Race Recap - Altra Ultra 5k Enduro at Axialfest
July 2018 - Cisco Grove CA
3rd Annual Altra Ultra 5k Enduro at Axialfest
Crazy to think that just 3 years ago we had our first ScaleUltra 5k at Axialfest. Yeah, running for distance behind an RC car isn't new but just like the billion different ways you can "race" with a motor, our spin is a little different and truly puts the emphasis on the trail running and fitness part of the sport.
62 drivers toed the line on Friday morning, all questioning whether their legs, lungs or rig could survive. Cisco Grove has its way of letting the real drivers shine and testing every square millimeter of your rig. The first 2 editions of this race course took its toll, awarding almost half of the field a dreaded DNF as the rigs couldn't hold up to the rock, rumble and difficult line choices.
With the participant list growing each year and bottlenecks becoming more evident, the Axialfest staff, namely Brad Perry, set out to create longer laps to string the group out. We always strive to have the perfect blend of technical rock to wide open running and we felt the course was right on the money this year. The runners said we had too much tech and the rock guys said we had too much running... Mission Accomplished.
Perennial favorites were back again, Jake Wright being at the top of that list. The 2017 ScaleUltra Driver of the Year had returned to defend his crown and has added a significant amount of running and other ScaleUltra 5k victories to his training the 12 months leading to this. Other notable racers including multiple time podium finisher, Mike T$ Thompson, and his rowdy bunch of 801 runners who are always a favorite as they hold a long distance RC event once a month and are constantly adding distance to their Strava logs.
Mark Weir, professional mountain biker and RC addict came in just for the race and after his amazing effort last year with a broken foot, he was a contender not to be overlooked. The "Runner" Chris Cru Jones was in the mix last year early but lack of driver skill and some untimely breaks stopped his efforts and left him out of the top 10. And then there are the un-knowns, solid built rigs and fit looking racers looking hungry to grab a piece of the glory and to quote Nacho Libre; "see what it tastes like..."
Full size drivers, Casey Currie of Monster Energy and Currie Enterprises fame and Randall Davis of Desert Turtle and Lasernut Racing also toed the line showing that line choice and experience works in all sizes.
Side by side, 2x2, racers launched from underneath the Altra Running arch and headed full blast into the course, heading straight into a hard and long running section that took the heart rate from early-morning-sleepy-eyes straight into cardiac stress test. The course ran through the roads and campsites of Axialfest attendees, teasing our noses with their sizzling bacon and surprising those who had walked the course pre-race with a giant log obstacle, aka the "Baja Booby Trap" that caught us off guard as we emerged from the river bed. After a long run-walk through the ball fields, a nasty uphill climb stood guard as our first obstacle to stifle our journey into the rocks. After the blood came back into our brains after the brutal hill climb, a welcome break of technical rock sections let us catch our breath and concentrate on smooth lines and treacherous footwork.
Run, rock, run, rock as we headed back into the creek bed and back up to the pavilion, hitting it opposite from the year previous but still just as hard with sharp rocks and more bad lines than good. Down the small drainage ditch and back through the finish arch, we had 2 more laps to do for our 5K-ish distance that totaled 3.9 miles for the day.
"The most fun I have ever had with an RC!"
Defending champ Jake Wright took off from the gun and never let up, taking the fastest 3 lap times and clearly showing he is the man to beat in this discipline by putting an insane 7+ minutes ahead of 2nd place and taking claim to those BFGoodrich tires. Thats what happens when a comp crawling World Champ becomes a trail runner... 2nd and 3rd was a much tighter battle between Mike T$ Thompson and Chris Cru Jones, with only 26 seconds deciding who went home with those lustful Method Racing Wheels or the verbal horsepower Magnaflow Exhaust. The top 3 drivers were all sporting Altra swag and shoes as they continued the Altra Off-Road team sweep of the podium for the 2nd year in a row. Ryan Garrish was super consistent and locked up the 4th spot and another 801 driver, Mr. Diddy Paul Blackner slotted into 5th.
The field was better prepared and rigs more robust this year as 50 of the 62 crossed the line, 9 of those in the 1.9 variety. The 1.9 Podium was Sean Heaton, Ken Mejica and Anthony "half-link" Dianda taking home some sweet trophies and Altra gift cards for their efforts. Dominque Judkins had a great first race with her blazing time to stake claim to the Fastest Woman trophy.
A special shoutout to Cole Olsen, who just a few weeks prior was in the hospital for kidney failure. He fought through fatigue and a still recovering body to finish the race in a display of pure grit and determination.
Thank you to Altra Footwear, the Axialfest course crew, the entire staff at Axial and Horizon Hobby and all of you who came to race. It was another insane year and we can't wait until the next one.