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21st Race Across America (RAAM) -

San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ, June 15-June 27, 2003

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Day 12 - June 26

A Father's Son

Atlantic City, NJ, 10:00PM, June 25 RAAM Time. I am not the media. I am not a reporter. I'm an emotional man who chose to support an amazing sporting event and for three years they have let me.

Tonight's banquet for finishers of Race Across America was an exercise in emotion embraced and feelings released. My attempt to be brave when every feeling in my body was to cry for a son lost too soon.

Champions were crowned tonight. Allen Larsen, such a magnificent man, accepted his 1st place award with dignity. He rode like a man possessed. He is, the good way. He told us he would win. He kept his promise.

Team Harreither, in the person of Captain Reinhard Hormann, was respectful and grateful. He accepted the awards for his team whose members are already speeding back to Austria.

I came to Race Across America because of my friendship with Jim Pitre. I have known this strong man for 10 years. When his passion for cycling translated into this mammoth undertaking, I knew I had to follow.

Emceeing tonight was a devastating thing to do. Telling the large crowd we needed to celebrate Brett Malin's life and not mourn his tragic death - was a pitch I couldn't follow. It's true the racers of RAAM deserve a full, clean blessing of their remarkable achievements. I hope they understood if the undercurrent of pain and empathy colored every blue.

I will cry later. I don't admit that for any purpose other than a need to be honest. Honest to be a father. Honest to feel the worst pain a father could ever feel. The pain of burying a child.

I'm 2,800 miles away from my boys. And I yearn to hold them. They won't know why I'm squeezing so tight, but I'll show them pictures of Brett and explain just how much RAAM had to endure while I was gone from home.

Tomorrow, I will get back the focus of sharing my thoughts about the race in progress.

Until then, I close this report with a tribute that I delivered for Brett Malin tonight:

I can see a little boy with a mischievous grin, asking a lot of questions but not always standing still enough to hear the answers. A boy with a insatiable hunger for fun, speed, and excitement…ways to run…

I can imagine what Brett and best friend Andy thought was a really great sandwich, made in the dark during a 3-day power outage, only to find that their tasty culinary creation's zesty flavor was actually due to excessive mold.

Brett loved "creative mischief"…but it was never mean spirited. Tee-pee a house…jump a fence or two…the day he mixed biology with home ec and made frog cookies…

Yeah, Brett was a troublemaker but in a sweet, honest, and endearing way.

As a teenager he asked Mom and Dad for a road bike because it was "Cool!"

He got one.

And Brett Malin stayed very much a boy even when he became a man.

In the winter when weather took away the roads, Brett plunged into snow. He was a Snowboarder, a mighty Shredder.

Brett knew one speed, wide open. His smile could overpower you, bright, alive, innocent, overflowing with happiness.

Brett wasn't really in a hurry…it's just that speed made the world come into focus, like a "Matrix" movie action shot of split second adrenaline that felt like slow-motion to him.

Early in his career he found himself in a field packed with veterans, professional cyclists at the top of their game. Brett, unfazed, tore off at the start…not just being aggressive, not just trying to obliterate the field…he pumped his legs as hard and fast as he could…when the other racers eventually caught up and passed him…Brett was introduced to a concept he would always battle…

Control was something Brett struggled with. His energy and impatience at odds with waiting, holding back, tempering…it wasn't natural to him, he was a racer.

His Mom, Marilyn Malin, died last year. And how she loved her boy. She knew she would hold Brett again, years from now. Tonight, Mom has her baby with her.

In our hearts and minds, we can remember Brett for the positive force he was.

When can also know that in death, all pain is wiped away.

His Mom doesn't have cancer anymore, and Brett is still the world class athlete who knows how to fly.

The Boys of Summer

Atlantic City, 9:30AM RAAM Time. Marcel Knaus, Rick Ashabranner, Dino Nico Valsesia,

Terry Lansdell and Martin Lorenz all finished with a 17 hour period on Wednesday, making it the busiest solo finish line day of Race Across America 2003.

Marcel Knaus, the police officer from Liechtenstein, looks so frail but looks belie a strong body and an even stronger mind. In one of the closest finishes ever, Marcel coasted into the boardwalk at 2:51AM only 26 minutes after RAAM Legend Rob Kish to capture 4th place.

Livermore, California's Rick Ashabranner kicked off "Breakfast at RAAM" with a mid-morning arrival. His lovely wife, Irene, and infant baby, Megan, were thrilled to see husband and Daddy make it in safely for 5th place.

RAAM's youngest solo competitor Dino Nico Valsesia at 32 (thank good I'm not mispronouncing it this time) captured 6th place by finishing an hour after Rick. He's patient with my problem with the Italian language, he's got a great smile and showed extraordinary strength by hoisting his bike above his head for a lengthy photo opportunity.

I can't express my happiness to see Charlotte, North Carolina's Terry Lansdell capture 7th place at 1:24PM. He is such a gentle, thoughtful man.

There is a very special award given by Race Across America every year. Named after a outstanding person of cycling Ian Sandbach (1937 to 1999), the "Ian Sandbach Inspiration Award" was presented last night.

It's given to the individual who goes beyond what's expected of them. How they coped or overcame adversity to keep competing, to compete with a sense of fair play and sportsmanship.

The choice was unanimous this year. Terry Lansdell.

This veteran RAAM racer withstood physical pain after a crash, which hurt his right shoulder. He battled on for his personal best performance.

Before the race, Terry instructed his crew to help any fellow racer who needed it.

When Jure Robic needed a bottom bracket for his bike, Terry's crew gave the Slovenian Rookie one of Lansdell's spare bikes - Jure went to win 2nd place this year.

