With the start of the 24th edition of the Insight Race Across America set to begin on June 19, it's expected that the 3000 mile/4900 km ultra-endurance event will be a battle between Slovenian military man, Jure Robic, and the quietly spoken software engineer, Mike Trevino, of Fort Dodge, Iowa. Trevino proved last year that he has the endurance, and with his 25.7 mph (41 km/h) average speed for the 273 mile (437 km) crossing of Iowa on May 9, he also has the speed. But Robic is the UCMA 24 hour world record holder* on the road, having ridden 522 miles (835 km) in September last year, and may have the upper hand with his endurance.
Among the veterans, Rob Kish (50) of Port Orange, Florida, will compete in his 20th consecutive RAAM this year. Two old rivals of Kish's have entered and will aim to make his 20th race a close-fought one. Bob Breedlove (53) of Des Moines, Iowa, and David Kees (50) Grass Valley, California, compete in Kish's age bracket, and there may be some old scores to settle. Breedlove finished second to three-time winner Kish in 1994.
On the other end of the age spectrum, 18 year-old Ben Couturier from Anchorage, Alaska, is hoping to become RAAM's youngest finisher, bettering the Chris Kostman, who set the record in 1987 aged 20.
The women will be represented by Catharina Berge, of Uppsala, Sweden (and more recently Visalia, California) who will be the sole entrant in the female field. A very strong competitor, Berge may finish among the top 10 men. Berge is not the only female competitor in RAAM, as the mixed two-person division features Lubbock, Texas, residents Shanna Armstrong and Dr. Guy Wells. Armstrong (30) was the 2003 Ultraman world champion, and has competed in 11 Ironmans since 1999.
Equally impressive are grandparents, Marvin and Pamela Atwood, aged 54 and 52, respectively, who become the first known husband/wife grandparents to compete in RAAM, riding for the Landis Cycles team out of Phoenix, Arizona.
* British rider Andy Wilkinson has actually officially ridden further in 24 hours, holding the British record at 525 miles.
More information: www.raceacrossamerica.org