Director’s Report: 33rd Annual National 24-Hour Challenge
Cyclists gathered in Middleville on Saturday morning, from 23 states, Canada, Brazil, and Japan to test their endurance for 24 hours.
For a week, the weatherman had predicted thunderstorms on Saturday, but the reality was overcast skies and moderate temperatures all of Saturday and Sunday morning. This favorable weather allowed many to achieve their Personal Best rides, and new records were set in six age classes.
Scott Luikart (New Philadelphia, OH) won the Men’s Overall High Mileage for the second year in a row with 493.9 miles, though he was unable to repeat his 2014 all-time record of 511.1 miles.
This year, 5 women and 24 men achieved rides of 400 or more miles.
We saw our first-ever tie for Women’s Overall High Mileage, with Pascale Lercangee (Powell, OH) and Jessica Anderson (League City, TX) both riding 424.3 miles.
Daniela Genovesi (Rio de Janiero, Brazil) was expected to dominate the women’s competition based on her RAAM (Race Across America) Solo win in 2009. She was indeed very fast and strong, but tactical errors cost her a 5th afternoon loop and she ended up with 415.5 miles, putting her in 4th place among the women.
Just before the 8:00 AM finish on Sunday, Jessop Keene (Ellsworth, WI), squeezed in a thrilling 27 mph last lap, finishing with only a minute to spare. Jessop also broke the record for Men 18-24. His 482.1 miles exceeding the 2003 record by 24.1 miles.
In the Women’s 25-29 class, Jessica Anderson posted 424.3 miles, surpassing the 1991 mark by 9.3 miles.
In the Women’s 30-34 class, Valerie Litznerski (Kalamazoo, MI) posted 407.9 miles, beating the 1987 record by 4.9 miles.
In the Women’s 45-49 class, Daniela Genovesi rode 415.5 miles, breaking the 1996 record by 12.5 miles.
In the Women’s 50-54 class, Pascale Lercangee posted 424.3 miles, besting her own 2014 record by 11.9 miles.
In the Women’s 70-74 class, Elizabeth Wicks (Boylston, MA) rode 291.5 miles, beating her own 2014 record by 52.4 miles. This was Elizabeth’s second year at the N24HC. How many 71-year-olds do you know who could accomplish such a ride?
In Father/Daughter pairs, 12-year veteran rider David Stebbins (Rockford, MI) and his newcomer-daughter Lindsey (Walker, MI) set a combined total record of 800.6 miles, fully 118.2 beyond the 2014 record.
The N24HC presents awards for cumulative mileage. This year, 20 riders achieved 1000 miles and were awarded the blue and white 1,000-Mile jersey. Four riders achieved 5000 miles and were awarded embroidered rain jackets, including only the second woman, Karen Iseminger (Westfield, IN) to ever reach that mileage.
Our Volunteer of the Year is Jay Muller of Middleville, longtime rider, volunteer and tireless supporter of the event, who passed away in May. We have established the Jay Muller Memorial Finish Line in his honor.
It’s great to recount the star performances, but the heart of N24HC is the body of ordinary friends and neighbors who set out on a one-day trek to see what they have inside them. To become athletes for a day. And often, to do better than they ever thought possible. We celebrate all their achievements.
Our sleepy riders headed home Sunday about 10:30 AM, already dreaming of next year’s Challenge, which will be held June 18-19, 2016.