RAAM Wraps Up
Last updated 7/18/2023 at 12:35pm
Dubbed as the toughest bicycle race of the world, and is one of the most respected and longest running endurance sports events, Race Across America has wrapped up yet another year.
RAAM finishes not long after its 928-mile counterpart, Race Across the West (RAW), as riders endured multiple weather changes, leg and body cramps, even bumpy roads here-and-there.
Isa Pulver (Switzerland) came out victorious in RAAM, coming in first overall in her category and first overall of the entire race. She rolled under the finish line arch on City Dock, and into the waiting adoration of her crew, and the fans who braved the rain to witness her historic finish. After raising her bike over her head in jubilation over being the overall solo winner of the race, her crew then rushed in for hugs and congratulations.
Her finish time was nine days, 12 hours, and 16 minutes. Along with being the overall solo winner, she was also the Solo Women's 50 – 59 winner. This is the third consecutive RAAM in which the overall winner was above the age of 50: 2021 Leah Goldstein (Canada), 2022 Alan Jefferson (Australia). And, this is only the second time that a woman has taken the overall solo win – a feat that Goldstein achieved in 2021.
Marek Rupinski was the first Solo Male Under 50 to cross the finish line with a time of 10 days, five hours and 27 minutes. He also earned Rookie of the Year. Not long after him was Lionel Poggio who won the Solo Male 50 – 59 category and second overall with a time of 10 days, seven hours and 31 minutes with an average time of 12.27 mph.
Leah Goldstein (Canada) completed her fourth RAAM to claim second place in the Solo Women's 50 – 59 category and second Solo Woman overall with a time of 10 days, 10 hours and 35 minutes with an average speed of 12.12 mph. After rolling under the finish line, Goldstein was greeted by Pulver. When Goldstein saw Pulver, Goldstein extended her arms toward Pulver, and bowed down in the classic worshiping gesture.
Heather Poskevich (USA) claimed the win in the Solo Women's Under 50 category with a time of 10 days, 22 hours and 37 minutes, at an average speed of 11.57 mph.
Kabir Rachure (India) came in second place in the Solo Male Under 50 with a time of 10 days, 19 hours and 21 minutes with an average speed of 11.71 mph.
Dorina Vaccaroni (USA/Italy) finished the race at 12 days, seven hours and five minutes with an average speed of 10.29 mph, breaking the Women's Solo 60 – 69 RAAM record, which was set in 2019 by Seana Hogan when she completed the race route in 13 days, four hours and 23 minutes with an average speed of 9.7 mph.
It's Another Day in Paradise, a four-person mixed team consisting of: Tom Buckley, David Ertl, Michelle Pohlmeyer, and Colan Arnold raced this RAAM in memory of the late Bob Breedlove, who was struck by a vehicle and killed during RAAM in 2005 between Cuchara Pass and Trinidad, Colorado.
The team had Bob's cycling gloves with them on this year's journey to remind them of a great friend and incredibly accomplished cyclist. Their team name, It's Another Day in Paradise, was something Bob always said when he was asked how he was doing on the bike.
Love, Sweat, & Gears, a four-person team out of Colorado made up of: Katie Davis, Jazmine Gatewood, Lacey Jones, and Katy Kavanas finished RAAM in seven days, 17 hours, 17 minutes. This finish means a lot to the team, because in 2021, the Love, Sweat, & Gears four person RAW team, consisting of: Jones, Gatewood, Kavanas, and Casey Taylor finished the race as a three-person team after Lacey was hit by a semi in Arizona and hospitalized with her injuries.
Christophe Blanchard (France) set a new French RAAM record in his RAAM debut, notching in at 11 days, two hours, 45 minutes with an average speed of 11.39 mph. The 43-year-old from Avallon, France broke the record for the fastest Frenchman at RAAM, which was previously held by the Race Across France (RAF) organizer, Arnaud Manzanini.
Though he's a lifelong athlete, Blanchard is relatively new to ultra-cycling, yet has had some notable rides, having finished RAF in 2021 and 2022.
Rupert Guinness (Australia) finished the race in 12 days, 19 hours, 41 minutes, with an average speed of 9.87 mph, and was the final finisher of the race. He also earned the plaque as the winner of the Men's Solo 60 – 69 category. Guinness has been to the Tour de France 31 times – for many years this veteran sports journalist covered the Tour and other events for the UK Edition of Winning Magazine, Velo News, ESPN, and other media outlets. He's reported on cycling and other sports in Australia and around the world and is a bestselling author of 15 books.
The final miles of his RAAM were probably the most difficult, as his neck had given out. His crew had shared pictures of Guinness, who was seen wearing a neck brace. But despite this, he managed to keep moving and finish the race.
Joao Pombinho became the first Portuguese race to complete RAAM. Also known as Iron Pigeon, made history as the first solo racer of his nation to complete the race. His finish was emotional and touching with some of his crew shedding tears of joy. This ultra cyclist and triathlete is an information systems manager for a national telecommunications company and, in his spare time – almost all of his time! – dedicates himself to his great passion: bicycles.
Why take on "the World's Toughest Bicycle Race"? His answer is concise and passionate, "Because there was never a Portuguese flag flying in the solo division. Because we've been or know close people who were unable to live their physical and psychological freedom. Because we want to get out of the comfort zone, for us, and especially for those who want to and can't. Because we want to learn, broaden horizons, test our limits and live an unforgettable experience. Because life is too short not to try. Because we are going to do our best for a cause that touches everyone."
Racers will be back in Borrego Springs in November for the annual 6-12-24 Hour World Time Trial Championships. The race will be held November 3. The six hour racers will start on November 5, while the 12 – 24 hour is November 3 and 4.
For more information, visit http://www.24hrworlds.com/about.