Former World Cup mountain bike racer Tammy Jacques-Grewal was a victim of a freak attack while racing the Park City Point to Point last weekend. She was assaulted and knocked to the ground by an aggressive man along the trail while on some singletrack about five hours into the 80-mile race.
While Jacques was racing in third place in the women's category of the endurance mountain bike event in Utah, an unidentified man ran up the trail toward her.
"He eyed me and lifted his elbow to my helmet and assaulted me hard enough to knock me over off from the narrow, root-filled trail onto the ground, downhill side of the trail, where I could not get out of my left pedal," said Jacques to Cyclingnews. "Subsequent to the blow, the man laughed at me while I was in tears because my head hurt and was spinning, as I lay on the ground; however, he never said sorry or showed any remorse."
"Another guy or two rode by after the incident and yelled at the guy, but he only responded with 'she is okay and there was only one sign on the trail to let me that there was a race' - which was strange because there were a few dozen riders in front of me with number plates!" said Jacques.
She believes the attack was intentional. "He obviously was on a mission to disrupt the race and cause havoc to the racers. The man appeared very satisfied that he had inflicted me with pain and looked evil. The incident was very weird in that I actually yielded to the runner out of habit; although, I have never met a runner on course during a mountain bike race, it seemed the proper thing to do regardless of my third place position in the race."
Upset by the assault, Jacques determined to keep racing. "I continued on for another hour, passed the girl that had passed me as soon as finished sitting on a log for about five minutes to recover and get my bearings, as another racer had placed me there, gave me water, and made me eat."
Unfortunately, her day didn't get any better when she later went off course with another rider. "I followed the wrong tracks down a very long descent for several minutes only to discover that we had gone the wrong way. A very sweet gentleman informed us that we were off course and that the only way back was to climb up over a ridge."
"We started to climb up Armstrong, but I turned around after about 20 seconds and went back down the trail all the way to Park City. I met a very nice lady hiking who stopped me and gave me a hug, as she must have sensed that I was lost and not going to complete the race. She was the most kind person one could have met and kept saying 'god bless you', which made me fall apart and to tears, as it was contrary to the encounter about an hour beforehand, which ultimately ruined my day and a race in which I would have certainly made the podium."
Jacques had planned to kick it into high gear to attack the final two hours of the race, so after the assault, she rode conservatively and ate and drank plenty because she was going to skip stopping at the second feed zone. Her husband Rishi Grewal was going to hand up bottles and food in which she would use upon attacking the long climb ahead.
Still feeling beat up and bruised from the assault, Jacques said she is recovering. "My Achilles is still very sore and has inhibited me from riding because I can't pull up on the pedals; however, I am able to swim slowly and walk. I really wanted to go to marathon nationals in Bend, Oregon, but instead I will visit an orthopedic doctor."
Undeterred by the experience, she is planning to return to the Park City P2P next year. "I would like to thank Jay Burke, the race staff, and all of the volunteers that created such a great event. The course was very difficult, but at the same time, fun! It did not seem like I rode nearly six hours that day."
After the assault, Jacques filed a description of the assailant with local police. "The man was about 5'10", light hair and fair skin, late 40s early 50s, and very fit looking. He had a light blue running shirt, white or light blue running cap w/visor. His smile and face looked like that of the man accused of killing the 77 people in Norway last year."
Race organizer Jay Burke told KSL.com, "It is a shame that something like this has happened."
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.