I'm a little late in getting this published, but it was another good year for Thelen Coaching athletes in the Dirty Kanza 200. While it was unfortunately not a 100% finishing rate, everyone rode hard and made the smartest choices they could during the race. I had four athletes in the event - two returning finishers and two rookies at the event. Three athletes finished, with one podium in the Tandem division.
Don Wood - captaining the Tandem with his stoker Jesse Ramsey finished one step higher on the podium this year, taking fourth in the tandem class. They rode smart and steady in the hot and dusty conditions this year, finishing in 16:45 and earning the Midnight Club patch for finishing before midnight. Over two hour faster then last year! Granted, it's hard to compare times in a race like DK as the the course changes slightly each year and weather has huge impact on the event. But two hours is a huge improvement and I'm very proud of both Don and Jesse. Even though I don't work with Jesse, his strength and fitness is necessary in the strange world of tandem riding. Without both riders being on top of their games, a podium would have been challenging to see.
Judd returned in the Fat Bike class this year - rolling his single speed titanium fat sheep for the 200+ miles of the race. He also had solid race, finished in 16:58. He placed 10th in the Fat bike class and I have a feeling he was the only single speed fat biker in the top 10! Judd was an hour and a half faster this year, also showing some huge improvements in his fitness and form.
Rhino was one of the rookies into the race, and a last minute entry. He scored his number from a friend who was opting out to focus on another event. I wasn't sure how ready he'd be after finished the AZT 750 a month and a half before, but I know Rhino. He's steady and consistent and focuses on his goals, not the craziness around him. If he wasn't ready to ride, he wouldn't have taken the entry. As a first timer, he didn't have the history of the event, but was still able to finish in a solid 17:14 and earn a Midnight Club patch. Maybe next year we will head into DK focused on that race and see what we can do!
Kathryn was the other DK Rookie, taking on this huge challenge for the first time. It scared her at the start of the training, the enormity of it all. 200 miles, self supported though dusty, muddy and windy Kansas back roads and cattle trails. But she buckled down to the training, knocking out long rides on the trainer and intervals in the snow. There were several setbacks in build to the race, including two weeks lost to a nasty sinus infection 6 weeks out and work trip the week before the race. She put in a huge effort, but factors outside of her control ended the day a little early. I know the ultimate goal is always finishing, but sometimes taking a DNF is the smartest choice. It's said in ultra running that DNF also stands for "Did Nothing Fatal." Pulling out around mile 80 was perhaps one of the hardest decisions any athlete can face, but when balancing health and finishing, health always needs to be the priority. Kathryn will be back - stronger and more prepared then ever for what the Dirty Kanza can dish out!
|Rhino, Judd, Jesse and Don before the start of the Dirty Kanza|
|The tandem machine at the finish line|
|Judd rolling into Madison Checkpoint 2|
|Rhino refilling his supplies - the BPR crew had a large presence at the race and lots of help|