Skip to main content

USA Marathon Champion tames Firecracker 50

Image 1 of 34

Half the town of Breckenridge, Colorado seemed to be in costumes today

Half the town of Breckenridge, Colorado seemed to be in costumes today
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 2 of 34

Announcer Larry Grossman, race organizer Jeff Westcott, and an unidentified young woman on the stage before the race

Announcer Larry Grossman, race organizer Jeff Westcott, and an unidentified young woman on the stage before the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 3 of 34

Rae Brownsberger (Grove Subaru) setting a shocking pace at the front of the woman’s field during lap one

Rae Brownsberger (Grove Subaru) setting a shocking pace at the front of the woman’s field during lap one
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 4 of 34

Marlee Dixon (MTBracenews.com-Pivot) was still smiling near the top of the Boreas Pass Climb as she chased Brownsberger

Marlee Dixon (MTBracenews.com-Pivot) was still smiling near the top of the Boreas Pass Climb as she chased Brownsberger
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 5 of 34

This little girl may have had the best costume of the day

This little girl may have had the best costume of the day
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 6 of 34

Evelyn Dong (Full Cycle) riding in third place during lap one

Evelyn Dong (Full Cycle) riding in third place during lap one
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 7 of 34

A group of young men with flags preceded the official parade

A group of young men with flags preceded the official parade
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 8 of 34

Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) with a lead over Rotem Ishay during lap two

Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) with a lead over Rotem Ishay during lap two
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 9 of 34

Ksenia Lepikhina (Tokyo Joes) riding to an impressive fourth place finish

Ksenia Lepikhina (Tokyo Joes) riding to an impressive fourth place finish
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 10 of 34

A group of Amateur Men on Boreas Pass Road

A group of Amateur Men on Boreas Pass Road
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 11 of 34

Rotem Ishay (Jamis) with Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) glued to his wheel pass over one of the many streams full of snowmelt

Rotem Ishay (Jamis) with Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) glued to his wheel pass over one of the many streams full of snowmelt
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 12 of 34

Pete Karinen (Broken Spoke) led for much of the initial climb out of Breckenridge

Pete Karinen (Broken Spoke) led for much of the initial climb out of Breckenridge
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 13 of 34

Rotem Ishay (Jamis) with a small gap over Payson McElveen (Orange Seal)

Rotem Ishay (Jamis) with a small gap over Payson McElveen (Orange Seal)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 14 of 34

J.J. Clark (Pro Cycling) crossing one of the wooden bridges over a stream in French Gulch on his way to a fourth-place finish

J.J. Clark (Pro Cycling) crossing one of the wooden bridges over a stream in French Gulch on his way to a fourth-place finish
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 15 of 34

Caleb Johnson(CRC Janitorial-Scott) hammering out of the saddle near the end of the first lap

Caleb Johnson(CRC Janitorial-Scott) hammering out of the saddle near the end of the first lap
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 16 of 34

A Honey Stinger rider bearing down four miles from the finish of lap one

A Honey Stinger rider bearing down four miles from the finish of lap one
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 17 of 34

Rotem Ishay (Jamis) leading Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) through a section of the course called "Dredges"

Rotem Ishay (Jamis) leading Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) through a section of the course called "Dredges"
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 18 of 34

Amateur racers passing by some spectacular views

Amateur racers passing by some spectacular views
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 19 of 34

Jakup Valigura (Full Cycle) on the front row at the start

Jakup Valigura (Full Cycle) on the front row at the start
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 20 of 34

USA Marathon Champion Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) on the front row

USA Marathon Champion Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) on the front row
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 21 of 34

The Breckenridge ski area was visible from the start

The Breckenridge ski area was visible from the start
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 22 of 34

Evelyn Dong (Full Cycle) and the rest of the pro women started with the men

Evelyn Dong (Full Cycle) and the rest of the pro women started with the men
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 23 of 34

Scott McCalmon riding through an aspen grove in French Gulch

Scott McCalmon riding through an aspen grove in French Gulch
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 24 of 34

leading as the pro men started onto the dirt section of Boreas Pass Road

leading as the pro men started onto the dirt section of Boreas Pass Road
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 25 of 34

The pro men’s field hits the dirt section of the course with many strong endurance riders in the group

The pro men’s field hits the dirt section of the course with many strong endurance riders in the group
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 26 of 34

Marlee Dixon (MTBracenews.com-Pivot) won the Firecracker 50m last yea

Marlee Dixon (MTBracenews.com-Pivot) won the Firecracker 50m last yea
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 27 of 34

The Pro Women and the Pro Men all started together

The Pro Women and the Pro Men all started together
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 28 of 34

The town of Breckenridge was full of spectators to watch the race and the Fourth of July parade

The town of Breckenridge was full of spectators to watch the race and the Fourth of July parade
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 29 of 34

The peloton on the six-mile climb up Boreas Pass Road

The peloton on the six-mile climb up Boreas Pass Road
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 30 of 34

The peloton about two miles from the top of the initial climb with eventual race winner Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) riding second wheel

The peloton about two miles from the top of the initial climb with eventual race winner Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) riding second wheel
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 31 of 34

The leader riding a paceline on the dirt section of Boreas Pass Road

The leader riding a paceline on the dirt section of Boreas Pass Road
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 32 of 34

One of the amateur riders posed for the cameras on the steep climb out of Breckenridge

One of the amateur riders posed for the cameras on the steep climb out of Breckenridge
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 33 of 34

Alexis Skarda (Stan's NoTubes) was riding for a team today

Alexis Skarda (Stan's NoTubes) was riding for a team today
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
Image 34 of 34

The crowd on Main Street was huge for the start of the race

The crowd on Main Street was huge for the start of the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)

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

Latest on Cyclingnews