stayed.

“I felt it might be a little early for me to be on my own,” Swenson shared after the finish, “But I figured if I kept Robbie off my wheel on the descents and didn’t let him follow my line I could keep putting time on him.”

The strategy seemed to work as Swenson crushed the enduro segment by over a minute on Squire and Sonntag.

Cary Smith took the singlespeed title in Park City and finished in 6th overall.

Cary Smith took the singlespeed title in Park City and finished in 6th overall.

With some climbing mixed in, Swenson went to work on the John’s trail, Powerline, and Crescent Mine Grade descents and had over 8 minutes in hand by the time he reached the Park City feedzone at mile 55. Still looking fresh with an all-but-insurmountable gap all that was left for the young Cannondale phenom was the course record, set by his teammate and 6-time Point 2 Point winner Alex Grant, of 6:16:31.

Meanwhile, Squire was doing his best to hold off Sonntag. Powering through the climbs, the defending champ was looking good until a high-speed rock garden on the Crescent Mine Grade descent stopped him dead with two flat tires. He used his only CO2 cartridge to air up the rear but was forced to ride a flat front tire the rest of the way down to the feedzone at Park City. He was still holding onto the second spot at this point but Sonntag came and left the Park City feed while Squire’s bike was still in the repair stand.

Once his tires were aired up Squire remounted and produced an all out chase but Sonntag knows how to pace himself and had plenty left in the tank to punch through the final 20 miles and hold off Squire to the finish.

Out front most of the day, Keegan Swenson steered clear of any trouble and hammered his way through the final sections of the course in record time. He crossed the line 15 minutes in front of second place with an incredible finish time of 6:11:04 to take home the $2,000 race winner’s purse plus an extra $100 for posting the fastest time in the enduro segment.

Keegan Swenson looking relaxed after laying down an unbelievable time in his hometown of Park City. Photo by: Selective Vision

Keegan Swenson looking relaxed after laying down an unbelievable time in his hometown of Park City. Photo by: Selective Vision

Sonntag crossed the line with a time that would have won in 2015 of 6:26:00. Rob Squire put his misfortune behind him for third place at 6:33:17.

Behind the leaders, Point 2 Point veteran Sam Sweetser (Cole Sport) was putting on a clinic on overcoming adversity. Somewhere around the horribly steep Steps climb, about mile 45, Sweetser felt his saddle break. “I could feel it crack and start to sag in the middle but it was still rideable,” Sweetser later relayed.

Just a mile or two later Sweetser stood on a climb and when he sat down the saddle was gone and only rails remained. “I tried to stand for the whole climb up and around Shadow Lake but at some point you just have to sit again.”

So for the next 10 miles the Cole Sport rider made-do with metal rails for a seat until he reached the Pack City feed and a friend quickly swapped the saddle of his bike for Sweetser’s.

Sweetser said the next 20 miles were the toughest of any Point 2 Point he has done but he proved strong enough to hold off David Krimstock (Giant) for fourth.

The Flynn Twins charging to the finish. George leads Bart through some final sections of single track. Photo by: Selective Vision

The Flynn Twins charging to the finish. George leads Bart through some final sections of single track. Photo by: Selective Vision

Carbondale, Colorado, rider Krimstock took fifth just in front of the Flynn twins, George and Bart, who sprinted for the finish crossing less than a second apart respectively.

The women’s group packed equal punch with previous winner Gretchen Reeves (Tokyo Joe’s), multi-year runner-up Marlee Dixon (Pivot/DNA Cycling), Canada’s U23 national champion in 2011 Mikaela Kofman (Ridebiker/Liv), reigning collegiate cyclocross national champion Sofia Gomez-Villafane, and local speedster Nicole Tittensor (Scott).

The front group formed quickly after the start with Kofman, Reeves, Dixon, and Gomez-Villafane establishing an early lead.

Gretchen Reeves leads Mikaela Kofman at mile 30. Photo by: Selective Vision

Gretchen Reeves leads Mikaela Kofman at mile 30. Photo by: Selective Vision

Kofman and Reeves would break away to form a lead group surging ahead on the climbs and rollers in Round Valley and on their way to Deer Valley Resort.

At the first aid station the leaders held a solid lead with Reeves looking fresh and cruising through the feedzone while Kofman made a stop to fill her bottle.

The leaders then attacked the Team Big Bear climb where Kofman was able to all but close the gap to Reeves before the next feedzone at Guardsman Pass when Kofman again stopped and appeared a bit stressed to catch back up to the leader.

