Keegan Swenson sets new Point 2 Point record
September 6, 2016
Despite growing up in Park City and being an avid cyclist, professional mountain biker Keegan Swenson had never competed in the Park City Point 2 Point.
This year, though, his schedule allowed him to compete in the 75-mile race with 10,000 feet of climbing and he made the most of it.
His Cannondale 360fly powered by SUGOI teammate Alex Grant held the previous course record, winning the 2014 race in 6 hours, 16 minutes and 31.0 seconds.
Swenson, who had never done a race over three hours, used his knowledge of the Park City trail system and a few tips from Grant to set a new course record, winning Saturday's race in 6:11:04.44.
Swenson defeated second-place Ben Sonntag (6:25:59.94) by nearly 15 minutes. Rob Squire finished third in 6:33:17.00.
Gretchen Reeves won the Open Female division with a time of 7:34:52.14. Marlee Dixon (7:49:58.90) finished second and Sofia Villafane Gomez took third place in 8:06:57.34.
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Swenson said he didn't think he'd be able to set a new course record, but everything lined up for him to succeed.
"To be honest, my goal was just to be under 6.5 [hours]," he said. "I thought that was pretty reasonable based on times in the past. [The trails] were perfect, though. It could have rained maybe just a touch more, but they had been so dusty the past couple weeks, so that rain helped put down some of the silt and some of the moon dust. That kept your drive train and your chain a lot nicer and they didn't get all grindy. It was perfect."
With about 20 miles left to go, Swenson said he began to think a course record was a possibility.
"At the bottom of Park City Mountain Resort, I figured I could probably be close to six hours," he said. "I was trying to just stay on track and see if I could get down to 6:15 and ended up coming in right around there."
Still, though, he realized he had a lot of work to do.
"Once you get to the bottom of Park City Mountain Resort, you think you're kind of close, but in reality, you still have like 20 miles left," he said. "It's not so much the climbing that's hard — it's once you get to the top of Armstrong and you're going around Iron Mountain, it's so rocky and rough and by then you're so tired and so beat up you're not riding as smooth. You have to stay really focused."
Swenson was ahead of the pack by that point, though, so he didn't have to worry about other riders as much.
"I'd rather ride alone," he said. "Basically from Deer Valley on, I was solo, which works in my favor. I know the trails well and I can ride smooth. It helps to ride my own pace and go fast where I want to go fast and slow where I want to go slow."
Though he knows the trail system, Swenson said he was still glad he got to get out and preview sections of the course with professional road cyclist and Park City native Chris Putt of the Jelly Belly Cycling Team.
"Since his season was winding down, he was able to get out on the mountain bike and we did a couple of recon days and basically rode the whole course, which really helped," Swenson said. "It's nice to be able to check it out and to be able to ride with friends. I've been riding these trails my whole life, but to string them all together and know how it flows helps a bunch."
Swenson said he was glad he finally got to compete in the Point 2 Point, something he's wanted to do since he was much younger.
"It's the biggest race we have in town and it's one I've always wanted to do," he said. "Seeing Alex win it, I've always thought it'd be awesome to do. I did it once as a duo team when I was younger, but I really wanted to do the whole thing. For me to win it on my first go, I was really stoked."
He hopes to return to the race next year (if his professional schedule doesn't interfere) and said he'd like to compete against Grant, who, after winning the first six Point 2 Point races, has missed the last two years with injuries.
"I'd love to get back and do it again, especially with Alex — that'd be really fun," he said. "He's one of the best at it and has won it so many times."
For the full results of the 2016 Park City Point 2 Point, please see the Scoreboard on page B-5.