With the official start of spring – and lots of key races — right around the corner, the Sierra Endurance Sports athletes are kicking things into gear and have been taking full advantage of local/regional racing opportunities these past few weeks to get us prepped and ready for the bigger events to come!
On Sunday, Feb. 28th, several team members participated in the TBF MTB Madness race down in Granite Bay, CA. This was a four-lap, 32-mile mountain bike race on the traditional fast-running TBF loop. It was a great day for racing, with perfect weather and excellent trail conditions. Sierra Endurance Sports put on a strong showing in the expert/pro divisions, highlighted by an overall men’s win by David Duncan and a 2nd place pro women’s finish – just a hair shy of a win! — by Suzie Snyder.
David started off strong among the lead pack, and by the 4th and final lap he had dropped all but one competitor. Coming into the finish David was able to find the best line and put in a hard charge to earn his first pro win in a time of 2:01:10. Matt Balzer also made his way to the podium, placing 3rd in the men’s expert division with a time of 2:06:31. Not far behind him were teammates Craig Manning and Nate Brown, who worked together for much of the race, and finished strong in times of 2:12:52 and 2:14:58, respectively. Both said they were pleased with their race results.
“Overall, I was very happy with my time and performance kicking off the season,” said Nate. “Always room for improvement and looking forward to getting stronger and faster as the year unfolds!”
In the women’s race, Kara LaPoint and Suzie Snyder set the pace early among a lead group of five riders. Suzie was able to pull away, along with two other riders, on the first lap. By lap three, it was down to two riders at the front, Suzie and Julie Young of Team Ride Like A Girl, who stayed together and pushed each other all the way to the line. In the end Julie just out-nudged Suzie in an exciting sprint finish. This was a big milestone for Suzie, who has been working through a long recovery from a fractured pelvis, and had not been able to race since July 2015 until now! Kara was unable to finish the race due to a late mechanical.
Suzie had this to say about her race: “I had a blast at the TBF MTB race last weekend! The past seven months have been very frustrating with the delayed injury healing and a modified training routine, so I went into the race with very low expectations and just wanted to shake off the cobwebs. But once the gun went off, my competitive drive took over and I couldn’t help but push myself to stay with the lead women! It was a hard effort for the entire 2+ hours, but it hurt so good and I was surprised to be in a sprint finish for the win. Unfortunately I didn’t have the power to take first, but I’m happy with my effort and to know that I am back in business as the season gets underway!”
Team member Aimee Balzer came down and cheered the racers on, and snapped lots of great photos, as did Craig DeVita, the official TBF race photographer. Thanks to you both for capturing our day so well!
Then last weekend, three SES team members – Nate, Kara and JP Donovan, competed in the Great Ski Race, a 30-kilometer XC Ski race that goes from Tahoe City to Truckee. This is by far the biggest ski race in our region, with more than 450 finishers this year in very challenging conditions. Due to low snowpack on the lower part of the course, some sections had to be re-routed and there were a few sections where skiers had to take off their skis to skip over the dirt and rocks!
Kara had a very tight battle all the way to the line, fighting hard for the 2nd place overall female spot. In the end she was just out-tucked on the final downhill to the finish, missing 2nd place by just a half-second to take 3rd place overall female in a time of 1:47:05. Despite narrowly missing the next step up, Kara was happy to be on the podium in a competitive women’s field in her big hometown race, and even more pleased to get in such a good hard effort a few weeks out from the start of her Xterra racing season. Fellow mountain bike racer, and former XC ski Olympian, Katerina Nash took the overall women’s win.
In the men’s field, JP skied to 10th place in his age group, breaking the 2-hour mark in a time of 1:58:43. Nate finished 14th in his age group in 2:06:48.
Here is a little recap from Nate about his day: “I was super excited to participate in the Great Ski Race. Last time I raced was in 2012 as the race has been on hiatus since 2013 due to the lack of snow. … Race morning I was so excited and had butterflies in my stomach. It’s been a while since I felt that at a race and it was great to feel that way again. I was positioned in the second start corral, starting about 2 minutes behind the leaders. You start with a 12k climb and it’s pretty much down from there for the last 18 kilometers. I felt strong and confident on the climb! I did get stuck behind a couple slower skiers in the first mile and passing was a tad difficult but after that it was pretty much smooth sailing. The weather held out perfectly with a mix of sun and clouds and no significant snow, as had been forecasted. After passing Soup station #1 at the summit, you begin a nice long decent into Truckee. Things got tricky the last 10k or so with snow coverage being quite variable in certain sections. At one point we had to remove our skis and run on the road for about 50yds. I was feeling a bit tired that last 10k and was not skiing my best. At one point I fell in a mixture of slush, water, and mud. I landed with my arms up to my armpits in water and my right leg soaking wet. During this section I was passed by about four racers, which irritated me a little, but the harder I tried to catch them the more mistakes I made. The finish is down a long hill where the skiing is a little tricky and it was fun watching some of the skiers wipe out after finishing. I was thrilled to have finished and overall felt really good! I finished in 2:06 and rewarded myself with chocolate chip cookies and beer!”
Meanwhile, team member Cody Forman was racing at his first triathlon of the year, the Stanford Treeathlon, which is a modified sprint event. He had a great performance, finishing 6th overall in the collegiate division thanks to a very strong bike and run (5th fastest run leg of the day).
Congrats to all our team members who have raced these past couple weeks! There is lots more to come in the next few weeks, and we are very excited to keep on pushing and see what we can do out there!
Thanks for following along on our journey!