Big Bear 75k Race Report

JULY 23, 2016

Kenda NUE Marathon Race Series #6

Presented by Hammer Nutrition 

By Ryan O’Dell

The third annual NUE Big Bear Grizzly 100 race course received its inspiration from the infamous Terrible 10,000, a ride the local endurance hammerheads have been doing for years. This year’s race included racers from seven different countries and twenty different states. It also rewarded racers with NUE Race Series points for the first time as part of the new NUE Marathon Race Series.

The race kicked off a week-long cycling festival organized by Big Bear Valley Race Association teamed up with the Big Bear Cycling Association and the City of Big Bear Lake. Big Bear Cycling Association promotes the Tour de Big Bear this next weekend with an anticipated 2000 riders.

Located at 7000 feet above sea level, the charming tourist town of Big Bear has long had a solid reputation as a cycling destination, attracting visitors from the LA Valley and hosting some of the largest national events over many years. Nearby ski resorts offer lifts for cyclists during the summer months accessing the newly developed Skyliner Trail. New Belgium Brewing offered several variety’s of draft brews throughout the day in the beer garden welcoming weary racers and fans with malty, hoppy goodness.

 Women’s Open – Giovane wins!

Sophie Giovane was the first woman across the line at 5:21:14. Ten minutes later, Stacy Forcino was second at 5:31:22. Kathryn Lockwood from Dana Point was third at 5:48:05. Three minutes later, Mandy Oliekan was fourth at 6:08:54.

Men’s Open – Forcino with the W!

Romolo Forcino took the Men’s Open 75k at 4:15:43. Trolis Niebla came in second at 4:57:54.

“The race was epic. I tried not to go too hard at the start and save something for Radford. When we hit the decent from Grand View Point I was sitting third with fourth place on my wheel. I had heard the descent was knarly so I let him by and took it slow. I’m glad I did because the middle of that descent was crazy technical (especially since that was my first time on it).

Once we hit the bottom, I pushed a tough tempo thru the rollers up to the SART. I was able to catch third by the start of the SART. I rode his wheel through the single track and recovered some through this section, ready to go by Radford. I hit the gas at the bottom of Radford and dropped fourth place. Towards the top of Radford I could finally see second place and caught him at the top. When I passed him, I tried to sprint by so that he would not try to suck my wheel.

On the Skyline single track (which I know well), I hit the gas. Once we hit the second part of Skyline I could no longer see the third place racer behind me anymore. On Skyline, I was stopped by a rescue helicopter. I had to hike up a steep incline to the fire road and then back down to Skyline to get around it. This was exhausting and I was panicking about getting caught. After that detour, I pushed it all the way to the finish. It was a super fun and tough day. Glad to have finished second and already looking forward to next year!”

Three minutes later, Scott Pontzer captured third at 5:02:44. Collin Drake was fourth at 5:29:13.

Rob Marquart rolled in just six minutes later to take fifth at 5:35:36.


Single Speed Open – Mulka wins the SS!

26 year old Mark Mulka from Columbus, Ohio won the SS race coming in at 6:41:56.

53 year old Raulie Tarango from Fawnskin, CA was second at 7:08:40.


Masters 50+ Open – Whittmore wins the Masters!

51-year-old Joe Whittmore from Murrieta, CA took the top spot to finish in 6:00:39. “What a great event! This was my second year racing the Grizzly. Last year I competed in the 100K and decided I didn’t have the fitness for that distance this year, so I signed up for the 75K.

The event is very well supported with several (themed) aid stations that are placed at just the right distance apart. Great volunteers and support staff.

I’m from So CA and love the different trails that comprise the course. SART and Skyline rank at the top of my all-time favorite single track trails. If I had to sum up the race with one word it would be “Radford!”  The Radford road climb is a difficult climb on a good day, but start the 5.7 mile, 2500 ft. climb at mile 30 (at race pace) on a hot summer day and you’re in for a huge challenge, both physically and mentally. The conversation among most racers, post-race, begins and ends with how they did on Radford. Overall a great event! I am looking forward to next year!”

55-year-old Jeff Peterson from Mission Viejo was next, placing second at 6:27:23.

60-year-old Doug Benedon from Agoura, CA was third at 6:48:05. “This my third year participating in the event and I’ll keep coming back (legs and lungs permitting).  Everything about this event is first-class. The organization (registration, volunteer’s course markings, aid stations) is professional and friendly.

The course itself is unbeatable. There is a great mix of single track and fire roads, all of which seems to be pointed uphill. But when things really get tough, and they do, you can soak up the beauty of the surrounding mountains. This is a must do event for anyone looking to challenge and reward themselves on a mountain bike. There are also shorter distances for riders wanting to challenge themselves and get a taste of the event before taking on the longer distances. These riders enjoy the same first-class treatment as the NUE riders, so come one, come all!”


NUE Marathon Race Series #7, Pierre’s Hole 100k in Alta, Wyoming on August 6