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Samurais endure one of hardest races yet

Technical climbs take their toll on field of riders

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Harrington won the West Side Wheel Up the week before, and is once again establishing herself as one of the top local women after spending a few years starting up Fineline Ride Shop in Function Junction. She also gets some support from Gary Fisher Bikes, and is excited to be back racing.

"For a few years I didn’t do too much in the way of racing, and concentrated on the shop, but it’s good to be back racing. There are some pretty good girls out there, and we’re all capable of winning on any given day, so it’s a lot of fun," she said.

Harrington crossed the line in 7:06, followed by Clements in 7:09 and Kassel with a 7:37.

According to organizer Tony Horn, 105 of 108 starters finished the race. Two pulled out with injuries, including one helicopter evacuation on Comfortably Numb, but both riders were well enough to attend the after-party at Teppan Village.

The other non-finisher decided to pack it in after a series of serious mechanical problems.

The last two riders finished in about 12:20, over an hour after it got dark.

Horn estimates that five bike frames were broken, at least two of them beyond repair. Dozens of chains were snapped on the technical climbs, several wheels were wrecked in the same pothole on Hey Bud, and flats were par for the course.

"People were cursing my name out there, but it’s the same every year," said Horn, who co-organizes the Samurai race with Ru Mehta. "I think it was a great ride, the weather was perfect, and the volunteers were just outstanding – they were cheering loud all day, and I think they probably cheered louder for the 100 th rider than they did for the first."

This was the fifth year out of seven for the Samurai, after which point the riders that made it through all the events will get an Ultimate Samurai award. Coming into this year some 54 competitors have participated in each race.

Horn doesn’t have next year’s course finalized, but says it will run over two days, Sept. 16-17, and that there will be some camping involved.

Samurai Awards

At the after party, Horn presented seven special awards:

The Oldest Samurai Award went to Gary Baker, who was riding in his first Samurai at age 67 – one of three 60 year old riders taking part in the race this year. More impressive, Baker was one of four Samurai racers who got out of bed early on Sunday to run the 10 km route of the Terry Fox Run. The others were Keith Ray, Ted Battiston and Marla Zucht.

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