Anticipation and low clouds settled over the start Saturday morning April 23rd as racers from the region gathered below the dam at Lake Pueblo to kick off the new RME Series.  Some had made the 2-hour trip from Denver previously to scout the trail system they’d heard about, while others were going in blind – except for the You Tube clips that had been watched.  Questions lingered in the air like the low cloud level that hung ominously above. What was this terrain like?  How is my fitness? Could I finish 70 miles?

It was 43 degrees for the mass start neutral rollout up the long paved climb to the start of the rolling singletrack.  A last minute declaration from the State Patrol eliminating the connection to the 12 mile Voodoo Loop meant that the course would lose its namesake and now be 3 – 22 mile loops, and a tricky 1½  loop course for the Half Marathoners.  Everyone made the turns somehow and the first training race of the season for many was now in the bag.

As the race temperature warmed into the 50’s, exhausted racers gathered around the finish. Tire gashes from the shale was a common malady as was cramping.  The near perfect race temps was a saving grace for the field as hot sun could have been the death knell for many who struggled with the first long effort of the season.

Brady Kappius 4:47:48 just outdistanced Zachary Vestal 4:48:46 in the Voodoo Fire Marathon race, with Kip Biese 4:54:43 rounding out the top 3.  Kevin Thomas won the large men’s singlespeed division and was 7th overall with 5:04:54.
Sari Anderson 5:14:14 crushed the women’s field with Sonya Bugbee 6:01:19 and Laura Anderson 6:05:34 taking the podium.  Holly Wade 6:12:21 showed a strong early season performance winning the women’s SS over Kara Durlan 6:26:13.

In the Half Marathon, Bryan Alders 2:07:03 bested a tightly contested race between himself,  Mark Legg-Compton 2:07:20 and Jay Henry 2:07:34.   Jesse Swift 2:07:34 and Jessica Conner 2:57:07 took the singlespeed honors.

An enchilada dinner from Burrito Betty’s, and awards ceremony compliments of Rudy Project and Oskar Blues capped the day as the sun set over the mountains to the west.  Many questions were answered about the new Series, rider’s fitness and operational logistics, while some still remained.  Could this be the next Fruita?  Do the Rangers here have any idea of what they really have?

We all found out one thing,  – that this is some really good riding…