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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Race Across America begins Sunday

Once again, the most dedicated of the dedicated ultramarathon cyclists will take off Sunday on the Race Across America. The solo riders take off at noon PDT Sunday, while the teams don't take off until Wednesday,

There are some changes for this year's event. The biggest change is that the race ends in Annapolis, Md., instead of Atlantic City, N.J. That means there's a major reroute of the course from 100 miles east of the Mississippi River to the end.

Instead of taking the busy National Road (U.S. 40) corridor that RAAM has taken through Indiana and Ohio in recent years, the route will go through the Midwest cycling mecca of Bloomington, Ind.; the quaint German town of Oldenberg, Ind.; Chillicothe, Ohio; and Parkersburg, W.Va. After Parkersburg, the racers will face some challenging climbs in the Appalachian Mountains. Here's a description from RAAM:
As the road (U.S. 50) narrows, it climbs over the Eastern Divide at 3,000 feet above sea level, and then climbs again to the ominously named Mount Storm before dropping into Maryland. Some of the most intense grades of the entire race are found on scenic U.S. 40 in the forty miles between Cumberland and Hancock. The fourth of these climbs, Sideling Hill, subjects Racers to a 1,000-foot ascent in two miles.
The route, however, remains unchanged through the St. Louis region. The time stations will be at Marthasville, Mo.; West Alton, Mo.; and Greenville, Ill. The West Alton time station is just before the cyclists cross the Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River into Alton, Ill. I would expect the riders to start arriving in the St. Louis area either June 13 or June 14.

The western part of the RAAM course has been changed so that it goes through Taos, N.M.

Slovenian Jure Robic won the male solo edition of the 2007 Race Across America -- the third time he has won the race. Robic completed the 3,042.8 miles of the race in 8 days, 19 hours and 33 minutes. His average speed was 14.38 mph.

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