The Breckenridge 100, arguably the most difficult race in the National Ultra Endurance series, rolls Saturday in the Rockies.
The fifth race in the 11-race NUE series is set mostly above 9,000 feet in Colorado and offers three Continental Divide crossings at altitudes surpassing 12,000 feet with a total of 13,700 feet of climbing.
The first loop sends racers up and over the famed Wheeler Pass. Due to record snowpack in the high country, racers may face a much more difficult crossing in the snowpack this year.
“The typical 30 meter snowfield may be 200 meters,” said Race Director Thane Wright.
After passing through the start/finish zone in Breckenridge’s Carter Park, racers head out for loop two, considered the most difficult of the three cloverleaf loops. Passing through Carter Park again, racers head out on loop three toward an aid station located on the Continental Divide at Boreas Pass. Racers must reach Boreas Pass by 4:30 p.m., the final cutoff. For racers able to make the cutoff, the reward is a ride on the historic flowing descent of the old flume —Gold Dust Trail, before a third crossing of the Continental Divide toward the finish at Carter Park.
In the Men’s Open division the question remains: Can anyone prevent local strongman Josh Tostado from winning his seventh-consecutive Breckenridge 100? Tostado won last year in 8:23:47 and holds the course record of 8:14:37 set in 2008.
To win his seventh crown at high altitude, Tostado (Bach Builders/Santa Cruz) will, again, face three- time reigning National Ultra Endurance Series champion Jeff Schalk, racing for Trek. Last year was a close race between the two until a couple of flats on the rocky descent from Wheeler pass, early in the race, took the defending champion out of contention.
“Local legend Josh Tostado absolutely owns this race winning every edition of the contest since its inception 7 years ago,” Wright said. “He has taken on all comers including Tinker Juarez, Jeff Schalk, Travis Brown and Evan Plews, to name a few…”
Earlier this season, Schalk and Tostado gave us a preview at NUE Series race #3, The Kenda Mohican 100 in Loudonville, Ohio. In Mohican country, Schalk found his legs and appeared to shake off the gremlins that derailed him early in the season, setting a new course record in the process for his third Mohican win, ahead of Tostado, who placed 5th in his only NUE Series race finish so far this year.
However, a new challenger has arisen from Michigan. Christian Tanguy (Team CF) is currently leading the NUE Series by one point with victories at Cohutta, Syllamo’s Revenge, and, most recently, on his home turf at The Lumberjack 100 in Michigan just two weeks ago.
Tanguy will be making an appearance in Summit County this year in an attempt to be the first to unseat Tostado and, in the process, win four NUE Series races this year. With six races remaining, including a late-season, back-to-back race at the Park City Point to Point in Park City, Utah followed by the Shenandoah 100 in Virginia, the next day, nothing is assured for Tanguy.
In the Women’s Open last year, Jari Kirkland (Team Alpine) of Crested Butte, set the bar for women at 9:59:07. Kirkland is also a record holder at Montezuma’s Revenge and the 24 Hours of Moab. Eszter Horanyi (Space Cowgirls) finished 10:20:49, however, so far, neither are registered for this year’s race.
Also noticeably absent from the roster, so far, are NUE reigning Champion, Amanda Carey, Kenda/Felt, who has three wins so far this year. 2008 NUE Women’s Champion, Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) currently leads the NUE Series with four finishes, including a second place finish at the Mohican 100.
Their absence could leave the door open for challengers, Laureen Coffelt, (Velosoul/The Natural Way) and Molly Wolf (Gore Bike Wear/Wheel Werks), both in the NUE top ten with three finishes so far this season and both registered for the race.
Single Speed Open
In the Singlespeed Division, two-time NUE single-speed reigning champion, Gerry Pflug, (Salsa/NoTubes/Pro Bikes) returns to the Breckenridge 100 after placing third last year, 47 minutes behind Mark Thompson (Wilderness Sports), of Breckenridge who took the top spot at 9:33:55 and Michael Melley (Landis/Red Rock) 10:17:22 of Chandler, Arizona.
Masters 50+ Open
Bill Holden (Holden Brothers) leads the NUE Series as the only racer with four finishes, including a fourth place finish at Syllamo’s Revenge in Mountain View, Arkansas this year.
With three finishes under his wheels, defending NUE Masters Champion, Robert Herriman (Trek 29er Crew/WSC/ACFSStores.com) is well on his way to a repeat with wins at the Mohican 100 and the Lumberjack 100. He has faced stiff competition this season in the form of Roger Masse (Trek 29er Crew) now just one point behind the defending champion with second place finishes at Cohutta, Mohican, and Lumberjack this year. However, none are currently registered for the Breckenridge race with just over a week remaining until registration closes. If any of these leaders decide to show, all bets are off.
Larry Dewitt (Pro Cycling) of Colorado Springs set the bar in the Men’s Masters at Breckenridge last year finishing in just 11:35:57.