On Sunday over 200 cyclists participated in the Wilmington/Whiteface 100 K race. While some were hoping just to complete the challenging 57-mile course, others were aiming to qualify for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race (LT100). People from all walks of life competed in this event, from professionals to Olympic athletes.
The Leadville 100 was created in 1994 and participants previously had to gain access by using a lottery system; now, athletes hoping to complete in the prestigious race can qualify through one of the qualifying races in Wilmington, Tahoe, and Crested Butte. Each of the three races allow 100 racers to qualify for spots in the LT 100; 50 of these slots are based on age group performance, while the other 50 with a drawing among the athletes who finished within the time standard. Wilmington’s race, along with the other two in the western part of the country, is one of the inaugural races, as 2011 is the first year ever to allow athletes to qualify.
The Leadville qualifying series and the LT 100 in general, are not your typical cycling races. “The Leadville Trail 100 is a mountain bike race but unlike typical races in this discipline, technically demanding single track is lacking and there is a good amount of pavement and relatively smooth and tame gravel and dirt roads. Indeed, the Leadville Trail 100 has been described as a road race on mountain bikes”, said David Weins, six-time Leadville champion and the race’s technical director. A variety of riding surfaces make the race both challenging and fun.
There were a few minor celebrities racing in Sunday’s race; a local Olympian and a NFL player were among the athletes on the trails. Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, NY is a 2010 men’s singles luge Olympian, and came in with a time of 5:52:20. Filip Filipovic, an NFL punter who has played with the Dallas Cowboys, secured a time of 6:22:40.
The winner of the race was Jeremiah Bishop of Harrisburg, Virginia, who rocketed through the course with a time of 3:33:34. “I finished faster than I thought. Going into the race I was forecasting a sub four-hour race, so this is pretty exciting. The last part of the course, climbing Whiteface, was a real monster, but it was cool of them to put in the last 10K, which made for a good tactical race at the end and it kept us on our toes. Teamwork is what made today special and helped me get through the finish line first,” Bishop said. Coming in second was Bishop’s teammate Alex Grant (Salt Lake City, Utah), finishing 11.52 seconds behind, in 3:33:45. In third was Peter Glassford of Mansfield, Canada, with 3:37:35.
In the women’s field, the fastest racer was Susan Lynch of Medfield, Mass (4:51:14). “This is way cool, it was a great race,” Lynch commented. “I handled the climbs and the flats, but the downhills gave me troubles, I was hanging on pretty tight during those. I was hoping to get under five hours, so I’m very happy.” Nicole LaPlante (Peru, N.Y.) and Kristen Gohr (Reading, Mass.) were second and third, respectively, with times of 4:59:49 and 5:13:55.
More information on the Leadville racing series can be found online.