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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 6 - June 20

Our Papa

Race notes by Scott Johnson, RAAM HQ

Missouri Border at Daybreak. I'm dedicating my snapshots of RAAM 2003 in memory of Brett Malin. He died Tuesday at the age of 30 competing in a race he loved. And even if he had lived to a ripe old age, he still would have contained the same innocence and joy of sports he shared with the world so abundantly.

Team Insight is more than just one of two corporate challenge teams competing this year. Insight has infused Race Across America with a myriad of innovations all intended to insure the race's future: Prize money, expanded divisions, the enhanced role of time stations, and many more attractions intended to open up RAAM for the world.

Tim Crown, CEO of Insight, stood at the starting line in San Diego on Monday watching his employees like a proud Dad. He took a big risk in supporting RAAM, becoming a title sponsor for a race in what many regarded as a fringe sport. With Insight's help, the legitimacy of the ultra marathon cycling community is growing.

But Insight's decision to sponsor RAAM wasn't based on money. Tim and his special corporation embraced a competition that closely matched their own ideals: Strength, commitment, discipline, adaptability - heart, when heart matters most.

That's Insight. Yeah, they're a lot more than our title sponsor: They're "Our Papa". Looking over us, helping us back up when we fall, never wavering…

Whatever IT Takes.


Anyone that's ever spent an extended time in water knows what I'm talking about. It's the skin condition, not the fruit, I'm thinking of now.

Looking at the national weather radar picture, it's like my 4-year old boy Parker grabbed a green crayon and went wild. A lot of rain, spread out over a lot of space, a lot of it the RAAM race course.

Wolfgang Fasching of Austria a couple of years ago experienced too much rain and because his crew didn't change his shoes and socks often enough, had a definite problem. It turned bad, his feet turned into a spoiled, painful orchard of prunes and worse.

Solo leader Allen Larsen has passed through shower after shower - and I hope his feet are dry. You know what happens when you take in too many prunes.


Jefferson City, Missouri, 11:00AM RAAM Time Who is providing the most inspirational effort in this year's Race Across America?

There are so many individuals of distinction and inspirations borne that there could easily be several Ian Sandbach Inspirational Award winners.

Paul Bonds comes to mind. So does Beny Furrer. And Rebecca Smith. John Wagoner, Sr and his son, John, Jr. But could there be anything more inspirational than the strength displayed by the family of Brett Malin?

I don't get a vote, but this year's Race Across America is teeming with heartbreaking and heartwarming stories of humanity at it's very best.

I fussed at the official RAAM film crew this morning. The terrific trio of Producer Rod Ethias, Cameraman Don Garcia and Correspondent Danny Chew are making me mad. With a lot less ultra marathon training, the boys are trying to keep up with Allen Larsen in the lack of sleep department. They are capturing astounding footage of the race and have worked around the clock to do it. The television program for OLN in August promises to be spectacular.

But I pleaded, I plotted…I begged. Go to sleep, PLEASE!

They are now. Hopefully, they stay sleeping for 3 to 4-hours. REM sleep is their friend. They need her. Great job, guys. Night, night.

The leading team of Team Harreither of Austria is passing Allen Larsen today in Missouri. Maintaining current speeds (19.89 MPH) the Austrian quartet should arrive on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City around 6PM on Sunday, June 22nd.

As for Allen, he's approaching the point, 1,000 miles left, when training and faith take over. If he can maintain his speed, no one will catch him, and he'll glide past the red neon of Trump Plaza Casino and through the finish line just after midnight, Tuesday, June 24th.

Additional official finishers will come in until Noon Friday, the 27th.

Rumors have it that gaming has taken place by RAAM Headquarters staff. An unnamed worker played 1 quarter and walked with a cup full.

The investigation continues…

Bed Bugs

Marthasville, Missouri, 2:00PM RAAM Time. All things being equal and when you talk about the very best cyclists in RAAM, they are…sleep becomes the critical point. Who does it? When? Where and for how long?

Camping is something millions of people love world over. When you race in RAAM you're not only a ultra-marathon cyclist, you're a naturalist. Embracing the elements

22-hours out of everyday. If the budget bares it, you get to spend 5% of your day sleeping in a RV. Without the bucks, you crunch in and dangle the legs, and hopefully find sleep in your rental van or a discount motel.

Sleep has played its part in Race Across America from the very beginning. Championships won and lost because of dramatic swings involving slumber.

Serotonin. It's a chemical that helps us sleep and for most RAAM racers, it is the chief adversary, more than any other racer.

Allen Larsen has a problem sleeping when he needs to. This morning, his body let him and he's taken advantage of the courtesy. 3-big 'ole fat hours of sleep for the Washington State solo leader.

Former RAAM Racer and Race Director Michael Shermer coined the phrase "Shermer Neck". The condition of failing neck muscles. Allen Larsen struggled with the malady last year and with the ingenuity of his crew propped up his head with a plank of wood and placed 3rd and won "Rookie of the Year".