She wouldn’t see Reeves again however.

Into the singletrack descending portion of the course the Tokyo Joe’s rider appeared in her element as she stretched the gap behind her.

Marlee Dixon grinds out a few of the P2P's 10,000 vertical feet of climbing on her way to a second place finish. Photo by: Selective Vision

Marlee Dixon grinds out a few of the P2P’s 10,000 vertical feet of climbing on her way to a second place finish. Photo by: Selective Vision

At this point Kofman started to slowly drift back in the pack, appearing to suffer from her early efforts. Marlee Dixon, who was riding a hardtail, caught and passed her on the punishing Steps trail ascent.

Kofman still held onto third position as she hit mile 55 at the Park City feedzone.

Gretchen Reeves was long gone however. At Park City she had over 9 minutes on Marlee Dixon and kept the hammer down pulling further ahead with each mile.

By the end, Reeves would claim her second Point 2 Point title by just over 16 minutes with a time of 7:34:52. The Avon, Colorado, rider posted on Facebook later that the Point 2 Point is the toughest single-day race she has done.

Marlee Dixon powered through the finishing miles of the race to take another second place at Canyons Resort with a time of 7:49:59 and a $100 bonus for winning the enduro segment.

At this point the only question left to answer was where Mikaela Kofman would end up.

As the crowd looked on, they would first see Sofia Gomez-Villafane crisscross her way down the mountain to take the third spot.

Next would come the bright orange helmet of Nicole Tittensor, who wasn’t in the early lead group, but climbed her way into the mix finally moving into the fourth spot as Kofman struggled to find the finish line.

Big smiles from Gretchen Reeves after taking her second P2P title. Photo by: Selective Vision

Big smiles from Gretchen Reeves after taking her second P2P title. Photo by: Selective Vision

Finally, 18 minutes after Tittensor crossed the line Mikaela Kofman came in to finish off the podium in fifth spot.  It took a big effort from the tiny Ridebiker rider that was enough to finally get her home and still on the podium.

After the crossing the line riders and spectators spread out onto the lush lawn surrounding the finishing shoot at Canyons Resort. Both exhausted and elated, riders of all levels spun tales of their shared 75-mile struggles over free drinks and meals provided by the event organizers. After 8 years, the quality of the Park City Point 2 Point remains high; from the racecourse to the volunteers and race organizers, this five-star event keeps packing in the participants year after year.

Jon Russell was all smiles all day but especially at the finish line. Photo by: Selective Vision

Jon Russell was all smiles all day but especially at the finish line. Photo by: Selective Vision

Registration for the 2017 Park City Point 2 Point starts in February. The event has sold out in under 10 minutes that past 6 years so get ready when the exact date is announced.

Click Here for Full Point 2 Point Results

Click Here for Full Enduro Segment Results 

 

Park City Point 2 Point

Rob Squire and Evelyn Dong Take Down Point 2 Point

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Once again the Park City Point 2 Point lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest endurance races in the west. 78 miles, 90% singletrack, 12,000 feet of elevation gained, and stacked fields make the Point 2 Point a serious brute of a race and a major accomplishment for all who finish. Most riders will tell you racing the Point 2 Point makes the Leadville 100 seem easy.

The 7am start was unusually warm this year. Blustery winds made pack riding popular in the opening miles of the race.

After the first hour, a lead group of 12 riders took up the front of the open men’s race. As riders started the long, slow climb up to Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Lodge Hincapie Racing rider Rob Squire made the first acceleration of the day, jumping around a pack of riders on a short section of road and putting in a hard effort on the following climb.

Squire’s “test” of the leaders proved to be a major selection as he quickly built a lead on the way to Silver Lake and kept the hammer down using his impressive climbing speed to open a sizable gap on the hour-long climb through Deer Valley.

Justin Lindine (Competitive Cyclist) proved to be Squire’s closest competition but struggling with a softening tire for part of the day insured he would not be able to close the gap on the lone leader which stood at 9 minutes after the Park City feed zone just 22 miles from the finish.

Josh Tostado putting in a hard effort to catch Justin Lindine. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Josh Tostado putting in a hard effort to catch Justin Lindine. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

At that point Lindine was feeling a threat to his own position coming from a hard-charging Josh Tostado (Santa Cruz). Tostado had Lindine in his sight at the base of the day’s final big climb up Armstrong trail.

