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Race Preview: Park City Point to Point in Park City, Utah

By:
Ryan O'Dell

Can Grant defend his win from 2011

Park City Singlespeed winner Michael Shane

Park City Singlespeed winner Michael Shane

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With just three races remaining, The Kenda NUE series, presented by Hammer Nutrition, features back to back races over the Labor Day weekend. The series winners will take home $11,000 in cash plus complimentary entry into all NUE Series races next year. Prizes from Kenda, Velocity Wheels, Sigma Sport, Squirt Lube and Darn Tough Socks will be awarded to every racer who can go the distance by completing the series minimum of four races. One lucky racer will receive a trip to compete at the 20th Anniversary La Ruta De Los Conquistadores, an annual mountain bike race that has been ranked Top 10 Toughest Endurance Events in the World by Time Magazine.

On Saturday, the Park City Point to Point (PCP2P) makes its series debut selling out 350 available slots in a record three minutes and 17 seconds! Then, on Sunday, 650 racers will flock to the Shenandoah 100 in Virginia. These back to back races could wreak havoc on the standings before the final race at the Fool’s Gold 100 in Georgia, where all ties will be broken and four NUE Champions determined.

The Park City Point 2 Point (PCP2P) returns to the Wasatch Back for the fourth year in a row this Labor Day Weekend on Saturday, September 1. As the premier endurance event of the West, the PCP2P is one of just two sanctioned National Ultra Endurance Series with a distance shorter than 100 miles. Featuring thigh-busting climbs and continuous singletrack, the 2012 course travels nearly 80 miles and climbs roughly 14,000’ through the Wasatch Mountains without crossing, or using, the same trail twice.

The course cuts through the area’s three ski resorts, including Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort, and will finish in the Forum at Canyons Resort. “The course is 90% singletrack and there are very few sections for resting” according to three-time defending PCP2P champion, Alex Grant (Cannondale), who admits the race is “harder than any 100 miler that I have done because of the amount of singletrack and climbing. It requires focus during the entire race, and your body never gets a break. That said, it is a super fun course and one that any mountain biker that claims to like ‘epic’ rides should aim to complete.”

The event has also gained the interest of major brands, including Scott Sports, the new title sponsor of the race. “Partnering with Scott was an easy decision. Their bikes, like the Spark 29, show a commitment to endurance riding and racing, and that’s what we were looking for in an event partner. They are a perfect fit”, says race director Jay Burke. “Scott is also making a push in our community by teaming up with Jan’s Mountain Outfitters. We wanted to work with a brand that’s building a strong presence here in Park City, and a brand that’s going to be around a while.”

The limited 350 slots for Park City’s only endurance mountain bike race filled up in 3 minutes and 17 seconds during registration in February, compared to 6 minutes in 2011. A $14,000 cash purse will be divided equally among the top five men and women racers in the Open Male and Open Female divisions, plus a payout to the top rider in each age group.

Men’s Open Will Grant defend his win?

In the Men’s Open Division, Grant was the only racer to go sub seven last year, completing the course in just 6:48:59 , facing off with Grant this year will be pro endurance specialists, Josh Tostado (Santa Cruz/Maxxis.Shiman) winner of the Breckenridge 100 this year who placed third last year, Bryson Perry (Lifetime Fitness) a two-time Leadville 100 winner who placed fourth last year, Ben Melt Sonntag (Squirt Lube), a LaRuta champ and NUE Series contender from South Africa who placed second at both Breckenridge and the Pierre’s Hole 100 this year.

The darkhorse, currently in second place in the NUE Series point standings, with a win at Syllamo’s Revenge this year, Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt) could set himself up for a late season NUE series victory with a win at Park City IF he can follow that up with a win at Fool’s Gold next weekend.

Women’s Open - Showdown in the Wasatch: Carey vs Mata

In the women’s open, Pua Mata (Sho-Air) from Yucaipa, CA, again graces the guest list after failing to show up last year. She will face off with two-time NUE Series Champion and last year’s race winner, Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) who completed the course in just 8:17:33, fourteen minutes ahead of her nearest competitor.

Referring to the highly anticipated matchup with Pua Mata, who failed to show up last year, Carey commented, “I was waiting for it too. I thought she would’ve come here and destroyed the course she could have done extremely well on. She has in the past. I don’t know what the story is but I heard last weekend that she decided not to come and something had come up.”

Erica Tingey (Rocky Mountain/KUHL) from Las Vegas, NV returns following her surprising second place finish to the NUE Series champ last year. In what was Tingey’s third endurance race last year, she had this to say, “I just started out going mellow and I said I’m just never going to push over threshold. I stayed under threshold the whole day and just knew that had to be good enough and it just happened to be good enough.”

After trading places for the first five hours with Carey last year, Jennifer Smith (NO tubes Womens elite) from Gunnison, CO returns following her fifth place finish last year.

Singlespeed - Shane returns to defend last year’s victory

Last year, Michael Shane (Club Ride Apparel) claimed victory using 32/20 gearing on a Niner-Two-Nine with a winning time of 8:06:52. He will face both podium finishers including Corey Larrabee (Revolution/Khul) from Draper, UT who finished less than a minute behind Shane. Also returning is NUE Series Contender, AJ Linnell (Fitzgerald's Bicycles / Misfit Psycles) who finished third last year.

Also returning this year are Stephan Wasmund (Cutthroat Racing) from Bountiful, UT, who finished seven minutes behind Linnell last year and Mike Barklow (Just for Fun Racing) from Midvale, UT who placed seventh last year.

Masters 50+ - Hershberger favored to repeat

53 year old NUE Contender, Mark Hershberger (Hoback Sports) crushed the field by nearly forty five minutes last year 8:44:29 and placed first at the Pierre’s Hole 100 this year. With a win on Saturday, Hershberger would not only defend his win at the P2P, he would also move into second place behind NUE Series leader Ron Sanborn (Einstein Racing) from Traverse City, MI, who leads all masters with four wins this year.

53 year old Marland Whaley (Red Barn Bicycles) from Hamilton, MT is among the top three in the NUE Series as well with back to back second place finishes at the Breckenridge 100 and the High Cascades 100 this year plus a third place finish at the Pierre’s Hole 100, just behind Sanborn and Roger Masse (Trek).

55 year old David Grauer (Orthopro) is back and having his best season ever. He placed fifth at the P2P last year, one of just five masters who finished sub ten. With a top five finish on Saturday, Grauer, who placed sixth overall in the NUE Series last year, has an opportunity to move up to third or even second place in the NUE Series standings heading into the championship race.