When Terry and crew came up on Marko Baloh experiencing heart pains in West

Virginia - it was the Lansdell crew that made the 911 call that got Marko help.

Terry Lansdell is a humble man with a heart as big as his love for cycling.

It's only right that in a year when Terry does so much for others, he finishes with the best performance of his Race Across America career.

On behalf of the officials, and staff of RAAM, the recipient of the "2003 Ian Sandbach Inspirational Award"…the gentleman of RAAM, Terry Lansdell.

Hundreds of cheering RAAMsters, the band, Liquid Blue, blarin'…and the boardwalk alive with curious visitors and TV cameras rolling…Martin Lorenz of Switzerland got a champion's welcome.

The 2000 RAAM "Rookie of the Year" battled the course and finished 8th last night at 7:30PM. He was overwhelmed by the crowd and enjoyed spraying his faithful crew with the victor's champagne gift before enjoying an elegant toast.

Last night's banquet was difficult. The attempt to pay tribute, and yet to present in an energized, interesting way, a lot of factors pulling at each other…many purists were disappointed, some thought it was great.

Reviews matter, but they really shouldn't. We did our best, based on our own vision, passion, beliefs, prudent decision making, and spontaneity.

That, after all, is what RAAM is all about.

A Dream Realized

Atlantic City, 5:00PM RAAM Time. Istvan Makk from Antioch, California had a bad stomach in 2002.

He was disappointed with last year's DNF. He came to the start in San Diego confident, prepared.

Now 11 days, 2 hours, 32 minutes later, Ish Makk's RAAM dream has come true, finishing Race Across America for the 1st time and taking 9th place overall in the solo division.

Only one man over 40 years old beat him. That man is RAAM's most dominant champion Rob Kish. Not bad at all being second to Rob.

Meeting him at the finish line, his fabulous wife Nonni, and the hard working Makk Crew. They joked about their individual odors and smiles of relief were everywhere.

Ish is clearly one of the better-liked racers. He goes out of his way with a kind word, helpful advice. Despite pain in a heavily wrapped right knee, he is accommodating to the protocol of the finish line ceremony. Flowers, finisher medallion, rider plaque, hand shakes, interviews, photos…He stands, weight on one leg, and endures it all.

About his bum leg, he is philosophical.

"Last year it was GI, now my leg went south. I guess it was a plan…I didn't worry about my stomach, my leg hurt too badly", Ish mused.

These are the finishes of RAAM that mean the most to me. These brave men are out there longer, granted with more sleep than the top finishers, but they push themselves as far as their bodies and minds will let them…and then a couple of hundred more miles beyond that.

Ish Makk was looking for a steak. Not just any steak, the "best prime beef " he can find.

Considering one of our top sponsors are our hosts, The Atlantic City Convention and Visitor's Authority…he didn't have any trouble getting recommendations.

Finishing RAAM at Makk speed!

Great job, Istvan!

Results, 2921.7 miles

Men's Solo                           Time     Distance  Average
1 Allen Larsen                       8d 23.36  2921.7  (13.55 mph)
2 Jure Robic                         9d 14.48  2921.7  (12.66 mph)
3 Rob Kish                           9d 16.29  2921.7  (12.57 mph)
4 Marcel Knaus                       9d 16.45  2921.7  (12.55 mph)
5 Rick Ashabranner                   9d 22.44  2921.7  (12.24 mph)
6 Dino Nico Valsesia                 9d 23.43  2921.7  (12.19 mph)
7 Terry Lansdell                    10d 03.18  2921.7  (12.01 mph)
8 Martin Lorenz                     10d 09.24  2921.7  (11.71 mph)
9 Ish Makk                          11d 02.32  2921.7  (10.96 mph)
10 Keith Krombel                    11d 09.53  2859.6  (10.44 mph)
11 Beny Furrer                      11d 06.34  2760.9  (10.20 mph)
12 Attila Kaldi                     11d 10.24  2760.9  (10.06 mph)
13 Paul Bonds                       11d 07.54  2715.1  (9.99 mph)
Solo (Withdrawn)
1 Marko Baloh (medical)              8d 09.59  2448.5  (12.12 mph)
2 Mark Patten (no reason)            8d 12.33  2150.0  (10.51 mph)
3 Rebecca Smith (water retention)    7d 23.56  1887.2  (9.83 mph)
4 Fabio Biasiolo (water retention)   5d 16.02  1760.8  (12.94 mph)
5 Fredi Virag - (dehydration)        0d 10.16   120.7  (11.76 mph)
Two Person Men's Team
1 Rieper / Goodwin                   7d 15.56  2921.7  (15.88 mph)
2 Epic Racing                        7d 21.00  2921.7  (15.46 mph)
Four Person Men's Team
1 Team Harreither/VAV Versich        6d 06.13  2921.7  (19.45 mph)
2 Areté Racing                       6d 15.03  2921.7  (18.37 mph)
3 Team FOI                           7d 02.48  2921.7  (17.11 mph)
4 Power of Mind                      7d 03.42  2921.7  (17.02 mph)
Four Person Mixed Team
1 Team Hydro Charge                  6d 16.33  2921.7  (18.20 mph)
2 Grupo Guapo by Healthy Cho         7d 15.30  2921.7  (15.92 mph)
Corporate Team
1 Team Insight                       6d 17.32  2921.7  (18.09 mph)
2 Ride To Remember                   6d 19.20  2921.7  (17.89 mph)
Teams (Withdrawn)
1 Team Vail - Go Fast                1d 07.00   631.2  (20.36 mph)