Shortly after leaving Park City Resort the Point 2 Point unleashed some added brutality on the racers as a brief storm dropped temperatures 20 degrees and pelted the lead riders with hail and rain.

Freak hailstorms weren’t enough to slow down Rob Squire as he powered through the final miles of singletrack, so cold he couldn’t feel his fingers on the brake levers.

Squire crossed the line with a time of 6:32:29 and claimed his $2,000 for the win. Over 12 minutes ahead of Justin Lindine who surged in the final portions of the race to maintain his position.

That left three riders to battle for third place, which all came down to the final mile before the finish. With just minutes left to race Drew Free (Revolution) occupied the third position with Josh Tostado just behind him and Park City resident Sam Sweetser (Cole Sport) bearing down on them both.

Aaron Campbell throwing down a big effort on the enduro segment just 5 months after breaking his femur. Photo by: Angie Harker

Aaron Campbell throwing down a big effort on the enduro segment just 5 months after breaking his femur. Photo by: Angie Harker

Sweetser had planned a late charge from the day’s start and the race was unfolding according to his plans. Shortly after making contact with Tostado the Santa Cruz rider dropped his chain and was forced to pull over. This allowed Sweetser to sprint past quickly bridging up to Free.

“I saw Sam coming for me,” Drew Free shared after the race. “I knew there was one short little climb before the finish and I sprinted up that pretty confident that I would leave Sam behind. At the top I looked behind again thinking he would be gone but he was passing me!”

With the finish line just ahead Sam Sweetser wrested third place from Drew Free and crossed the line just 10 seconds clear of the Revolution rider with Tostado crossing the line 11 seconds later.

Evelyn Dong handles the roots and everything else at the 2015 Point 2 Point. Photo by: Angie Harker

Evelyn Dong handles the roots and everything else at the 2015 Point 2 Point. Photo by: Angie Harker

The women’s race had a very different feel. With several of the best ultra-endurance racers in the country on hand, there was no clear favorite at the start.

Fresh off a win at the Breck Epic, Evelyn Dong (Sho-Air/Cannondale) was clearly in good condition but so was Sonya Looney (Freakshow Defeet) who recently won the Rincon de Viaja 100-miler in Costa Rica.

To confuse things even more, the field included Marlee Dixon (Pivot/Epic Brewing) who finished second at Breck Epic taking a stage win in front of Dong. Also sure to be in the mix was Steamboat Springs rider Kelly Boniface (Moots) and locals Sarah Kaufmann (Stan’s NoTubes) and Meghan Sheridan (UtahMountainBiking.com).

Sonya Looney got off to a great start. Opening up a lead early on in the winding singletrack of Round Valley. Unfortunately for her, about 45 minutes in she followed an open men’s rider off course and lost about 5 minutes before returning to the missed corner.

Her misdirection dropped her back in the field and allowed Evelyn Dong to get out front.

Once the climbing started Dong was in her element. A long-time resident of Park City the Sho-Air rider has spent hours and hours riding the limitless singletrack of Park City and polishing her climbing skills. Once out front she used her light, high-cadence climbing style to stretch the gap on her competitors.

Few can match Dong’s climbing speed especially at altitude and it showed as she quickly made her way through much of the open men’s field who had started 2 minutes in front of her.

Behind the leader Colorado riders Marlee Dixon and Kelly Boniface were once again locked in battle as they both crested the climb out of Deer Valley within seconds of each other.

Looney was solidly in 4th position now with Meghan Sheridan in 5th.

By the time riders reached Park City Resort Evelyn Dong had increased her lead but now Marlee Dixon occupied second place just in front of Boniface.

Kelly Boniface sits in 2nd exiting the Deer Valley climb. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Kelly Boniface sits in 2nd exiting the Deer Valley climb. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Neither Colorado rider had anything left to chase down Evelyn Dong who was too far out front and eventually crossed the line with a nine minute advantage.

Marlee Dixon used the final 22 miles from Park City to the Canyons to open up a slim one-minute advantage over Boniface to finish second with Boniface taking third.

Sonya Looney stayed steady in fourth all the way to the finish.

NoTubes rider Sarah Kaufmann showed good form late in the race, overtaking Meghan Sheridan for the final podium position.

For the second year the Point 2 Point featured a mid-race enduro segment that included one of the long downhill sections on course. Justin Lindine took the title in the open men’s race while Marlee Dixon claimed the title for the women. Each racer took home $100 for the win.

Click Here for full results from all categories 

Click Here for full enduro results from all categories