In 2003, it's his back that's the culprit. Allen suffered a car accident years ago that seriously damaged his back - since then, it flares, putting up a fight.

Our solo leader has put on a back brace that supports his back and neck. Just like last year, the ailments, minor or major, don't seem to slow this mountain of a man. He's got the weight of "The World's Toughest race" on his shoulders - and so far he hasn't skipped a beat.

Atlantic City is a buzz with the approach of the 2003 Race Across America. Impressive, colorful banners adorn the boardwalk, tourists and visitors to the landmark wondering, looking around…

To everyone who will be here to usher in these incredible athletes and their crews, get ready for a festive welcome. For every one of you reading this who aren't planning to be here. Jump on a plane, you're invited.

Atlantic City loves RAAM!

Boardwalk Hall

Atlantic City, New Jersey, 5:30PM RAAM Time. For years it was the largest free standing, arched building in the United States. Then came the Superdome in New Orleans.

Still, the Boardwalk Hall is impressive. The cavernous building supports a long stretch of the famous Boardwalk. And now nestled within several layers of stone, steel and glass…the 2003 Insight Race Across America Headquarters.

In the "Media Workroom", phones ring sporadically. One line means a racer has reached another time station, another line means some one wants information about the race, a racer or something else to be answered at the discretion of several HQ Race Officials. They even keep a suspect eye on me. Wars have had more leaks.

Every kind of dessert is scattered across meeting tables, next to plaques, in jars, wrapped in napkins…it's a living, breathing triage unit of information. Trying to counteract an impending sugar coma, I've drained 10-bottles of "Award Winning Water" from the

Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority. The ocean a few yards away has less water in it.

Every hour this week a cheery procession of Atlantic City Convention and Visitor's Authority staff have paid us a visit. So many quality people. They have taken a sincere interest in the race and are terrific hosts.

Literally and figuratively, all roads lead here. The energy and logistics, anticipation and goofiness build. These "yellow shirts" are people who care a lot about doing right. In a race year that unfortunately became a matter of life and death…caring people are the kind of headquarters staff RAAM.

Minutes ago on a walk on the boardwalk to clear my brain, the sound of the ocean was peppered with voices coming from people looking at RAAM banners and learning about the race…"Unbelievable!" "What? On a bike?" "They're finishing here!" "Awesome!"

It's only right that Race Across America is returning to its roots. The northeastern seaboard is the right place for RAAM. For many of the race's original years, the finish line was here: New York, Atlantic City, Washington, D.C. This is where the Atlantic Ocean lives. And this is a coast to coast race. We're home.

In your home, neighbors do nice things for you. Such is the case with Gerard's Flowers of Atlantic City. This high quality, community minded business has opened their coolers and their hearts, donating flowers to all our incredible finishers. Beautiful…

After two years following RAAM from the road course, this is interesting. On both sides, everyone's just working on a strong finish.


Positions at approx 20:00 RAAM time

Men's Solo
1 Allen Larsen                     1834.8 (14.70 mph)
2 Rob Kish                         1703.7 (13.22 mph)
3 Fabio Biasiolo                   1650.3 (13.00 mph)
4 Jure Robic                       1650.3 (12.89 mph)
5 Marcel Knaus                     1650.3 (12.71 mph)
6 Marko Baloh                      1587.5 (12.45 mph)
7 Martin Lorenz                    1587.5 (12.36 mph)
8 Terry Lansdell                   1587.5 (12.30 mph)
9 Ish Makk                         1587.5 (12.27 mph)
10 Mark Patten                     1529.5 (12.39 mph)
11 Dino Nico Valsesia              1529.5 (12.31 mph)
12 Rick Ashabranner                1529.5 (11.98 mph)
13 Keith Krombel                   1402.2 (10.99 mph)
14 Beny Furrer                     1402.2 (10.80 mph)
15 Attila Kaldi                    1347.1 (10.41 mph)
16 Paul Bonds                       1253.4 (9.90 mph)
Women's Solo
1 Rebecca Smith                    1347.1 (10.36 mph)
Solo (Withdrawn)
1 Fredi Virag - (dehydration)       120.7 (11.76 mph)
Two Person Men's Team
1 Rieper / Goodwin                 1529.5 (15.66 mph)
2 Epic Racing                      1465.2 (15.22 mph)
Four Person Men's Team
1 Team Harreither/VAV Versich      1951.6 (19.67 mph)
2 Areté Racing                     1760.8 (18.36 mph)
3 Power of Mind                    1650.3 (17.12 mph)
4 Team FOI                         1650.3 (16.96 mph)
Four Person Mixed Team
1 Team Hydro Charge                1760.8 (18.18 mph)
2 Grupo Guapo by Healthy Cho       1587.5 (16.00 mph)
Corporate Team
1 Team Insight                     1760.8 (18.28 mph)
2 Ride To Remember                 1760.8 (17.96 mph)
Teams (Withdrawn)
1 Team Vail - Go Fast               631.2 (20.36 mph)