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The Dirt: Marathon nationals, Utah ProXCT, worlds fans in training

By Spencer Powlison and Matt Miller • Published
Payson McElveen won his second marathon mountain bike nationals in a row, again in a sprint finish against Howard Grotts. Photo: Weldon Weaver | USA Cycling

Welcome to The Dirt, the weekly news round-up on what is happening in the worlds of gravel, mountain biking, and all things rough and dirty.

Orange Seal’s Beisel and McElveen win titles in marathon XC nationals

Sunday was a pretty good day for the Orange Seal mountain bike team.

Orange Seal’s Payson McElveen beat Howard Grotts (Specialized) in a sprint for first at the Marathon MTB National Championships in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. This makes it two years in a row for McElveen. Plus, his teammate Amy Beisel, who placed third last year, grabbed the gold this time around.

“I’m still shaking my head in disbelief,” said Beisel on an Instagram post.

Beisel finished in 3:50:03, ahead of Kaysee Armstrong by 1:14, followed by Larissa Connors in third.

McElveen and Grotts battled it out in the final sprint to the line, 3:12:55 after the gun went off. The two are former college teammates and the showdown was a repeat of last year’s marathon nationals. Nicholas Beechan (Trek Factory Racing) was third.

“I think both Howard and I were better this year, but Howard was, has proportional improved more, at least on the day. He really put it to me on the main climb on the second lap,” McElveen said.

The 50-mile event took place at the Iron Mountain trail system in southwest Arkansas.

Listen to a recent podcast with McElveen and Grotts about their trip to marathon nationals:

The Pro XCT stops in Utah

Stateside pro cross-country racing also saw a big weekend in Midway, Utah. The Soldier Hollow ProXCT was the fourth stop on the UCI-sanctioned series.

On Saturday, racers lined up for the short-track cross-country race. Quebecer Maghalie Rochette won the women’s race while Coloradan Benjamin Sonntag took the men’s event.

The next day, racing continued in the cross-country event. Rochette dominated again and finished seven laps in 1:31:24. Evelyn Dong was second, and Sofia Gomez-Villafane finished third.

Sonntag lost his previous day’s momentum and fell behind to a ninth-place finish as Nicola Rohrbach of Switzerland took gold with a time of 1:32:13 and was followed by Keegan Swenson and Ryan Standish.

The Pro XCT has eight stops this year. The previous event was at Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. Anton Cooper and Annika Langvad took wins there. The Pro XCT’s next stop is in Missoula, Montana June 9. Christopher Blevins leads the men’s division in the series and Erin Huck leads the women.

This footy is pajamas: MTB worlds fans in training

When it comes to mountain bike racing, the Swiss do not mess around. So, for the 2018 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships, September 5-9 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, they are pulling out all the stops. In fact, they’re even making sure fans are properly trained for the big event. Here’s the footy:

Trans Iowa gravel race is done for good

Apologies for missing this news last week: The Trans Iowa — one of the original Midwestern gravel races — held its final edition the weekend of April 28-29. I say “weekend” because the 350-mile epic takes more than 24 hours for most riders to complete. On his blog, race director “Guitar Ted” explained why the 14th running of the event would be the last.

“The wind had gone out of my sails, and honestly, putting on v14 was the hardest thing I had done with any TI since v3, probably. It was a total mental slog. I had motivational issues, and coming up with a basic course idea was tough,” he wrote.

“I gave Trans Iowa my all. I did the very best I could do. I think I was successful, and I achieved my goals. Now others will have to write the legacy story of this event, because my time in it is over. Will I miss it? I am sure that I will. But I have rich, deep memories to last a lifetime and a LOT of people to get around to to give thanks.”

Read the entire entry on Guitar Ted’s blog, and check out former VeloNews editor Nick Legan’s recap of the ride, which he completed in about 32.5 hours. Nineteen of the 95 starters finished the 2018 race.

Got some news you’d like to share in The Dirt? I’d love to hear from you. Please email me your news and updates on all things gravel and mountain biking.

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