Words and photos || Vic Armijo
COTTONWOOD, Ariz.( June 12, 2013) — RAAM fans have known that this 32nd edition would be exiting, with three recent winners entered in the solo male category. And day one did not disappoint with last year’s winner Reto Schoch (Switzerland) being the first to reach time station one at Lake Henshaw, some 50 miles from the start in Oceanside, California. To be first he had to power past 40 other solo riders—RAAM is basically a long time trial and as defending champion he started last behind the rest of the field who started ahead of him at one-minute intervals.
Schoch held the point position beyond, being the first to reach the famed “Glass Elevator,” a twisting and turning descent that drops over 3000 feet to the desert floor below. “That was quite fun!” Schoch remarked to the media crew at the bottom. Asked if he wanted a lift back up to have another go he replied “Perhaps, but not today!” Indeed, Strasser, Marko Baloh and 2006 & 2009 winner Dani Wyss weren’t far behind and Strasser eventually did take over the lead as night fell. But Schoch seemed unconcerned, “It is fine, everything is good,” when asked about his sitting in second position. Later in the night Baloh also got by Schoch only to be passed back by Schoch by morning.
All three reached Congress, Arizona this morning, 395 miles into the 3,000 mile race. Strasser arrived first, covering the distance to that point in a time of 19 hours and 19 minutes. Strasser stopped just briefly at the time station, no longer than it took to don a cooling vest, to get a quick wet wipe down from his crew and to order a cold Coke. Strasser appeared to be handling the desert heat much better than he had last year. Schoch arrived a full hour later and didn’t stop at all, seemingly intent on narrowing the gap. Minutes later Marko Baloh (Slovenia) arrived, stopping only long enough to change his shoes, remarking that the carbon fiber soles he had been wearing were getting too hot from the heat radiated from the pavement—he hoped that his plastic soled shoes would be cooler.
From there the course climbed the infamous Yarnell Grade as the mercury rose to 100 degrees. On the final climb before the descent into the famed mining town of Jerome, Strasser was seen being attended to by his crew, who continually leapfrogged ahead, handing him ice to chew on, cold water to drink and cold wet cloths to wipe himself down. Once over the summit Strasser sped down into Jerome, passing cars and leaving his follow car far behind. His crew caught a smiling—and slightly cooler—Strasser at the bottom.
1st Christoph Strasser (Austria) 441.3 miles / 22 hours, 16 minutes, 19.82 mph average
2nd Reto Schoch (Switzerland) 441.3 miles / 22 hours, 53 minutes, 19.28 mph average
3rd Marko Baloh (Slovenia) 441.3 miles / 1 day, 0 hours, 55 minutes, 17.71 mph average
4th Dani Wyss (Switzerland) 395.3 miles / 21 hours, 19 minutes, 18.54 mph average
5th Gerhard Gulewicz (Austria) 395.3 miles / 21 hours, 30 minutes, 18.39 mph average
SOLO WOMEN (50-59)
1st Seana Hogan (USA) 395.3 miles / 1 day, 29 minutes, 16.15 mph average
2nd Maria Parker (USA) 342.6 miles / 22 hours, 58 minutes, 14.92 mph average
3rd Kathy Roche-Wallace 286.6 miles / 20 hours, 54 minutes, 13.71 mph average
SOLO WOMEN (Under 50)
1st Lisa Dougherty (USA) 342.6 miles / 23 hours, 56 minutes, 14.31 mph average
2nd Cassie Schumacher (USA) 286.6 miles / 20 hours, 21 minutes, 14.08 mph average