The Furnace Creek 508 is running this weekend. It is a 508 mile race with 35,000 feet of climbing that goes through Death Valley. The top competitors will finish in around 35 hours. Competitors like Chris Ragsdale; a Seattle native who holds the world record for fastest 1000km ride (31 hours). It is also a RAMM qualifier, but not one that I have on my “to do” list. Riding around in the heat with a large ultra-competitive field late in the year; nothing there appeals to me.
The current RAAM regulations state that you have to either complete or complete a minimum distance in 24 hours or finish within 20% of the race leader depending on the race within the two years immediately preceding RAAM. My focus will be on the first two types of competitions. With those I don’t have to worry about whether there is a super cyclist entered that year, so that even if I have a good race I don’t qualify. The logistics of finishing a 24 hour race with 425 miles covered seems easier. It is measurable and obtainable and effort can be adjusted during the race. The same goes for finishing with a specific time period. It is a challenge against my abilities not someone else’s.
I don’t remember the names of them, but there is a challenge in Sebring, others in Iowa, Georgia, Montana and finally Alaska. They tend to have smaller fields and moderate temperatures. Of course in six years time those events may not exist or the requirements may have changed. Of course there could be new events as well (a combined S2S/Cannonball – into Spokane on Hwy 2 and back to Seattle on I90, that would be a 550 mile race with 18,000 feet of climbing with a 36 – 40 hour time limit).
I will probably plan on attending three or four of the events in the two years prior to RAAM. I want to cover a couple different types of events at different times of year so that I am guaranteed to qualify at least once. With the growth RAAM has seen in the last couple of years I could see the requirements being raised in order to make the field more competitive. Possibly moving to an Hawaii Iron-Man event where you need to qualify in a number of races. It will all depend on what the owners decide to do.
One last event I am considering before RAAM is RAW. This is the Race Across the West. It starts and runs at the same time as RAAM, but only covers the first 800 miles of the race, typically ending in the Colorado area. Most competitors are completing it around 3 days. I think that this will be a great way to get a feeling for the next year as well as shake out some of the logistics with the crew as well as using it as a backup for qualifying.
Good luck to all those on the 508 today and go Chris!