The Lutsen 99er, which debuted four years ago with just 80 riders, was sold out Saturday, with more than 1,300 participants across the 99-, 39- and 19-mile races, all of which commenced at Lutsen Ski Resort.
The Lutsen 99er also includes a shorter distance race of 39 miles and riders of both distances were rounded up just outside Rosie’s chalet at the Lutsen Ski Resort in the Sawtooth Mountains. The description of the race touted beautiful scenery comprised of lush forestry, lake views and glacially sculpted terrain, a truly accurate portrayal.
The Lutsen 99er has a substantial amount of forest roads, logging roads and full sized dirt roads as part of the course. Organizers also work in a mix of snowmobile trails along with a couple of shorter single and double track sections to stitch everything together into one cohesive route.
The course is exceptionally well marked and the aid/food stations are among the best supported I’ve seen. In addition to the abundant food and drink, their volunteers were everywhere making sure people were headed in the right direction, locating their drop bags, etc. The dirt road portions were fast paced with several riders working together in packs to take advantage of draft opportunities. Following the completion of two laps of a roughly 20 mile loop deep in the woods outside Grand Marais, and having completed about 60 miles in total, riders begin to make their way back towards Lutsen. The forest/logging road that racers have to navigate was marred by water hole after water hole; several areas were thick with mud that made picking and holding your line both challenging and critical to clearing each of these spots intact.
So started off again on my 3rd Lutsen 99er in the 99 mile race. This time I was hoping that this be good race. Considering more experience in doing these endurance events. As I did a warmup race in May 2014 for 100 miler in Ohio of the Mohican 100. Should be all set.
Now I think i have my preplan down. I have all my nutrition plan here. Camelbak full of water, and a tablet of electrolyte in it. and a big water bottle full of Perpeteum as my on the bike nutrition source. As well many Hammer Nutriton gels in my back pockets. So we wait and see. So time is counting down and there is a big crowd of people in all 3 groups/ 99 miler, 39 and 19.
So they play the anthem prior to the event and then everyone is off. the 99 miler group first. We all head down the big hill at a control pace of 15 mph. As its more of a prologue then actual race. Turn left onto HWY 61 doing north for a few miles still at a medium pace. Moving around in the group. It seems a variety of types of bike and riders. From people in full race gear and bikes. To people riding beach cruisers, fat bikes, single speeds, and cross bikes. So makes a quite interesting match.
So anyways doing down the road all of a sudden hear a big crash from behind. Ends up some guy and 4 others from what i see crashed. One going over handlebars and bikes all over the road. Hope all is well. Not sure what the results of that in the end.
So now group turns up on to the Caribou trail road. I noticed the 39miler group has raced passed us. As they have a much lower distance to cover and more less a different type of event.
I decide to number crunch this event this time. Push it to numbers i have from last years stats and keep it going. More less ride my own race and not worry who passes me or who i pass.
The first climb for all riders was a Category 3,on the caribou trail taking our physical beings up over 1000 feet in about 5 miles and leaving any doubts of a serious race day down around mile 2. At the top of the Himalayan Mountains, the 39ers rode on and the 99er’s took a hard right, entering the right of passage. From ski trails, snowmobile trails and forest roads, riders were greeted with the unexpected. From this point on it got quite interesting. Many areas of lots of mud and have to really watch your lines.
After a long but great first stage. Make it to the first aid station. On route I see a rider with the 39miler number plate going in opposite direction. Seems he is on wrong route. I like to wonder what happened to him. I was feeling great and supplies were good on my end so i continue riding to the Devils Track area. This part is 2 laps of a loop combining trail and some dirt road. Always gets me every time. Probably the most technical part of the entire race. Here is start to consume of my perpeteum and some hammer gels. Get the calories going before its too late. So do the first loop of the trail system. Was quite rough on my part and takes away your energy big time. Not very dangerous at all, just lots of high frequency bumps and rocks. I have to ride slower then others just to get through it all, but that is how it is. After one loop back onto the dirt road and make to the aid station. at this point i am riding with mid pack and everyone is pushing hard. It is a two way route and i see the 99ers riders from back of the pack starting the trail system, Stop at the aid station, refill my water, fill up camel bak and enjoy some peanut butter sandwich for energy.
Then continue again for my 2nd loop. 2nd loop seems much harder going slower. On halfway point see the lead pack go by and all are pushing well. I complete all of the devils lake area. And i am relieved that i dont have to see it for another year. Back on dirt road and i feel a small cramp in left quad so i take a capsule of some Hammer products electrolytes and its all goes away. Stop at aid station again before continue with the rest of the course. At this point feeling strong and confident a bit weaker. checking stats I am still ahead of my time from previous years.
Continue on from here to the next aid station. Now we are riding on a series of fire roads etc. Very very muddy. lots of puddles and the water is warm and slimy. With lots of horse flies everywhere. Nonstop, some hills. Able to keep a steady pace all way through. Follow the lines of others through each puddle and keep a good pace. Other guys as i can see are suffering quite a bit. but its good suffering.
So onward then and make it to a nice dirt road. Seems easy but really is difficult stretch but a nice change of pace. Once here turn the corner and make it to a smaller aid station. Once again i have to fill up all my water. at this point i was pouring water on my head to get extra water on me.
Then continue on another stretch of road and then another two trail, with lots of mud and ruts. Nice area and a few downhills. Finally make it to another aid station. Have more food and fill up on water. Once again grateful for all of this. as i would probably suffer from dehydration without at the stations. Then onward to the almost last part of the course. On another dirt road that just seemed endless. Lots of twists and turns and many many uphills. Lots of gravel. Finally after a steady climb make it to the final aid station. Here its only 5 mile till end or so. I have to fill up on gatorade again. But only way to do it. finally leave and take on final stretch. last part is fun, riding on trail that virally a pig farm, smells like it. its the old trail system of lutsen. So after a nice climb, go on a small decent, across the bridge and finally a turn to sign that says end is near. One rider goes past me and then we are out on the open. one can see the finish line is near. So just to give a good show. i sprint past the guy in front . i cross the finish line in a personal best time from last year. over an hour better then last. So all training paid off. One of the best race courses to do. yes I will be doing it again for 2015!!
Thanks Adam and Peter for the good work in making Lutsen 99er a great success.
Lutsen 99er 2014 – Main Results of Top Riders
Personal Best from 2013 hour better in time
Rank Athlete Bib Time 1 Jason Johnson 883 02:07:42 2 Fitzgerald Ryan 1226 02:07:42 3 Darcy Cornish 746 02:07:55 4 Calder Glowac 817 02:09:04 5 Matt Zak 1214 02:13:44
Rank Athlete Bib Time 1 Michael Naughton 404 05:51:49 2 Jeff Hall 205 05:52:31 3 Garth Prosser 459 05:52:43 4 Kasey Bacso 361 05:54:26 5 Matthew Ryan 485 06:08:08
- 19 Mile
Athlete Bib Time 1 Robert Wharton 1393 01:11:11 2 Collin Maynard 1355 01:13:46 3 Jake Condon 1316 01:16:19 4 Logan Frantz 1333 01:23:30 5 Sara Johnson 1397 01:24:2