Photos by Kai Caddy (@kaicaddy)
The 2021 Arkansas High Country Race follows a 1,030-mile route along the perimeter of Adventure Cycling Association’s Arkansas High Country Route, which was published in 2019. Starting from Fayetteville, cyclists traverse the Ozark Mountains east to the Buffalo National River Corridor, and then south into the Arkansas River Valley. From the River Valley, riders head west through the Ouachita Mountains with sizeable climbs and rollercoaster ridges before climbing back north through the Ozark Mountains to the finish line in Fayetteville.
Scotti Lechuga is no stranger to the route, having previously set a team record with her husband, Ernie Lechuga, in 2019 (5 days, 18 hours, and 24 minutes) and then again as a pair in 2020 (4 days, 22 hours, 5 minutes). This year, Scotti was racing in the solo category and was at the front end of the race the entire time. Just a few days ago, she was in third place, 50 miles behind the leaders, and already on track to beat the women’s record. Front runner Spencer Ralston was also on his way to setting a fastest known time but dropped out 45 miles from the finish due to some mechanicals and soaking wet clothing after riding through a thunderstorm. Next to drop out was Josh Allen, after some problematic saddle sores became too much to handle. Word is he tried getting creative with baby wipes and socks and spent some time naked in the forest attempting to dry things out.
Scotti settled into first, despite heavy rain and peanut butter mud, and held her position all the way to the finish line in downtown Fayetteville last night. Her official time is 5 days, 10 hours, and 49 minutes—setting a new women’s fastest known time and becoming the first finisher of the 2021 Arkansas High Country Race. Congrats, Scotti! Stay tuned for more stories from the event…
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