Words and photos by Jay Petervary (@jay_petervary)
Once again, the Fat Pursuit proved to be a challenge of great lengths. The 200-mile racers started last Friday at noon with good trails and moderate temperatures. They all moved well through the day’s obstacles of Harriman State Park singletrack, then down to Mesa Falls where they were rewarded with ice cream Snickers bars. Pedaling into and through the night, some made it to the 80-mile “water boil” checkpoint in the dark while others might have bivvied and reached it in daylight on Saturday.
While the 200-mile riders were fully immersed, the 200km race kicked off Saturday at 7:00 am. They had a beautiful start with a clear sky and stars shining that eventually opened up to an amazing sunrise. The bluebird morning was the calm before the storm, as it only lasted until early afternoon before the sky hazed over and eventually started spitting snow. That spit turned into a full-on snow storm and the added winds made for white out conditions. Depending on where riders found themselves on the course at that point, they were either grinding through barely rideable snow, pushing through unrideable sections, post holing through deep drifts, or just trying to navigate from one reflector to the next on the snow poles. A lot of folks had to do all that to make the finish.
The storm that started Saturday never really let up until Sunday afternoon, and even then only for a very brief moment before the next storm came in. The last rider eventually made it under the arch at about 2:30 am on Monday. In total, the storms probably dumped two feet of snow in the hills and had accompanying winds that made for deep drifts. Volunteers and race managers mostly come from an hour or two south of the venue, and we couldn’t get home as all the roads were closed, if that gives any indication of how intense the storm was. The 200-mile race finished with a sprint for the top two spots, both of whom more or less dodged the storm, as 3rd place and all the 200km finishers had push finishes. The ones who finished later had to push much more.
2019 Fat Pursuit Standings
1st – Kurt Refsnider, 27:39 (by a bike length)
2nd – Neil Beltchenko, 27:39
3rd – Chris Lowry, 35:03
No female finishers
1st male – Davey Mitchell, 17:00
2nd male – Greg Martin, 21:09
3rd male – Richard Cohen, 22:30
1st female and (3rd overall!) – Rebecca Rusch, 21:14
2nd female – Michelle Stampe, 34:42
*Mike Barklow was the first to do the event self-supported with a time of 47:49
Congratulations to all of the participants, and a shout out goes to all of the volunteers, including Jay, who went three days without sleep to make the Fat Pursuit happen.