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21st Race Across America (RAAM) -
San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ, June 15-June 27, 2003
Day 10 - June 24
Baloh and Becca Withdraw
Race notes by Scott Johnson, RAAM HQ
Atlantic City, NJ, 6:00AM RAAM Time. Marko Baloh, the hard racing cyclist from Slovenia, and Rebecca Smith, the nurse from Portland and sole RAAM woman soloist, have both withdrawn from Race Across America.
Complaining of chest pains, Marko was admitted to a hospital outside Parkersburg, West Virginia. Many felt Marko would be a top finisher as a RAAM Rookie. He certainly has been in the mix from the very beginning, began slowing and last checked in (prior to personally calling to withdraw early this morning) at 9:20AM Monday, the 23rd.
Marko was a favorite this year, based on his 2nd place performance at the Race Across the Alps in 2001 and other 24-hour events in the past two years.
I'm sure baby Ana is pleased with Daddy's decision.
So many people were pulling for Rebecca Smith. She battled on valiantly relenting to physical ailments in Missouri near the Illinois border. She, and all those that care for her, can celebrate the 1,887 miles she officially raced.
A great end to a first full 24 hours of finishes was highlighted by the arrival of two teams, 8 men and crews you would go to war with.
Team FOI (Florida Orthopedic Institute) arrived at the boardwalk at dusk. The Sun provided a perfect key light and the gentleman from Tampa Bay were bathed in it as they hugged and shared the moment.
7 days, 2 hours, 38 minutes proclaimed the effort, but unspoken was the impact this race had on this special team. John Small, Larry Collins David Leffers and Adam Morse rode the roller coaster of emotions that is RAAM.
David Leffers, the senior member of the team, and an orthopedic surgeon in Tampa, could not speak, overcome with emotion, at the finish line. Later I asked him to try and describe some of what he's feeling.
"This race requires so much. It takes so much from you…sacrifices, focus. I got sick and for 12 hours they had to cover me…(he pauses to regain his composure)…You do what you have do in RAAM. The tragedy with Brett…remember what I said in San Diego? 'Arrive Alive!'…it turns out to have more meaning now", David said.
The man that played Rugby cried some more. He didn't apologize, I told him it was the strongest thing he could do.
Allen Larsen, an American Champion
Atlantic City, NJ, 11:30AM RAAM Time. The 2003 Insight Race Across America feels great today.
Allen Larsen, the 37-year old Washington State phenom, is Champion of the "World's Toughest Race"
He raced 2,922 miles like a world-class veteran. This was his 2nd RAAM after having placed 3rd last year and winning "Rookie of the Year".
Allen's spectacular performance of 8 days, 23 hours, 36 minutes is the stuff that makes RAAM unique to the world.
Moments after finishing the finish line on the famous boardwalk, Allen's beautiful wife Teresa kissed her husband. Seconds later, Allen was holding his family, tightly feeling his young daughter Kimbrlee and infant, Faith. His body shook not from fatigue of battle but from the forceful love for his babies. The tears began and would not stop for a while.
This is a special man: A brilliant cyclist, an empowered believer in Christ, a caring husband and father.
Allen is the kind of Sports Champion America needs. He cherishes the gifts in his life and will never squander or embarrass them.
What a great day - Allen's home safely (finish line home) and with his family.
Mathematically, it's rare.
Two different teams depart the starting line together, and arrive at the finish line the same way 7 ½ days later.
Team Grupo Guapo Healthy Choice Carpet Cleaners and Team Goodwin/Rieper made the 2,922 journey and in a very competitive, athletic way "spooned" a lot.
Henry Trease, a race official with 3 years of RAAM experience, said he witnessed the amazing competition.
"We were spying on them!"
In years past, stories of inspiration had to be cultivated. In 2003, they come pouring forward like unstoppable tears for huge losses and incredible gains.
With the arrival of Team Grupo Guapo (Handsome Group), the heroic effort of three adults, John Wagoner, Sr., Iva Hradilova and Robert Brudvik, is nothing less than inspiring. They completed RAAM in 7 days, 15 hours, 30 minutes. They raced for themselves and for John Wagoner, Jr. a 14-year old boy who has endured a young life of pain and sickness. He was sleepy this morning but very proud, in a way a teenager shows it, of his Dad and their team.
