PC50 race a hit | ParkRecord.com

PC50 race a hit

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

Not even the dreaded trail gnomes could halt the third Utah State Championship Series mountain-bike event the PC50 race Saturday morning.

With the race sold out and 285 riders ready to test themselves on the grueling 50-mile ride, the gnomes pestered race director Bob Saffell and his cohorts throughout the week, but he made it a point to stay one step ahead.

"We can’t do anything about the trail gnomes," he said. "It is kind of weird. I’ve seen it at other races, but we just saw it in this one section all week long."

The trail gnomes continued to alter the course outline near John’s Trail in the weeks leading up to the race, Saffell said. However, he and his fellow race organizers did the 50-mile trek multiple times throughout the week to ensure a proper and safe course.

He said he rode the 50-mile course every morning and evening in the week prior to the race to check on the course.

"Not all at once," he said.

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The race started out at Park City Mountain Resort, cut across the winding trails of the Wasatch Back for 50 miles and ended at the Frostwood lift at Canyons Resort. According to Saffell, the first half of the race featured a 6,000-foot climb. The race, in total, featured 8,000 feet of climbing.

"The first 23 miles was a bit mean," he said, "But it helped split people up before they got into the tight single tracks."

The PC50, the third of four series events, was a hit among the racers.

Parkite Jay Burke, who is a mountain-biking connoisseur, having organized the Park City Point 2 Point mountain-bike endurance race, said he has raced in all three events thus far this year and the PC50 was another taxing, self-motivating event the sport is seeing more of.

"To squeeze 50 miles in like they did, they covered about every trail," said Burke, who finished second in the men’s expert 40+ category with a time of 5:01:31, a mere 17 seconds behind teammate and first-place finisher Thom Morton of Midway. "It was a good course; it was hard, a really hard course. I think the hardest part for me was, it started out with so much climbing."

Burke, who rides with the White Pine/Jans squad, said that after the punishing 23 miles of climbing, he "decided to put the hammer down" when he realized he was still in good shape.

"I think these endurance-type races are definitely where the enthusiasm is right now in mountain biking," he said. "I always think about the Point 2 Point, and how racers enjoy the personal victory of finishing the event more than the actual race.

"With any event over four hours of effort, it’s so rewarding to finish. To do well is just icing on the cake."

Burke said while folks in Park City will look at a 50-mile bike race as just another activity, the rest of the country is a bit behind in endurance racing.

"It’s pretty impressive, and it’s pretty cool when you think about it," he said. "I think it’s great. The more folks we can have putting on races like this around Utah, the better.

"It’s been kind of a different take in bringing the new series to the table. I’d like to see them jump around the state with these venues and mix it up. I just think it’d be cool, then you can open it up to more people."

Saffell said the inaugural series is going well and has one more event to go; the fourth and final race will be Aug. 20 in Draper.

"Selling out this race was surprising and exciting," he said. "The racers gave us rave reviews."

Saffell smiled large as each rider flew threw the finish line, congratulating them. On this day, the trail gnomes would not be triumphant.

Among the race winners were Amanda Carey, pro women’s winner (5:01:17), and Cary Smith, pro men’s winner (4:11:44). For full race results, see the scoreboard in today’s print edition.