July 14, 2015
Race Across America Newsletter

2015 Race Recap - Part 1 of 4



Severin Zotter
 The top male and female finishers were Severin Zotter (Austria) and Isabelle Pulver (Switzerland) - both first-time RAAM racers.  This year's Solo race featured another strong international race field with 41 racers (36 male and 5 female) from 17 countries.  The overall Solo finish rate was 51%.  Weather and road construction had a significant impact on the 34th Race Across America. 



Weather always plays a role in RAAM as it affects overall speed, impacts positioning and makes or breaks record attempts.  This year heat in the Desert Southwest was 5-10 F hotter than it's been over the past decade.  Winds and storms in Kansas are always tricky as the Great Plains are typically where major air masses collide - many participants faced unrelenting headwinds this year.  Finally, torrential rainfall and flooding east of the Mississippi slowed the race field.  Construction also played a significant role in slowing down the racers.  There were an unusually large number of bridge replacement and re-surfacing projects.  Between the weather and road construction there were more single-lane restrictions and re-routes than we have ever experienced on RAAM.


Dave Haase

Notwithstanding the issues faced by racers and crew, we were treated to some great racing.  For only the second time in RAAM history the first place male and female solo divisions were won by first-time solo racers.  Severin Zotter (Austria) was top male covering the 3004-mile course in 8d:8h:17m - average speed 15.00 mph and Isabelle Pulver (Switzerland) was top female finishing in 10d:21h:7m - 11.16 mph.  The only other time both first place finishers were rookies was in 2012 when Trix

Adam Bickett

Zgraggen and Reto Schoch (both Switzerland) took home top honors.


Christoph Strasser (Austria), last year's winner and holder of the RAAM speed record, returned seeking another win and to become the only male to win 3 consecutive races.  Strasser and Zotter are both from the same region in Austria and frequently ride together.  They exchanged the lead in Arizona and Colorado.  Zotter took over the lead crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range and maintained his lead across the Great Plains.  Strasser developed a lung infection and retired from the race in Eastern Kansas.  David Haase (USA), racing his fifth RAAM, moved into second.  At the Mississippi River Zotter, Haase and Anders Tesgaard (Denmark), the first RAAM finisher from Denmark, racing in his third RAAM, were 1-2-3.  They were followed by Danes Peter Sandholt and Henning Larsen.  Tesgaard was forced to abandon due to a serious accident and was flown home this past weekend.  He remains in the hospital, and his family asks to respect his privacy.  For further updates, follow Anders' Facebook page.  Zotter finished first, Haase second (8d:20h:6m - 14.16 mph) and Sandholt third (9d:20h:48m - 12.69 mph).


Danes Sandholt, Larsen and Per Laursen took 3 of the top 6 places.  Last year Laursen withdrew due to heat exhaustion and extreme dehydration.  He came back this year to finish 6th - 10d:13h:49m - 11.84 mph.  This year marked Larsen's 3rd RAAM finish.  Adam Bickett (USA) developed pulmonary edema and was hospitalized briefly, but returned to the race and moved through the field to finish 8th in 10d:15h:53m - 11.74 mph.  Rob White (USA) suffered a broken collar bone but went on to finish in 10d:19h:52m - 11.56 mph.  Claudio Clarindo (Brazil) completed his 5th RAAM - 11d:23h:35m - 10.45 mph.


Norm Hageman (USA) was the sole finisher in the 50-59 age group - 11d:23h:33m - 10.45 mph and Herve Talabardon (France) was the sole finisher in the 60-69 age group - 12d:19h:32m - 9.77 mph.   

In the male under 50 age group 16 of 27 racers finished (59%), in the 50-59 group 1 of 6 finished (17%), in the 60-69 group 1 of 2 finished (50%) and the sole racer in the 70-74 group did not finish.


Isabelle Pulver
Four of the five racers in the solo women's field were RAAM veterans.  In the under 50 age group - for Joan Deitchman (Canada) this would be her third RAAM and Shusanah Pillinger (UK) her second, and in the 50-59 age group - Kathy Roche-Wallace (USA) her third and Seana Hogan (USA) her ninth.  Pulver, racing in the under 50 age group, was the only rookie.  Hogan has won more RAAMs than any other racer - male or female - with 6 wins.  She also holds the female RAAM speed record - 13.23 mph (1995).  Roche-Wallace holds the 50-59 age group record - 9.83 mph (2011).  Pillinger sustained a broken collar bone and dropped out of the 2014 race and was looking to finish what she started.


Although racing in different age groups, it appeared that at one point or another, all five were racing each other.  The order changed many times before things began to sort out.  Hogan and Roche-Wallace would both retire from the race - Hogan at the Mississippi River and Roche-Wallace in Athens, Ohio.  Pulver went on to become the winner, Deitchman second (11d:5h:9m - 11.16 mph) and Pillinger third (12d:9h:14m - 10.11 mph).  Deitchman with three RAAM finishes (2012, 2014, 2015) joined a very elite group - female racers with 3 or more RAAM finishes.  Others include Elaine Mariolle (USA)(1984, 1985, 1986), Muffy Ritz (USA)(1993, 1995, 1997) and Seana Hogan (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998).  Deitchman also became the first Canadian - male or female - to finish three RAAMs.  Pillinger became the first female finisher from the UK.

