By Shannon Boffeli
Once again the Park City Point 2 Point lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest endurance races in the west. 78 miles, 90% singletrack, 12,000 feet of elevation gained, and stacked fields make the Point 2 Point a serious brute of a race and a major accomplishment for all who finish. Most riders will tell you racing the Point 2 Point makes the Leadville 100 seem easy.
The 7am start was unusually warm this year. Blustery winds made pack riding popular in the opening miles of the race.
After the first hour, a lead group of 12 riders took up the front of the open men’s race. As riders started the long, slow climb up to Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Lodge Hincapie Racing rider Rob Squire made the first acceleration of the day, jumping around a pack of riders on a short section of road and putting in a hard effort on the following climb.
Squire’s “test” of the leaders proved to be a major selection as he quickly built a lead on the way to Silver Lake and kept the hammer down using his impressive climbing speed to open a sizable gap on the hour-long climb through Deer Valley.
Justin Lindine (Competitive Cyclist) proved to be Squire’s closest competition but struggling with a softening tire for part of the day insured he would not be able to close the gap on the lone leader which stood at 9 minutes after the Park City feed zone just 22 miles from the finish.
At that point Lindine was feeling a threat to his own position coming from a hard-charging Josh Tostado (Santa Cruz). Tostado had Lindine in his sight at the base of the day's final big climb up Armstrong trail.
Shortly after leaving Park City Resort the Point 2 Point unleashed some added brutality on the racers as a brief storm dropped temperatures 20 degrees and pelted the lead riders with hail and rain.
Freak hailstorms weren’t enough to slow down Rob Squire as he powered through the final miles of singletrack, so cold he couldn’t feel his fingers on the brake levers.
Squire crossed the line with a time of 6:32:29 and claimed his $2,000 for the win. Over 12 minutes ahead of Justin Lindine who surged in the final portions of the race to maintain his position.
That left three riders to battle for third place, which all came down to the final mile before the finish. With just minutes left to race Drew Free (Revolution) occupied the third position with Josh Tostado just behind him and Park City resident Sam Sweetser (Cole Sport) bearing down on them both.
Sweetser had planned a late charge from the day’s start and the race was unfolding according to his plans. Shortly after making contact with Tostado the Santa Cruz rider dropped his chain and was forced to pull over. This allowed Sweetser to sprint past quickly bridging up to Free.
“I saw Sam coming for me,” Drew Free shared after the race. “I knew there was one short little climb before the finish and I sprinted up that pretty confident that I would leave Sam behind. At the top I looked behind again thinking he would be gone but he was passing me!”
With the finish line just ahead Sam Sweetser wrested third place from Drew Free and crossed the line just 10 seconds clear of the Revolution rider with Tostado crossing the line 11 seconds later.
The women’s race had a very different feel. With several of the best ultra-endurance racers in the country on hand, there was no clear favorite at the start.
Fresh off a win at the Breck Epic, Evelyn Dong (Sho-Air/Cannondale) was clearly in good condition but so was Sonya Looney (Freakshow Defeet) who recently won the Rincon de Viaja 100-miler in Costa Rica.
To confuse things even more, the field included Marlee Dixon (Pivot/Epic Brewing) who finished second at Breck Epic taking a stage win in front of Dong. Also sure to be in the mix was Steamboat Springs rider Kelly Boniface (Moots) and locals Sarah Kaufmann (Stan’s NoTubes) and Meghan Sheridan (UtahMountainBiking.com).
Sonya Looney got off to a great start. Opening up a lead early on in the winding singletrack of Round Valley. Unfortunately for her, about 45 minutes in she followed an open men’s rider off course and lost about 5 minutes before returning to the missed corner.
Her misdirection dropped her back in the field and allowed Evelyn Dong to get out front.
Once the climbing started Dong was in her element. A long-time resident of Park City the Sho-Air rider has spent hours and hours riding the limitless singletrack of Park City and polishing her climbing skills. Once out front she used her light, high-cadence climbing style to stretch the gap on her competitors.
Few can match Dong’s climbing speed especially at altitude and it showed as she quickly made her way through much of the open men’s field who had started 2 minutes in front of her.
Behind the leader Colorado riders Marlee Dixon and Kelly Boniface were once again locked in battle as they both crested the climb out of Deer Valley within seconds of each other.
Looney was solidly in 4th position now with Meghan Sheridan in 5th.
By the time riders reached Park City Resort Evelyn Dong had increased her lead but now Marlee Dixon occupied second place just in front of Boniface.
Neither Colorado rider had anything left to chase down Evelyn Dong who was too far out front and eventually crossed the line with a nine minute advantage.
Marlee Dixon used the final 22 miles from Park City to the Canyons to open up a slim one-minute advantage over Boniface to finish second with Boniface taking third.
Sonya Looney stayed steady in fourth all the way to the finish.
NoTubes rider Sarah Kaufmann showed good form late in the race, overtaking Meghan Sheridan for the final podium position.
For the second year the Point 2 Point featured a mid-race enduro segment that included one of the long downhill sections on course. Justin Lindine took the title in the open men’s race while Marlee Dixon claimed the title for the women. Each racer took home $100 for the win.