Wednesday, April 23, 2008
NUE series season opener
A full night of rain paused just long enough for the 7:00 am start of the Cohutta 100, giving the 250 racers a chance to warm up before they were peppered during the first three hours of the race with occasional showers, fog and changing temperatures due to the mountain microclimates.
Fighting through slick singletrack and wet gravel roads the men's winner, Jeff Schalk (Trek/VW) had his hands full with an elite group of riders stacked unlike any of the 100 milers 'til this point in the series' three year history. The early group of seven included Chris Eatough (Trek/VW), Floyd Landis (Smith&Nephew-BHRhip.com), Oregonian Evan Plews (Scott USA/CSC), Harlan Price (Fitness Together/ IFracing.org), pro roadie Dan Vallencourt (Toshiba/Santo) and Chris Beck (Gary Fisher). Eventually Schalk held off Vallencourt for a two minute advantage after racing for six hours and 48 minutes.
The women's field came fully loaded with the talented Hawaiian Pua Sawicki (Team Mata) firing off for a dominant first, leaving the other podium spots open for a game of musical chairs. Taking second, Cheryl Sorenson (Trek/VW) had to go the rounds with Trish Stevenson (FitnessTogether/ IFracing.org) for 40 miles before Stevenson faded to fourth and then the 2007 NUE series winner Carey Lowery (Outdoor Store) hovered two minutes behind Sorenson for the last 40 miles keeping her on the rivet. The sun's reappearance about five hours into the race ensured that everyone had a warm finish to the start of the 100 miler season.