Photos by Rugile Kaladyte (@rugilekaladyte)
On April 12th, ultra-endurance athlete Lael Wilcox set off on an individual time trial of the Arizona Trail 800 (AZT 800) route, which spans 827 miles across the state of Arizona from the US-Mexico border to the Utah border. The route is remote and technical and requires riders to strap their bikes to their backs and hike more than 20 miles through the Grand Canyon.
On Thursday evening, Lael completed her northbound ride of the route in just 9 days, 8 hours, and 23 minutes (9:8:23), setting an outstanding new fastest known time on the route. The previous fastest known times were held by Nate Ginzton (9:10:44) and Chase Edwards (10:18:59), both in 2021.
Later, the Arizona Trail Race’s Instagram account posted that Lael’s time “will be noted, but not recognized as the record” for violating one of the rules laid out on their website. Like other bikepacking ultra-endurance races, the underlying rule is that riders must be fully self-reliant with no outside support, but many of these ultras have their own additional rules. One such rule set by the AZTR race director is “no media crews,” and there was one documenting her ride.
However, it’s worth noting that Lael’s ride was not a part of the annual grand depart, where riders agree to rules set in place by the organizer(s), and the fact that it will be noted with an asterisk on the Arizona Trail Race’s record books doesn’t diminish the fact that her extraordinary ride was an impressive and inspiring feat that’s well worth celebrating.
Head over to Lael’s Instagram feed to read updates from during her ride. Congrats, Lael!
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