Thick mud challenges Mid South gravel racers – Gallery

While most of the cycling world faced a lockdown due to the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, Saturday saw riders take on the red mud of rural Oklahoma at The Mid South gravel race, a 160km adventure won by defending champion Payson McElveen in 6:23:05 and former US collegiate mountain bike champion Hannah Finchamp in 7:49:10.

Although the distance was intimidating and the circumstances of going forward in the face of a global pandemic were controversial, the biggest obstacle on Saturday proved to be the torrential rain that turned the roads around Stillwater into sloppy troughs of thick peanut-butter mud that made maintaining the machine almost as important as turning the cranks.

Peter Stetina had an early advantage in the race, but troubles with a mud-clogged derailleur slowed his progress and allowed McElveen and eventual runner-up Colin Strickland to pass.

The pros were only part of the story at The Mid South, however, as plenty of people pushed themselves well past the times of those riding for the win. According to the race website, 34-year-old Jared Anderson of Iowa was the final rider to finish the 160km course, covering the route in 15:45:39.

Click or swipe through the photos above for a glimpse of the action.

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