By Shannon Boffeli
Early Saturday morning, 350 hardy mountain biking souls lined up for the 3rd edition of the Park City Point 2 Point on a clear day.
The Point 2 Point, as it’s known, is a race like no other. At 78-miles, it’s the longest mountain bike race in Utah, but the over 90% singletrack is what really sets it apart. This is the first year the PCP2P has been included in the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series and is the only race stop in 2011 with a distance under 100 miles.
As riders huddled for the start, temperatures dipped into the low 40s just before the sun rose over the Uinta Mountains.
As always, the race got off to a fast start with an ultra high-powered lead group of men pushing the pace off the front.
Josh Tostado (Bach Builders), Kelly Magelky (Honey Stinger), Cary Smith (Hammer Nutrition), Cannondale teammates Tinker Juarez, and Alex Grant as well as Lifetime Fitness rider Bryson Perry took up positions at the head of the race.
By the first feed zone, at mile 28, an elite group of Grant, Juarez, and Tostado began to get a gap. Bryson Perry, Smith, and Kelly Magelky hung on just behind the leaders.
At mile 37 the gaps were virtually the same as the riders entered the most technical section of the course.
Unfortunately, for Kelly Magelky the wheels had already started to come off of his day. Once firmly contesting the lead, the Honey Stinger rider was now dropping back while Perry and Smith continued to look strong.
It was here where the Cannondale riders began to pull clear of Tostado.
After the feed zone at Park City Mountain Resort, Grant and Juarez had moved 4 minutes ahead of the chaser Tostado.
It was clear the race would come down to a battle between Cannondale teammates and Grant didn’t leave much time to ponder the outcome. As the lead duo entered the 40-minute Spiro Trail climb Grant put in the
decisive attack. He surged away from Tinker, immediately opening a gap. Grant, riding a 26-inch Scalpel, continued to push it through the rough and rugged Iron Mountain section of the course without incident.
At the final checkpoint, less than 10 miles from the finish, Grant was 7 minutes into the lead. By the time he crossed the line he was an amazing 11 minutes in front of his Cannondale teammate, setting a new fastest time of 6:48:58.
Tinker Juarez came in to claim a well-deserved second place with Josh Tostado hot on his heals for third.
Bryson Perry put together a nice ride and avoided any mishaps to take fourth place while Cary Smith came in fifth.
Alex Grant has won all three runnings of the Park City Point 2 Point. Each year facing more-and-more difficult competition, Grant has proved to be unstoppable in the Park City singletrack.
The women’s race featured the most elite collection of female endurance mountain bike racers of any event in the west.
National Ultra Endurance racer Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) would be lining up against 3-time Leadville champion Rebecca Rusch (Specialized), last year’s P2P runner-up Kelly Boniface, endurance specialist Jenny Smith (Alpine Orthopedics), Breck Epic winner Sonya Looney (Topeak/Ergon), and local fast girls Erica Tingey (White Pine Touring), and Evelyn Dong.
Right from the gun it was Carey trying to stir things up. The Kenda rider powered through the opening 10-miles gapping all but Jenny Smith.
Tingey and Boniface hooked up just 30 seconds behind the lead duo with Rebecca Rusch another 30 seconds back.
After feed one at Deer Valley Resort, the battle up front remained tight. Jenny Smith and Carey were trading turns up front with Smith taking the lead through Guardsman Pass and into the treacherous TG trail section. Despite Smith’s best efforts, Carey was always right behind and by the time they entered Johns’ Trail and the climb up to Shadow Lake, Carey was beginning to pull away.
At the next feed, Carey had a buffer of several minutes and Smith was now feeling pressure from Erica Tingey and Sonya Looney, who after a moderate start, had moved into fourth place, ahead of Rusch and Kelly Boniface who was struggling with back pain.
Now on the home stretch, Carey was destined for another win and an undefeated National Ultra Endurance racing season.
Behind, Erica Tingey was making her move. Through Spiro and Iron Mountain she closed the 2-minute gap on Smith quickly taking up the second place position.
Smith continued to fade. Sonya Looney was the next to overtake her, as would Rebecca Rusch before the finish.
In the end, Amanda Carey outclassed one of the strongest women’s field ever assembled in ultra-endurance racing. Her unique combination of power and desire pushed the Kenda/Felt rider to an impressive win and a second National Ultra Endurance series title in as many years.
Erica Tingey crossed the line for a commanding second place. The Utah rider turned in a best-ever performance to take the second step on the podium
At the finish a very happy Sonya Looney had ridden herself all the way to third just over a minute ahead of fourth place finisher Rebecca Rusch. And after a difficult final 15-miles, Jenny Smith held on for fifth.
For more information on the PCP2P visit www.thepcpp.com.