What do four Costa Ricans from LaRuta, rigid hardtailed women, The Pfluginator and a rodent, the SiMonster, a Wunderkid, a Ferrari, a refugee, and a US Olympic hopeful all have in common?
The seventh annual Kenda National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series Opener at the Trailhead Bicycle Company Cohutta 100, held at the Ocoee whitewater center near Ducktown, Tennessee, host of the 1996 Olympic whitewater competition. The first of an expanded twelve-race mountain bike series this year, the Cohutta 100 witnessed nearly 400 racers as they rolled out from under a Giant Kenda Tire, hoping to capture one of four national titles or simply to endure to finish a challenging race boasting more than 13,000 feet of vertical elevation within the Cherokee National Forest.
Dry and Mild temperatures greeted racers this year, although it became warm in the afternoon with temperatures reaching the mid-eighties. Many racers agreed that this year’s course changes were an improvement, although most agreed it was also more difficult than previous years, thanks to miles of additional singletrack.
NUE Women’s Open:
According to race winner and 2008 NUE Series champion Cheryl Sornsen, Team CF, who finished 8:31:21, “Things worked for me today, particularly my body. I’ve had a great winter and spring of training and it paid off. The race start was fast and got a little sketchy, however, Amanda and I were able to stay on each other’s wheel. It wasn’t until the singletrack ended and we popped out onto the road that I was able to gap her.
I was more efficient and faster on the climbs today. The rest of the race I worked hard to stay away. It was a much harder race than last year and it was tough to stay focused and strong on the climbs but I found the willpower. This was the fourth time I raced Cohutta. Three second places, so it was a goal to win it today. I am super excited to start the NUE season with a win.”
According to the two-time defending women’s open champion, Amanda Carey, Kenda/Felt, who finished second 8:44:50, “Cheryl and I battled back and forth for the first hour but I immediately knew something was up. My heart rate was sky high, no power, and Cheryl was riding really, really well. She had a fantastic day. She dropped me like a hot potato about an hour and twenty minutes in on the first significant climb and there was nothing I could do about it.”
Kristin Gavin of Team Cystic Fibrosis, finished third 8:59:30. His response after the race was, “It hurt. This was my first hundred miler so I really eased into it and stuck to my priorities, monitoring my heart rate, keeping my pace, paying really close attention to my nutrition and my training paid off.” When asked about her choice in nutrition, Gavin added “Hammer Nutrition and this thing called water.” She also noted that she is working with 2007 NUE Men’s Open Champion, Chis Eatough using one of his specially designed training plans. Eatough won each of the four races he entered, earning a perfect score.