This weekend’s Pepsi Challenge Cup held at Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik Minnesota was the 26th annual of this American Marathon Series (AMS) event.
Race coordinator Deb Maki said “Unfortunately, because of the freezing rain and sleet a great portion of the racers were not able to get here.”
Still, the fact that 310 of the 371 racers who pre-registered showed up to compete was a sign that most nordic racers are a pretty hardy bunch and are not easily put off by inclement weather. A one hour delay of start also ensured that race organizers and racers alike could get to the start on time and safely.
Perhaps this race attracts those who are looking for a test of will, as the race website simply declares: It is called the Pepsi Challenge because it is a challenge.
At race time it was in fact, as Maki describes it, “balmy”, but as the afternoon started so did the sleet.
“The race course was actually pretty good considering,” said Maki, “ The classic [racers] had their challenges because the tracks were really fast and icy. I have not had any complaints about the course yet. Most skiers realize when you show up at a race you get what you get when it comes to the weather.”
The races all started and ended at the Giant’s Ridge lodge. The main event, the 48km skate, boasts two loops around its demanding World Cup and Olympic training trails. There are three companion races as well: a 24 km Laurentian Loppett, 24 km Classic and the 7 km mini-challenge.
The race for first came down to three racers in the sprint to the finish, and Andy Leibner from Hancock, MI, crossed the finish line first with a time of 2:06:55. Five seconds later was Adam Swank of Duluth Minnesota, and just behind him in third place was Bjorn Batdorf of Minneapolis, MN.
In the women’s division the top three spots all went to Minnesota racers: it was Carolyn Bramante of Minneapolis who finished with the fastest time in 2:19:36, in second was Jenna Krueger of Aurora with a time of 2:29:51, and third place was Jan Guenther of Long Lake in 2:31:53.
photos: on their way. . .
Full Results, including classic races and divisions