Shu Pillinger


Racers and their support crews are motivated by many things - winning, setting records, establishing personal bests, raising money for charity.  Few records were set this year.  Weather and road construction combined to foil many record attempts.  Nevertheless, there were some, among them Talabardon became the oldest solo RAAM finisher at 69 years old with a very respectable ride.  He had three former Tour de France racers on his support crew.  That record was previously held by Peter Lekisch (USA)(60), Fred Boethling (USA)(61) and David Jones (USA)(64).  There are now 10 members in the 60+ club and there is considerable talk regarding who will be the first 70+ solo RAAM finishe


This year the solo race field was comprised of racers from 17 countries - 12 (29%) from the USA and 29 (71%) from outside the USA.  Racers represented Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden, UK and USA.  Racers from 9 countries would become finishers.  Austria and Denmark topped the list with 4 each - Zotter, Strasser, Franz Preihs and Gerhard Gulewicz from Austria and Sandholt, Larsen, Laursen and Tesgaard from Denmark.  France followed with 3 - Arnaud Manzanini, Jacques Borreau and Talabardon.  Jose Bermudez (Colombia) would become that country's first solo RAAM finisher - 11d:16h:53m - 10.69 mph.


To better prepare racers for Solo RAAM we encourage potential participants to race RAAM Qualifying races and attend RAAM Seminars.  RQs were started with the idea of screening out unqualified participants, but they have become much more.  They are an opportunity for racers and crew to practice under race conditions.  Today there are more opportunities than ever - 30 races in 11 countries with more on the horizon.  In addition, RAAM offers Seminars in the off-season.


Congratulations to all of the 2015 Solo RAAM finishers and to each and every racer with the courage and self-confidence to start.  Thank you to all the support crews who make this possible.  And to those racers and crew who sustained injuries during this year's race, know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.  We wish you a speedy and complete recovery.

2016 RAAM/RAW Registration Opens

Tortour Switzerland

Tortour is the only RAAM Qualifier in Switzerland .  Actually, Tortour is comprised of two races - Tortour and Tortour Challenge.  Both start and finish in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.  Tortour - the RAAM Qualifier - is 1,000 km with 13,000 meters of climbing.  Tortour Challenge is shorter - 560 km.  Tortour is open to solo and 2, 4 and 6-person teams.  Tortour Challenge is open to solo and 2 and 3-person teams.


Both are structured with time stations every 50 km.  Teams cannot make exchanges between time stations - all exchanges must be done at the time stations.  Riders are required to check in and sign-off at each time station.


The Tortour route circumnavigates Switzerland - low traffic roads, farms and villages, and spectacular mountain scenery.  Racers leave Schaffhausen, heading southeast to Chur, southwest through the Alps, west to Interlaken and southwest to Aigle.  Leaving Aigle they pass by Lac Leman and Lac de Neuchatel heading northeast up the midlands along the foot of the Jura to Schaffhausen.


Tortour is an exceptionally well organized event - one of the best in the RQ System.  Tortour has become an important step in the road to RAAM.   Over the last five years, 5 of the 7 male and female Tortour winners went on to win RAAM.


Read More Here


RAAM Minnesota Cycling Challenge

This is the third event in the 2015 RAAM Cycling Challenge Series and this will be the 5th Anniversary of the Minnesota event.  There are two distances offered - 200 and 400 miles.  The races are open to solo racers as well as 2 and 4-person teams.  Both the 200 and 400-mile racers leave Lake Rebecca Park and head north following the Crow River. Both races are large loops around the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.


The 200-mile route crosses the Mississippi River at Champlin and heads east to the St. Croix River. Riders then head south along the west bank of the St. Croix passing through small river towns until they cross back over the Mississippi at Hastings.  From here they head west to Jordan, cross the Minnesota River, and turn north toward Lake Waconia and the finish.


The 400-mile riders cross the Mississippi River at Clearwater, continuing north and east passing through Princeton, Cambridge and North Branch before dropping into the St. Croix Valley at Taylors Falls. Riders cross the St. Croix and enter Wisconsin at Osceola. They head south through Somerset, River Falls and Ellsworth, then follow the east bank of the Mississippi, and cross back into Minnesota at Wabasha. From here they head upstream to Lake City, then west across rolling farmland through Red Wing to Cannon Falls.  They continue on through New Prague to Jordan where they cross the Minnesota River and follow the same route to the finish as the 200-mile racers.


The RAAM Minnesota Cycling Challenge is the only multi-distance ultra-endurance event in the Upper Midwest 5-state area.


Read More Here 

RAAM Qualifier Report


The Colorado RAAM Challenge will not be held this year as originally intended.  According to Fred Boethling, RAAM President/CEO and Team Get Outdoors Co-managing Partner, "This year RAAM was a week later than in years past.  This caused scheduling problems that impacted our ability to produce the quality of event we are accustomed to.  So, the decision was made to cancel this year's scheduled inaugural event.  We will re-schedule the inaugural Colorado event for the summer of 2016."



Xtreme Melfar 24-Hour Cycling Challenge (Middelfart, Denmark - June 6, 2015).  The top male was Tom Rey with 755.1 km - 31.6 kmh and the top female was Pia Egeberg with 527.2 km - 27.9 kmh.  There were several RAAM veterans participating in this popular Northern European event.


Coming Up

RAAM Minnesota Cycling Challenge (Lake Rebecca, MN - July 18, 2015)

Race Across Oregon (The Dalles, OR - July 18, 2015)

Mersey Roads RTTC 24-Hour National Championship (Cheshire, England - July 18, 2015)

TorTour (Schaffhausen, Switzerland - August 13, 2015)

Race Around Austria (St. Georgen im Attergau, Austria - August 12, 2015)

Mid-Atlantic 12/24-Hour (Washington, NC - August 22, 2015)


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