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The essence of grassroots: Underground ultra endurance racing

The appeal

If it truly is the individual challenge that draws people to racing ultra endurance events, then the lack of fanfare creates an appealing event for many. Purvis sums it up well by saying, “Lots of endurance riders have realized they don’t need a podium to stand on at the end. We don’t need another t-shirt. We don’t want to pay for those things.”

Instead, Purvis hopes that the events are used as a “chances to hook up with the people we like, who we’ve been rubbing shoulders with at endurance events for years.” He describes the events as “Gatherings” and hopes that when riders finish his event, they’ll find each other in town for “social time and war story telling” while enjoying beverages and recovery meals that Purvis has arranged for.

The chance to ride new trails also draws the endurance crowd and organizers make their best attempt to make sure that the trails don’t disappoint. Hemperly says, “My goal is that riders come back to me and either say, ‘WOW that was fricking awesome,’ or they may come back and say, ‘can I smash you in the teeth for that beating?’ But they say it with a smile on their face. I know, I’ve been there.”

In the end, there are seldom results posted anywhere besides the finish (where they consist of riders signing in when they finish), nothing is taken besides pictures, and nothing is created besides memories. Hemperly sums it up best, saying, “self gratification is what this is all about. What you will get is a great time on great trails with great people in an awesome setting.”

Read more about self supported racing:

The ultimate ultra: The Arizona Trail Race

Eszter Horanyi lives and mountain bikes in Crested Butte, CO.  She has dabbled in road racing, cyclocross racing, and cross country mountain bike racing, but has gravitated towards ultra endurance and multi day self supported racing in the more recent past.  She firmly believes that nothing tops a good ride with good friends on good trails, thus she spends her life in search of all of the above. You can follow her adventures on her blog. All articles by Eszter.

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