Kris Sneddon, the winner of the first 2006 National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) Marathon race in Fountain Hills, AZ on March 24, traces his sharp early season form to an unlikely source - training with road riding ace Levi Leipheimer. "For two months before the Tour of California I was hiding out in Santa Rosa training with Levi," confesses Sneddon. "That guy trains really hard."
This certainly paid off for 24-year old Kris Sneddon of Team Kona/Les Gets, who would usually be training around his home in soggy British Columbia, as he won the men's pro Marathon race by nearly four minutes in a time of 3 hours, 37 minutes, 11 seconds. It still wasn't easy as Sneddon claims to have felt the desert heat which climbed to over 85 degrees during the race. "There was a lot of single track and it was constantly rolling out there. Not really any big climbs, but it never felt like you weren't tired. I also got super sunburned," said Sneddon.
Rounding out the pro men's top five were Troy Messeghers of Blairmore, AB in a time of 3:41:06, Travis Brown of Boulder, CO (Team Trek/VW) in a time of 3:43:07, Jay Henry of Avon, CO (Team Ford/Specialized) in a time of 3:44:12, and Ian Stanford of Winona, MN (Team Nature Valley) in a time of 3:50:19.
The first stop on the 2006 National Mountain Bike Series saw ninety-two riders toe the starting line - the largest field to date in an NMBS Marathon race. "The atmosphere was awesome, everyone was relaxed and helping each other out. I didn't have a feeder but some guy named Mike said 'I'll help you out!' The whole event was just like that," said Sneddon.
The women's pro field saw Jenny Smith of Gunnison, CO (Team Trek/VW) take the top spot on the podium with a time of 4 hours, 22 minutes, 35 seconds. Like Sneddon, she also felt the heat. "It was really hot! The course was very good, and I felt strong and comfortable until the last half of the last lap when I started cramping. The race was demanding because it was mainly single track. I just had to rise to the challenge," said first time Marathon racer, Jenny Smith. Smith, a native of New Zealand, has a background that includes extensive Xterra triathlon and cross-country mountain bike racing.
Rounding out the women's top five were Kylia Malenkovich of St. Cloud, MN in a time of 4:29:40, Kate Aardal of Elkford, CAN in a time of 4:32:57, Jennifer Wilson of El Paso, TX (Team Titus/Clif) in a time of 4:35:14, and Kristy Lanier-Mantz of Marlinton, WV (Team Dirtbean) in a time of 4:47:55.
The National Mountain Bike Series continues on May 5-7, at Southridge Park in Fontana, CA with downhill, cross country, short track, mountain cross, and Super D races that will count towards NMBS points.
2006 National Mountain Bike Series Schedule
May 5-7: Southridge Park, Fontana, CA - XC/ST/DH/MTX/SD
Jun 10-11: Sugar Mountain Resort, Banner Elk, NC - XC/ST/DH/DS/SD
Jun 17-18: Mount Snow Resort, West Dover, VT - XC/ST/DH/DS/SD/MTX
Jul 8-9: Deer Valley Resort, Park City, UT - XC/ST/DH/SD/DS/MA
Jul 15-16: Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, CA - MTX/XC/DH
Aug 5-6: Brian Head Resort, Brian Head, UT - DS/XC/DH/ST/SD/MA
Aug 12-13: Snowmass Resort, Aspen, CO - DS/XC/DH/ST/SD