By Zayne Braun
Hot weather conditions in the week prior to the Wilderness 101 resulted in a fast, dry, technical course, and racers took advantage of these conditions on the single loop course to set three course records in round five of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) held in State College, Pennsylvania.
Jeremiah Bishop (Trek/Volkswagon), Harlan Price (Independent Fabrication), Tinker Juarez (Cannondale), Josh Tostado (Giant/Smith/Dakine/Redbull/Michelin), Sam Koerber (Pro Bikes), Brandon Draugelis (Bear Naked/Cannondale), and Shawn Adams (October Research/Lake Effect) battled for the top podium spot as part of an elite group that escaped in the first 20 miles (32.2km) and never looked back. Chris Eatough (Trek / VW) was expected to race, but changed his mind after not recovering fully from winning the US 24 hour solo championships the previous weekend.
Bishop and Price eventually escaped the rest. "This was a really tough race due to the caliber of riders present, and especially daunting knowing that Bishop was here," said Price, last year's winner of the Wilderness 101. "I knew I had good legs and felt Bishop and I were working pretty well together. I would move to the front of the group on the long climbs and set a hard tempo. When it got quiet, I figured that it was fast enough."
Bishop, who won the pro cross country at the NMBS last weekend in Sugar Mountain, North Carolina, and Price continued to push each other and extend their lead, until a minor mechanical caused Price to drop off the pace about 20 miles to the finish. "I just couldn't close the gap," said Price. "I kept him in sight after that, but when we hit the railbed I could see him getting smaller and smaller in the distance."
Bishop's attack launched him to the win and the course record in a time of six hours 52 minutes, beating the old course record of 6 hours 59 minutes set by Chris Eatough in 2005. Price crossed the line second five minutes back, with the second fastest course time. Rounding out the podium were Juarez, Draugelis, and Koerber.
Price's second moved him into second place overall ahead of Shawn Adams (October Research / Lake Effect) while Eatough retains his series lead. Wes Schempf (Visit PA.com) set the singlespeed record in 7:49:32.
Betsy Shogren (WV F29er/Cannondale) rode away with the win, but not until after a prolonged battle with Trish Stevenson (Pro Bikes). "I thought I got rid of her several times, but every time I looked back there she was," Shogren said of Stevenson. "Finally, I guess I was able to make one stick. I still was constantly looking back, but fortunately I didn't see her again."
Shogren's winning time of eight hours and 35 minutes set another course record. Rounding out the top five were Carey Lowery (Outdoor Store), Erica Tieszen (Giant/Smith/Dakine/Redbull/Michelin), and Michelle Schneider (VisitPA.com). Lowery leapfrogged over Musto into the women's series lead, while Tieszen jumped seven places into third.
The series will conclude at the Shenandoah Mountain 100 in Virginia on the first weekend in September, but the next stop is the Endurance 100 in Utah on August 25.
For full coverage of the Wilderness 101, click here.