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Payson McElveen claims maiden US Marathon title

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Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) celebrates his first national championship at the finish.

Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) celebrates his first national championship at the finish.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) getting his bike ready for the race.

Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) getting his bike ready for the race.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) riding twisty singletrack ahead of Alex Wild.

Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) riding twisty singletrack ahead of Alex Wild.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak Ergon) leading Grotts and McElveen well into the second lap.

Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak Ergon) leading Grotts and McElveen well into the second lap.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Given the somewhat warm temperatures, riders benefited from the shade of the forest.

Given the somewhat warm temperatures, riders benefited from the shade of the forest.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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A lone rider winds his way through the heavy forest.

A lone rider winds his way through the heavy forest.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Justine Lindine (Apex) riding in fourth position during the second lap.

Justine Lindine (Apex) riding in fourth position during the second lap.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) had less than a ten-meter lead as they approached the finish.

Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) had less than a ten-meter lead as they approached the finish.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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The top five finishers all chatted after the race (L to R) Howard Grotts, Jeremiah Bishop,

The top five finishers all chatted after the race (L to R) Howard Grotts, Jeremiah Bishop,
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Men's podium (L to R) Howard Grotss (Specialized) 2nd, Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) 1st, Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak Ergon) 3rd

Men's podium (L to R) Howard Grotss (Specialized) 2nd, Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) 1st, Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak Ergon) 3rd
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) and Jeremiah Bishop amuse themselves by taking selfies as Howard Grotts looks on.

Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) and Jeremiah Bishop amuse themselves by taking selfies as Howard Grotts looks on.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) had to burn some matches to rejoin the leaders after one lap.

Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) had to burn some matches to rejoin the leaders after one lap.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Howard Grotts (Specialized) leading Todd Wells before Feed Zone #1

Howard Grotts (Specialized) leading Todd Wells before Feed Zone #1
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak Ergon) was coming off a strong outing at the Whiskey 50.

Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak Ergon) was coming off a strong outing at the Whiskey 50.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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The front row included defending champion Todd Wells and his former specialized team-mate Howard Grotts.

The front row included defending champion Todd Wells and his former specialized team-mate Howard Grotts.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Alex Meucci leads the pro men out onto the starting loop.

Alex Meucci leads the pro men out onto the starting loop.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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The Pro Men head up the first significant climb on the starting loop.

The Pro Men head up the first significant climb on the starting loop.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Howard Grotts (Specialized) led onto the first section of singletrack

Howard Grotts (Specialized) led onto the first section of singletrack
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak Ergon) riding second wheel early in the race.

Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak Ergon) riding second wheel early in the race.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Howard Grotts (Specialized) with Payson McElveenm (Ridebiker), who had rejoined the leaders after one lap.

Howard Grotts (Specialized) with Payson McElveenm (Ridebiker), who had rejoined the leaders after one lap.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Riders were treated to some incredibly beautiful Arkansas singletrack

Riders were treated to some incredibly beautiful Arkansas singletrack
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Todd Wells (SRAM-TLD) leading Alex Wild during lap one.

Todd Wells (SRAM-TLD) leading Alex Wild during lap one.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Todd Wells (SRAM-TLD) leading the race with five followers during lap two.

Todd Wells (SRAM-TLD) leading the race with five followers during lap two.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Eighty-four-year-old perennial national champion Fred Schmidt gets ready to race

Eighty-four-year-old perennial national champion Fred Schmidt gets ready to race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)

Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker) won his first pro championship in a sprint finish against pre-race favorite Howard Grotts (Specialized) in Arkadelphia, Arkansas on Sunday. Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak Ergon) was in the hunt for the win but suffered an untimely puncture in the final stages of the race and finished third to round out the podium.

This was the first visit to Arkansas for the USA Marathon Championships. Racers came away impressed with the venue at DeGray Lake Resort State Park and the quality of the trails. The twisty course was 90 per cent singletrack under a pine forest canopy and offered something for everyone; short punchy climbs along with a couple longer sustained climbs, plenty of rocks, and some fast descents.

The race began with a starting loop that was intended to make the entrance onto singletrack less of a traffic jam. That was followed by two long loops, each with three aid stations, for a total of 50 miles.

Grotts led a large group onto the initial singletrack with Bishop and defending champion Todd Wells (SRAM-TLD) close behind. But, soon after that the group split with the initial three leaders off the front.

McElveen explained what happened, "About halfway through the first lap one of the riders in our group lost the wheel in front of him and opened up a 15-20 second gap, which on this course is a lot. He wouldn't let us by, unfortunately, so Justine Lindine and I had to put in a big effort to make it back to the (lead) group.

The re-grouping happened near the end of the first lap. Six riders including Grotts, Wells, Bishop, McElveen, Lindine (APX), and Ryan Woodall all rolled together until the next big climb. At that point, Grotts, McElveen, and Bishop got away for good.

Bishop, however, was losing air in a tire and had to stop. McElveen commented, "Unfortunately, Jeremiah punctured on one of the last descents which was a bummer. I think we were going to have a real "ding dong" battle."

McElveen added, "On the last main descent before the pavement section I opened up a 10-second gap on Howard and that made him chase really hard on the road. He gave it everything up the last dirt road drag and it was quite hard holding his wheel. But, I was quite confident for the sprint."

Grotts and McElveen are training partners in Durango, Colorado so both know each other's strengths and weaknesses. Grotts explained the closing minutes of the race, "I tried to hit it on a really gradual climb but it wasn't nearly steep enough for my climbing legs. We came into the finish together but I don't really know how to sprint against a big guy like him. He just came around with a lot more power, and I'm really happy for him."

Brief Results

#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Ridebiker)
2Howard Grotts (Specialized)
3Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak Ergon)

 

 

 

 

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