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Wouldn't you love to do a 12+ hour endurance race and NOT have to ride in circles? Something 100% rideable and not a death march? Zero fire roads? Not a ski lift in sight?Ever dream of visiting the Last Frontier of Alaska AND shredding 100 miles of the sweetest single track you've ever seen at the foot of magnificent peaks and hanging glaciers? All at 80 degrees? The 2nd Annual Soggy Bottom 100 on Alaska's Resurrection Trail hosted (and nearly toasted) some 30 riders last weekend on the devastatingly beautiful and accessible Kenai Peninsula.

The course started with a 4-mile roll out to the Resurrection Trailhead at sea level in picturesque Hope, Alaska. From there a steady 20-mile climb to the summit at 2,600 feet followed by a brief plateau draped in crimson tundra and golden folliage. Eighteen miles of rockin' and rollin' descent to the first check-point at Cooper Landing about 42 miles into the race. The afternoon sun baked the tender Alaskans more accustomed to cool summers and winter's sub-zero temperatures. The riders experienced a tender balance among heat, hydration, and consumption of calories--and the consequences of not managing the triad well. Darren Mattingly was first into Cooper Landing at just around 3.5 hours (unreal!) followed closely behind by Eric Parsons, Jeremiah Bell, Andy Pohl, Jayme Stull (not necessarily in that order) and a slew of others hot on the leader's tail.

What goes down must go up (or something to that effect): the course turned around at Cooper Landing and what was once a screaming 18-mile descent becomes a grind back up to the junction of Resurrection and Devil's Passes. This time the course veers right down a steep, 10-mile loose ribbon of trail frought with tube-slicing water bars and switchbacks that'd hurl you off the mountain like a bucking horse. WATCH THOSE SWITCHBACKS! Many of us lagging behind switched modes occasionally from racers to cheerleaders as the race leaders ground painfully back up Devils Pass. Faces visibly strewn with pain, the ardure of the heat, salt-crusted skin caked with dust, quads screaming in agony. Still, the climbers muster a "Way to go" to those of us yet to complete the descent.

Pain turns to ecstasy as the climb back up Devil's Pass joins the Resurrection Trail once again, veering right for a short burst up and over Resurrection Summit, heading north toward the finish line. Ahead is 20 sweet miles of narrow and fast DOWNHILL single track. The trail snakes in and out of spruce forest, around blind outside corners, down and out of creek beds, and finally emerges where the Pass spills out to the ocean in Hope!

Riders still out on the trail after darkness fell (10:00 p.m.) were treated to an amazing display of the northern lights! Pain, cramping, exhaustion, and mental anguish were soothed by this incredible aurora of Mother Nature. It don't get much better than this, folks!!!

In the end, Darren Mattingly captured 1st for the second year in a time of 9:43, followed by Eric Parsons (on a 29er) 16 minutes later. No laps, no fire roads, just 100 miles of singletrack through the great Alaskan wilderness.

For more race description, please visit the Alaska Forum of this website, or check out: www.soggybottom100.com
 
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