Situated in Teton Valley Idaho on the Wyoming border, Pierre’s Hole 50/100 is a new race with a new format. The offering one course, two races formats. The 50 miler for those testing themselves in distance racing without the 100 mile commitment, and a 100 mile distance for the usual suspects. The 100 mile course, with 17,200 feet of climbing, is designed to test the climbing legs and mountain bike skills requiring a complete package in a rider.
The race went off only minutes off the targeted 6:30 AM start. We started early hoping to give everyone the opportunity to finish by making the Teton Canyon cutoff time of 6:30 PM. Under brightening skies and start temperatures hovering around 40 degrees F, all pondered what the day would bring in the form of precipitation and temperature rise. The forecast was not only for pain, but for snow, wind, hail, and colder than normal temperatures.
From the gun 100 mile veterans Jeff Kerkove and Cary Smith hit the start loop climb with a furious pace dragging with them experienced riders Nathan Miller of Park City and Mike Wolf of Helena, MT as well as the strongman team of Aaron Nydam and Ben Aufderhide from Jackson, WY.
Smith, racing the 50 mile distance on his single speed, came out of the famed Rick’s Basin single track loop, into the base area, and headed towards lightening ridge with a slim 20 second lead over Kerkove. The next group consisted of the rest of the fast men a minute back. Kerkove and Smith would chase one another up lightening ridge and descend the 1400 VF drop of single track, Mill Creek, to Teton Canyon without much change in the time gap. Teton Canyon aid station #2, stocked with Hammer Products, would be blown by as both riders hit the Ski Hill road climb up to Bustle Creek 900 VF above. Following another 900 VF drop and a 1400 VF climb the two riders would remain close with all others chasing. Topeak/Ergon rider Sonya Looney would sit in the middle of this 100 mile group and establish a large gap to the other woman on the first lap. Meanwhile the second race within the race was taking form with Troy Olson and Dave Bergart of Teton Valley staying close to Smith with a blistering first lap of 2hrs 10minutes.
The 50-mile women would have local heavy -hitters Amy Fulwyler, Robin McGee, Kate Lynch, and Jill Damman putting in sub three hour laps. Fulwyler , recently coming on strong as a climber and descender, came through on her first lap in front of all but five 50-mile men. As the race moved into the second lap, the temperatures graced us with a small rise at the start/finish, but a 10 degree increase at the lower parts of the course. The ladies all great friends, teammates from time to time, and vicious competitors over the years continued to climb aggressively, descend with confidence and speed, and smile all the while. Riding on sheer will, McGee made up several minutes on Fulwyler the second lap, and Lynch rode her second rode climb about 2 minutes faster than the first lap. When asked what she thought about the race afterwards, Dammon stated that she had an absolute blast the entire time. Lynch, standing by, chuckled and commented that she wasn’t sure she could say that she could fully agree, but it was an amazing course, well organized, with tremendous support, and she was glad that it was over.
The Martz family from Kewaskum, WI put the entire family on the line with Mom, Dad, fourteen year old Sam , and younger brother Jeff all racing for bragging rights. Although the course would take it’s toll on the whole family they all repeated that they would be back next year to challenge themselves again.
Smith would continue to race strong and notch himself the victory in the 50-mile distance with a time of 4 hours and 10 minutes. Smith would be followed to the line by Troy Olson (+20minutes), Mike Piker, Travis Ward, and Dave Bergart. The woman would see a real battle at this distance with Amy Fulwyler taking the win at 5 hours and 12 minutes, followed by Robin McGee, Jill Daman and Kate Lynch.
The top 50-mile team of Tim Bradshaw and Tom Hedges would post a combined effort of 6 hours and 22 minutes to win this division.
With the 50-mile race closing the 100-mile group would only be entering their second half of the race. At the mid point teammates Kerkove and Looney would take solid leads going into the second 50. Miller from Park City would find himself at a 13 minute deficit to Kerkove. While Looney would have a commanding 1 hour 15 minute lead over first time 100 miler Carmen Messina.
In the 100 mile team race Aaron Nydam and Ben Aufderhide would find themselves challenging the clock to break nine hours with the goal of the coveted silver belt buckle. They would miss their mark by merely 2 minutes and 15 seconds vouching to come back next year and challenge for the loot.
While the race was working it-self out Mother Nature had other plans by unleashing winds and rain. The rain frequently changed over to hail and moments of snow squalls followed again by sun.
Ultimately, the hard men of the 100 mile would ride through the adversity and Kerkove would come across the line first at 9 hours and 17 minutes followed by Miller at 9:36. Wolf of Missoula would arrive an hour off of Millers pace. The women would see Looney run the full course in 10 hours and 40 minutes with Messina finishing in her person goal, through hail and snow, of under 13 hours with grace and composure.
Racers of both disciplines would find a warm post race meal at the base area and local organically brewed beer to wash it down. With smiles of accomplishment and stories of the pain cave energizing the air, the first Battle of Pierre’s Hole became a huge success. See you all that missed the race in 2009 this year in August.
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