USA Marathon Champion tames Firecracker 50

Marlee Dixon makes it two in a row at Breck

In what turned out to be a battle for the ages high in the Rocky Mountains, Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) edged out former Israeli Champion Rotem Ishay (Team Jamis Bikes). Taylor Schelden (Tokyo Joes) keep pace with the leaders for most of the first lap, but faded a bit on lap two and settled for a third-place finish. J.J. Clark (Pro Cycling) finished fourth nearly fifteen minutes off the winning time. Dana Weber (Stage 21 Cycling) took fifth place.

Breckenridge, Colorado precedes it's Fourth of July parade with the Firecracker 50 race. Hundreds of racers line up to compete on one of the toughest courses in America. It consists of two twenty-five mile laps, each starting with a six-mile climb up Boreas Pass Road. The racing takes place all above 9,600 feet elevation. The weather cooperated this year with temperatures mostly in the 70's.

Having an outstanding year with high finishes in the Epic Rides Series and a national championship victory over Howard Grotts (Specialized) in Arkansas, McElveen is on a roll. He and Grotts often train together at altitude in their adopted home of Durango, Colorado.

McElveen commented on the race, "The course was long and demanding, but the real challenge was the incredibly high elevation. I'm told the course was longer this year too. We solidified a lead group on the first lap with Rotem and Taylor Sheldon (Jelly Belly road rider who recently raced the Tour of California). Rotem was riding very strong, and has shown incredible form at the races he's attended all summer. He was riding impressively aggressively considering the high elevation, throwing lots of attacks on the first lap.

"I wasn't feeling amazing after coming off a big training block in Leadville, but knew that the course was so hard everyone would be on a similar level of fatigue on the second lap."

McElveen added, "I made my move on the extremely steep Little French climb, and then pinned it as hard as I could to the line. I so happy Rotem finished a strong second. He's like a brother to me, and has been instrumental in my development. Representing the National Champion's kit was a unique honour that I won't soon forget. It was extra sweet to cap off the day with a hard-fought win. I'll definitely be back for this one."

Breckenridge was a sea of people on race day, with thousands lining the streets. Behind the riders, dozens of floats were lined up for the July 4th parade.

Pro Women

Breckenridge resident Marlee Dixon (MTBracingnews.com-Pivot) successfully defended her 2016 title with a three-minute victory over surprisingly strong Rae Brownsberger (Grove Subaru). Evelyn Dong (Full Cycle) seemed to struggle during the first lap, but nearly matched Dixon's time on lap two to claim third place overall. Ksenia lepikhina (Tokyo Joes) finished fourth, while Sara Sheets rounded out the podium in fifth place.

The Pro Women started with the Pro men. During the initial six-mile road climb, all of the lead women kept pace with the men for several miles, and only lost contact once Boreas Pass Road turned to dirt.

Dixon commented on her race to Cyclingnews, "This year was definitely harder with the additional single track added in and the dry dusty conditions…we were all riding together up Boreas Pass Road and once on the steeper Illinois gulch road I pulled into the lead. Once on the dirt road, Rae caught and passed me. She pulled away but then I caught her on pinball alley and descended into "nightmare" before her (which is where I crashed twice). She was right with me for the descent and down Sally barber road."

Dixon continued, "Once on French gulch road we rode together and chatted. I had never met her before in any races and she was really cool. She was in the lead for the little French climb but came off her bike at the last steep section and I passed her…At that point, I focused on finishing strong, enjoying the course and riding clean. I think knowing the course so well, living and training at altitude, and also getting cheers from all the locals on course helps me to race my best." 

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Payson McElveen (Orange Seal)3:52:33 
2Rotem Ishay (Team Jamis Bikes)0:02:59 
3Taylor Shelden (Tokyo Joe's)0:10:28 
4J.J. Clark (ProCycling-EnduroBites)0:15:00 
5Dana Weber (Stage 21 Cycling)0:19:04 
6Sam Okeefe (CCB Racing)0:21:07 
7Thomas Spannring (Epic Endurance Cycling)0:22:26 
8Caleb Thompson (l Scott P-b 2nd Ave Sports)0:23:00 
9Kurt Kropp (Cycleton)0:26:29 
10Samuel Dolzani (Honey Stinger-Bontrager)0:28:45 
11Kelly Magelky (Honey Singer - Bontrager)0:31:14 
12Scott Mccalmon0:31:32 
13Pablo Fernandez (Bicycle Co-Stance No Tube-Jarritos)0:33:10 
14Nolan Brady (Tokyo Joes)0:35:10 
15Matt Powers (Avalanche-Relish-Twist)0:38:24 
16Ross Delaplane (Feedback Sports)0:39:20 
17Scott Lyttle0:41:49 
18Bryan Alders (TrainingPeaks-Yeti-Pactimo)0:42:54 
19Michael Hanna (Megastar)0:48:20 
20Tyler Henderson (Alchemist Clothing Works)0:48:44 
21Ike Nicoll (Define Cycling - Avella)0:55:42 
22Donny Warbritton (Stages Cycling)1:01:38 
23David Krimstock (Giant Co Factory)1:03:37 
24David Ross (Go4Graham)1:04:33 
25Kevin Selker (Groove Subaru)1:17:26 
26Andrew Brock (Motor Mile Racing)1:18:54 
27Corey Piscopo (Steamboat Velo MOOTS)1:22:57 
Pro Women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marlee Dixon (MTBracenews.com - Pivot)4:51:13 
2Rae Brownsberger (Groove Subaru - Excel Sports)0:04:48 
3Evelyn Dong (Full Cycle Stunt Team)0:12:50 
4Ksenia Lepikhina (Tokyo Joe's)0:14:20 
5Sara Sheets0:19:00 
6Emily Schaldach (Trek Race Shop)0:23:53 
7Jackie Harlow1:08:21 
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