12 Hours of Mesa Verde – Cortez, CO

The 12th Annual 12-Hours of Mesa Verde (Cortez, Colorado) welcomed perfect weather after two years of being cursed by the weather gods.  Approximately 850 racers from more than a dozen states traveled to the small town of Cortez, Colorado, on the race’s traditional Mother’s Day weekend to race the world renowned Phil’s World trail system.  Racing Mom’s were honored with a special ribbon on their bike.

Enduro racer Krista Rust was a last minute replacement for the top 3-person female team. It’s been years since she last raced XC luckily she had her 2010 26 inch Cannonade hardtail. Photo by: Barak Naggan High Desert Photography

For the past eleven years the race has used the same course, however this year the course was altered, and lengthened, due to some land ownership issues.  The new course eliminated some techy, rocky sections and added some fast, flowy sections that kept racers full throttle for the duration of the 18-mile course.

In the Men’s Solo race Josh Tostado (Santa Cruz/Shimano/Maxxis) led from start to finish, but not without some pressure from Christoph Heinrich (Kuhl).  In the end, Tostado completed 8 laps in a time of 11:29:06.  Heinrich also completed 8 laps with a time of 11:44:28.

Josh Tostado gets some air on his way to a solo win. Photo by: Barak Naggan High Desert Photography

The Women’s Solo race was dominated by Shirley Leydsman (Team Red Rock).  Leydsman, a former triathlete and road cyclist, changed her focus to mountain biking in 2016 at the age of 45.  Leydsman simple goal of enjoying riding her bike all day helped her capture a convincing win at her first attempt at 12 Hours of Mesa Verde.  She completed 7 laps in 11:35:56.  Her closes competitior was Sara Sheets (Oskar Blues) who also completed 7 laps in 12:02:22.

Bettina Mills, racing in the 3-4 person Co-Ed category posted the fastest women’s lap with a 1:21:39 and Nick Gould (OG’s) put down the fastest men’s lap (1:12:39) helping his team secure 2nd place in the Men’s 3-4 person category.

Shirley Leydsman has been chewing up the competition this season. Photo by: Barak Naggan High Desert Photography

After the race, athletes were treated to a huge pasta dinner hosted by local restaurant, Lotsa Pasta and a free beer along with a raffle and awards for all categories.

Not only does 12 Hours of Mesa Verde offer up a great day of epic racing, proceeds of the event go to support Cortez’s at-risk youth.  In 2016 $55,100 was donated to this great cause.  The race board hopes that this years great turn out will increase that amount!

Click Here for full results from all categories 

Jen Hanks enjoys some airtime on her way to a win in the 2-person female event. Photo by: Barak Naggan High Desert Photography