Byron Rieper, and Russ Goodwin are physically and emotionally different - but they arrived together looking like brothers, 7 days, 15 hours, 56 after the start in San Diego.
Byron lost 16 pounds, Russ gained a huge amount of respect for his partner and the race. The crew for Reiper/Goodwin went through huge machinations but survived to follow their dynamic duo to the Atlantic Ocean.
Mark Patten , a quality cyclist and great friend of RAAM, DNFed at time station
#38 in Indianapolis More details on him and the rest of the field later. Team
Epic is fast approaching and I have to jump on the mic and welcome in John Tis
and Robert Zieber.
A Race of Epic Proportions
Atlantic City, NJ, 2:00PM RAAM Time. Racing across America is one thing. Doing so, with severe sleep deprivation is another thing. Both, while occasionally slipping off the shoulder and crashing, is something all together different.
Robert Zieber cherishes his RAAM experiences and his accomplishment but not the mishaps that banged up his bike, his shoulder, and his phyche. His right shoulder is sore, I know because I kept trying to pat it. He even fell getting of his bike on the boardwalk…cyclists shoes are brutal to walk on. Robert looks forward to a couple of days recouping, on his feet.
John Tis didn't wreck as much and kind of felt bad about it. He was grateful to have survived this monster of a race. A pediatric orthopedic surgeon, John knows about growing pains of a different sort. Doing RAAM takes a mature adult and it also brings out the child in us.
Congratulations to Team Epic Racing for crossing America in 7 days, 21 hours, 0 minutes.
What's up between Jure Robic, the professional soldier from Slovenia, and RAAM
3-time Champion, Rob Kish of Florida?
Jure is making up ground and maintaining a good pace. Kish is searching for his seventh 2nd place finish…another record (ho, hum).
The next 8 hours will determine everything. Danny Chew says if it's a matter of who can best handle sleep deprivation in the stretch, his fellow champion Kish has the advantage.
This is getting interesting.
Men's Solo 1 Allen Larsen 2921.7 (13.55 mph) 2 Jure Robic 2859.6 (12.59 mph) 3 Rob Kish 2859.6 (12.59 mph) 4 Marcel Knaus 2812.7 (12.46 mph) 5 Rick Ashabranner 2715.1 (12.05 mph) 6 Dino Nico Valsesia 2715.1 (11.97 mph) 7 Terry Lansdell 2675.2 (11.94 mph) 8 Martin Lorenz 2675.2 (11.79 mph) 9 Ish Makk 2538.9 (11.43 mph) 10 Keith Krombel 2406.1 (10.65 mph) 11 Beny Furrer 2315.1 (10.53 mph) 12 Attila Kaldi 2264.3 (10.13 mph) 13 Paul Bonds 2205.1 (9.80 mph) Solo (Withdrawn) 1 Marko Baloh (medical) 2448.5 (12.12 mph) 2 Mark Patten (no reason) 2150.0 (10.51 mph) 3 Rebecca Smith (water retention) 1887.2 (9.83 mph) 4 Fabio Biasiolo (water retention) 1760.8 (12.94 mph) 5 Fredi Virag (dehydration) 120.7 (11.76 mph) Two Person Men's Team 1 Rieper / Goodwin 2921.7 (15.88 mph) 2 Epic Racing 2921.7 (15.46 mph) Four Person Men's Team 1 Team Harreither/VAV Versich 2921.7 (19.45 mph) 2 Areté Racing 2921.7 (18.37 mph) 3 Team FOI 2921.7 (17.11 mph) 4 Power of Mind 2921.7 (17.02 mph) Four Person Mixed Team 1 Team Hydro Charge 2921.7 (18.20 mph) 2 Grupo Guapo by Healthy Cho 2921.7 (15.92 mph) Corporate Team 1 Team Insight 2921.7 (18.09 mph) 2 Ride To Remember 2921.7 (17.89 mph) Teams (Withdrawn) 1 Team Vail - Go Fast 631.2 (20.36 mph)