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Bikers test their endurance at 12 Hours of Mesa Verde race

Anuthee Korder leads a group of riders on Saturday during the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde mountain Bike race in Cortez. Roughly 900 cyclists completed at least one lap this year. (Cody Olivas/Durango Herald)
Event continues to benefit local youths

More than 900 mountain bikers converged on Phil’s World on Saturday to test their endurance while raising money for organizations that work with kids in the annual 12 Hours of Mesa Verde mountain bike race.

“We’re just super-grateful to the community and the businesses who supported us, the locals and people who drove a long distances and stayed a few days,” said race organizer Dani Gregory. “It was pretty neat to see all these people back together again.”

The event will benefit 11 organizations that work with kids, focusing on those who help at-risk youths.

Primary beneficiaries include the Four Corners Child Advocacy Center, Piñon Project and Good Samaritan Center. Secondary beneficiaries include Southwest Open School, High Desert Devo and Cortez BMX.

Discretionary beneficiaries are School Community Youth Collaborative, Operation Graduate, Southwest Conservation Corps, Dolores Cross Country and the Cortez Water Dragons.

Gregory said Tuesday she hadn’t tallied up how much money the event raised.

She said it raised more than $50,000 and hoped it would match last year’s total of more than $70,000. The number of registrations increased this year, but inflation raised the event’s cost.

Cyclists donated about 200 boxes of cereal, which Good Samaritan will give, along with milk, to kids who normally receive food at school over the summer.

More than 175 volunteers donated their time, and beneficiary organizations also helped out.

Southwest Conservation Corps entered a race team of four. Teresa Ditore, youth programs manager, said the event will provide high school students with paid jobs such as trail maintenance.

“It’s fun, they work outside for their job and we work over here quite a bit,” Ditore said, noting that about 50% of their youth participants are from Montezuma County.

High Desert Devo, which had a high school and a coaches team participating, also has expanded its offerings to include elementary students.

“That’s why I came on – to expand the program and realize the impact it can have,” said executive director Lorena Dawson.

Dawson also said it was nice to race on their home trails.

“It’s awesome – so many of our races we have to travel so far,” Dawson said.

The 12 Hours of Mesa Verde started as a cross-country race in 2003 and after four years switched to its 12-hour format in 2007.

The track was drier and slower than usual Saturday, but the top teams still completed nine laps while the top solo riders did seven laps. Each lap was 16.4 miles long with 1,214 feet of elevation gain.

High Desert Devo coach Sabina Kraushaar called the course “fun and pedally, and flowy too.”

“We ride this stuff with the high school team all of the time,” she said.

In the solo competitions, five males managed to compete seven laps. Tom Kavanaugh of Ridgway, Lucas Chandler of Denver, Ian Caragol of Steamboat, Leonard Strnad of Boulder and Brian Kalkopf of Denver all rode 114.8 miles on the day. Kavanaugh had the fastest time, completing his seven laps in 11 hours, 9 minutes and 41 seconds, 48:18 faster than runner-up Chandler.

Ryan Buff of Cortez wasn’t far off, completing six laps in 11:39:42 to finish seventh.

Bri Hoopes enjoys a turn on Saturday during the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde mountain bike race in Cortez. (Cody Olivas/Durango Herald)
Shawn Gregory takes off on another loop of the Phil's World track during the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde race Saturday.
The Montezuma County Fairgrounds is packed with tents Saturday as racers participate in the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde. (Sam Green/Special to The Journal)
Female grommets from Durango Rowan Lott, left, and Opal Barber pedal up a hill on Saturday during the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde mountain bike race. (Cody Olivas/Durango Herald)

Professional endurance cyclist Ashley Carelock of Dolores completed six laps in 10:14:59 to dominate the solo female division. Ann Stanek completed six laps in 11:36:32 to finish second and Elizabeth West of Durango did five laps in 10:40:00 to place third. Kerri Starkey of Durango and Erin Kuhlman of Cortez both did four laps.

In the solo geezer division, Robert Goodbody of Boulder did six laps in 11:04:19 to place first. Patrick Peddy did six laps in 11:45 to finish second. David Howard of Durango did five laps in 9:43:35 for third, and Scott Clow of Dolores did five laps in 11:28:15 for fourth.

In the solo singlespeed, Mike Skellion of Eagle (10:16:01) and Andrew Sprafke (10:23:38) grabbed the top two spots with six laps.

Samuel Dolzani and Nathaniel Vacura won the duo male division, completing nine laps in 11:43:54. Bart Gillespie and his partner Drew Free (+16:08) and Marvin Sandoval and Wesley Sandoval (+16:35) also did nine laps.

In the duo coed, Macky Franklin and Syd Schulz were the only pair to do nine laps, placing first in 12:39:48.

Brent Winebarjer, Dylan Stucki, Jennifer Gersbach and Miles Venzara did nine laps in 11:23:08 to win the 3-4 coed division. Bettina Mills, Caleb Thompson, Michael Grajeda and Shawn Gregory finished in second out of 48 teams 33:16 back.

In the duo female division, Christy Lindh and Kelli McCall placed first after doing seven laps in 11:38:28. Maria Hillenbrand and Rose Kjesbo finished 10:26 back, and Anne Perry and Bri Hoopes finished 14:02 back after seven laps.

In the duo geezer division, Daniel Hoopes and Gary Gardiner did eight laps in 11:53:44 to place first, 26 minutes faster that Steven Frank and Stuart Mann.

In the 3-4 male team division, Chris Ziomek, Dennis Chavez and Michael Ziomek did nine laps, three apiece, to place first out of 40 in 12:13:09.

In the grommet male (under-19) division, Daxton Peterson, Gabe Gibbons and Oliver Gibbons placed first with nine laps in 12:10:43.

Elona Green, Mitchek Colley, Nina Schamberger and Rose Horning did seven laps in 11:31:59 to win the female grommet division.

Ella Gillespie, Sam Free and Tate Larrabee did eight laps in 11:59:37 to win the coed grommet division.

Charles Shaw, Chuck Ensign, John Shaw and Jonathan Fox did eight laps in 11:34:09 to win the 3-4 geezer race.

Andrea Dvorak, Janel Spiller, Lauren Hall and Sarah Sturm did eight laps in 11:39:36 to win the 3-4 female division, with Sturm completing three laps.

Conner Grimes, Jason Grimes and Lucas Grimes did eight laps in 12:07:40 to win the family division.

“It’s superfun to have the fast racers here, but we encourage people to come with their friends and family and have fun and come back,” Gregory said. “We want them all to feel special and important because they are.”

“To have an event that brings everyone together is awesome,” Dawson said.

Complete results at https://my.raceresult.com/184362/