In it’s 8th year the Park City Point 2 Point continues to establish itself as a favorite of racers throughout the country. Over 75 miles, the P2P circumnavigates the resort town of Park City, Utah, while traversing the Wasatch mountains and the two world-class ski resorts of Deer Valley and Park City Mountain.
A classic fall scene greeted the riders as the maples of the Wasatch range speckled the 9,000 foot peaks with shades of red and yellow while temperatures on race day hovered in the mid-seventies. Overnight rains tamped down the dust on a landscape that hadn’t seen rain in almost 80 days.
Riders were twitching with anticipation as Fruit Loops, fired from the traditional P2P potato gun, rained from the sky signifying the start of the race.
The race was won by Keegan Swenson (Cannondale) who posted a mind-bending time of 6:11:04, winning the race over Ben Sonntag (Clif Bar), and Rob Squire (Felt/Assos).
Colorado-based rider Gretchen Reeves took the women’s title, her second win of the Park City event. Marlee Dixon (Pivot/DNA Cycling) crossed the line in second followed by Sofia Gomez-Villafane (Competitive Cyclist).
While it’s a premier event attracting top pro racers, the Park City Point 2 Point isn’t only about those racers. Originator of several unique event promotions, the Point 2 Point strives to provide a rewarding experience for everyone. A raffle just for showing up to the pre-race meeting sent one rider home with a $500 cooler from Yeti. The “I’m Somebody” award graced Robert Mc Donald with a brand Sub 20 townie bike from Scott simply for being the 68th rider to cross the finish line last Saturday.
The most difficult of all awards to take home from the Point 2 Point however is the Red Lantern award for the final rider to finish the race. While the race winner completed the course in just over 6 hours the annual Red Lantern winner usually rolls in closer to the 12 hour mark, a truly heroic effort that takes all the strength and perseverance someone has, an effort that should clearly be rewarded. This year Lyna Saffell (Bingham’s Cyclery) persevered with a time of 12:23:45. Lyna was greeted at the finish by her husband Bob and the traditional red lantern along with a portable shower provided by RinseKit. Lyna is a veteran and finisher of multiple editions of the Point 2 Point but this one may have been her most challenging. At the finish she shared some of her thoughts:
I do the Point 2 Point because of the super fun trail system, it’s a well run event and to challenge myself. I wasn’t the last rider on the course until Armstrong trail (the final long climb on the course at about 2,000 vertical feet). I thought about turning around a lot. In fact, I have never entertained the idea of calling it quits for as long as I did on Armstrong. We all know Armstrong is a gradual smooth climb and I am walking, riding, walking, riding. Other riders would cheer me on or ask if I was ok when they passed. I was pretty frustrated with myself but I had already ridden 58 miles. So, if I did turn around now, would I be ok with it tomorrow?
I didn’t have a mechanical or a crash or even a single flat. My body just didn’t want to go anymore.
I forced myself to eat even though I felt sick to my stomach and keep moving forward. I looked up and saw Ed Chauner (former director of the Intermountain Cup)! All of a sudden it took me back to when I first started riding/racing in the Intermountain Cup racing series and smiled. He gave me a biker push and next thing I knew I made it to Mid-Mountain trail. No turning back on Mid-Mountain. No bale out points. I knew once I was on that trail I had made my choice. As, I neared the Colony, I was hopeful of a Coke. And, YES! there was a Coke waiting for me. There was talk of the first finisher completed the course in 6 hours and something. I looked down at my Garmin and felt discouraged. Ten miles left, at least 5 of that would be descending. Ok, even if I have to walk five miles I can do it.
I am not going to lie, there were some dark thoughts, even tears, but I want to finish this thing. It is a bit uncomfortable how close you get to your inner self. But I chose this, I wanted this, I freely elected to participate in this.
“Riding my bike is a gift”, Bob says this all the time. He is right. It is a gift. Just like all the trees and turning leaves. But when I am physically suffering it can be hard to remember. All, I can say, is I was so happy to cross the finish line. For me, it is about finishing. I felt so loved and supported when I finished. I have the best hubby and some amazing friends.
I’ll be back next year. Maybe as a volunteer, maybe as a racer. But the truth is, sometimes we don’t know if we get to do something again. So, for today, I am really happy I pushed through the darkness, it sure is bright now.
After the crossing the line riders and spectators spread out onto the lush lawn surrounding the finishing at Canyons Resort. Both exhausted and elated, riders of all levels spun tales of their shared 75-mile struggles over free drinks and meals provided by the event organizers. After 8 years the quality of the Park City Point 2 Point remains high; from the race course to the volunteers and race organizers, this five-star event keeps packing in the participants year after year.
Registration for the 2017 Park City Point 2 Point is February 15th at 7PM MST. The event has sold out in under 10 minutes that past 6 years so get ready!