Looking for a break from training in the ice and snow, I traveled to Florida this past weekend, to compete in the Sebring 24. I raced in the non-drafting, RAAM category. For those of you not familiar with this type of race, the objective is to cover as many miles as you can in 24 hours, the racer that covers the most miles wins.
I had a really good race and won the overall with 480.9 miles. I was hoping to get closer to 500 miles, but in total, I am happy with my results.
The weather was ideal, high temps during the day of around 80 and in the evening, lows in the 50s. Although, overnight there was a thick cloud of smoke that blanketed the course, from a wild underground peat fire that was burning nearby.
After completing the first 100.4 mile lap in 4 hours 25 min, I needed to let up a bit, as the temperature was starting to climb. I was slightly dehydrated and I could feel my core body temperature starting to rise, so I made a quick stop in the pit to have water poured on my head, and slowed my pace a little.
While I was in the pits, the rider who was in second place rode past. He was a 19 year old from Florida, Steven Perezluha, who as it turns out, is the nephew of the famed RAAM rider Danny Chew. I left the pit area, determined to chase him down, but he was moving and I knew if I matched his pace, I would be quickly overcome by the heat and my race would fall apart. So I settled into my own pace and continued to tick away the miles.
For the next seven hours I rode along in second place. Consistently churning away at the miles, while my deficit fluctuated between one min to as much as 26 min. Then after 12 hours and 12 min of racing, I retook the lead for the first time. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long, as Perezluha passed me again on the very next lap.
Over the next 5 hours, Perezluha built up his advantage to 13 min, but he quickly squandered his lead and after 17 hours of racing, I again rode past him. Unlike the last lead exchange, this one would not be short lived, as I would not give up first place for the remainder of the race.
I would like to thank my parents, Anne and Ed Walker for crewing for me at this race. A good crew is essential for doing well at these types of races and they did a fantastic job.