RAAM Update: Robic holds lead, two Americans in top-5

RAAM Update: Robic holds lead, two Americans in top-5

ByVic Armijo
RAAM Update – Friday, June 11, 2010 – Noon


Thursday was the kind of day that makes RAAM so very special, with beautiful weather, temperatures in the low 80s and the scenic backdrop of the red rocks of Arizona serving as stage for this wonderful show.

RAAM solo men leader Jure Robic powers along Oak Creek Road in Sedona Arizona.
RAAM solo men leader Jure Robic powers along Oak Creek Road in Sedona Arizona.

Slovenian Jure Robic continues in his quest to break the long-standing average speed record of 15.4 mph. His current average so far is 18.82 miles per hour. Realize that this isn’t a tally of only his on-the-bike time, the clock is always running in RAAM so this average includes the time he’d been stopped to change and eat and even the one sleep break that he’s taken so far. That’s right, he’s been riding for nearly two days straight, has logged over 800 miles and aside from the short nap he took Thursday night in Utah, he has done it without sleep. Such is the regime of a RAAM contender.

Meanwhile Austrian Gerhard Gulewicz has a solid hold on second place. Gulewicz was second in RAAM 2009 and has been touted by RAAM pundits as a likely challenger to Robic, based in part on 2008 when Gulewicz shadowed Robic all the way to Utah. But in a pre-start chat he all but dismissed such thoughts, “He and I on the road, he is the fastest every time, he admitted, This record, it’s not my goal you understand. I don’t think that I can follow him if he is going that fast. It makes no sense for me to stay with him.”

Behind Gulewicz are Americans Mark Pattinson and Rob Morlock. Less than an hour separate the two. This will be an interesting race over top American honors. Both are experienced RAAM racers; Pattinson was second in 2008, his rookie year; and Morlock has three previous RAAM on his record.


Barbara Buatois riding the recliner across the U.S.
Barbara Buatois riding the recliner across the U.S.

French rider Barbara Buatois stated goal for this her RAAM debut is to be the first woman to finish on a recumbent. But she’s now in position to be the overall women’s winner of RAAM 2010 as well.

Buatois and South African Michele Santilhano have traded the lead since day one, and Santilhano had been in front as recently as yesterday, but as of this morning Buatois has gapped Santilhano by three hours.

Of course one sleep break could erase that. Sandy Earl continues a strong ride to hold third aboard her recumbent. We encountered her late last night at the Arizona/Utah border in Monument Valley where the 47-year-old racer was in good spirits and commented on the fantastic light show that the Milky Way can provide in the darkness of the Navajo Reservation.

According to her crew American Amy Xu is right on her projected time goals. And despite some slow miles on day two that had RAAM headquarters concerned, Italian Sabrina Bianchi seems to have rallied from whatever problems she had in eastern Arizona. When we found her Wednesday night outside of Monument Valley she was smiling, offered a cheery greeting in Italian and even blew a kiss.


Possibly the most inspiring rider of RAAM 2010 is Dex Tooke. The 60-year-old is a dynamo of energy and his enthusiasm is contagious.

We found him last night riding between Xu and Bianchi. Seeing a photographer in the van, Tooke gave an energetic wave and yelled out a hearty greeting as The Who’s “Talking ‘bout My Generation” blasted from the sound system of his follow car.

As Roger Daltrey’s voice echoed “… hope I die before I get old,” it quickly became apparent that, despite his six decades, Dex Tooke isn’t about to get old any time soon.

1. Barbara Buatois (France) 857 miles 2 days, 20 hours, 0 minutes
2. Michele Santilhano (USA) 814 miles 2 days, 17 hours, 6 minutes
3. Sandy Earl (USA) 763 miles 2 days, 18 hours, 30 minutes
4. Amy Xu (USA) 763 miles 2 days, 20 hours, 15 minutes
5. Sabrina Bianchi (Italy) 763 miles 2 days, 20 hours, 21 minutes

1. Jure Robic (Slovenia) 814 miles 1 day, 19 hours, 15 minutes
2. Gerhard Gulewicz (Austria) 763 miles 1 day, 19 hours, 23 minutes
3. Mark Pattinson (USA) 679 miles 1 day, 18 hours, 31 minutes
4. Rob Morlock (USA) 679 miles 1 day, 19 hours, 27 minutes
5. Matthew Warner-Smith (USA) 679 miles 1 day, 20 hours, 39 minutes