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Friday, June 18, 1999 -- Thurmond, Fayetteville
Captain Thurmond's Challenge
Story and photos by Marty Lamp and Julie Bertsch

[Coverage] Pics: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]
Results By: [Class] [Bike] [Boat] [Bike/Boat] [Run] [Overall]

Captain Thurmond Challenge
Captain Thurmond stands proud at the starting line
An abundance of sunshine and perfect racing temperatures may not have made the Captain Thurmond's Challenge 24 mile course any shorter; but it may have made it a little easier to smile amidst the pain. Fifty-one teams and solo competitors took to the New River Gorge for this notorious race that carries along with it some serious bragging rights, and deservedly so.

This triathlon-style event starts in the historically infamous town of Thurmond, along the banks of the New River. Captain Thurmond himself was there, firing the gun for the lemans-style start. Once on the bikes, it was into the woods for some reasonably technical single track, leaving passing opportunities few and far between. There's no room for excuses though, because the final 4 miles was a railroad grade dirt highway right beside the New river, all the way to Cunard.

Captain Thurmond Challenge
Wes McDonald cruisin' to Cunard
All bikes were dropped at the edge of the commercial parking lot at the Cunard Access while all soon-to-be-paddlers ran down to the rivers edge. The Fayette Station gauge was reading somewhere below -1 foot, making the longer boats that much more valuable through the long, slow pools; but the rapids gave racers quite a few more rocks to pick good lines through this year, and the straight, clean lines weren't quite so easy to find.

Once paddlers hit the shore below Fayette Station rapid, it was time for a run up out of the gorge into Fayetteville Town Park, 1000 feet above the the New River. Although slightly shorter this year, runners were handed slightly more elevation, staying on Fayette Station Road until the Kaymoor Trail parking area, where it was left onto rough, steep single track littered with softball size boulders. Near the very top, runners gained their stride through soft rolling trails leading to the park, and an awaiting crowd of impressed spectators.

Captain Thurmond Challenge
Low water made the paddling even more fun
The first team to cross the finish line and take the overall win was Good, Bad, & Ugly(2:00:54). This Male Expert team consisted of the fastest kayak split by 4 minutes, the fastest run split by almost 4 minutes, and the second fastest bike time. It was no lock, though, as Male Expert team Ridge Rider(2:07:21) hit the water first after posting the fastest bike split by over a minute. Even though team Good, Bad, & Ugly took the lead in the kayak and never looked back, Ridge Rider kept cruising fast enough to finish second overall. Male Expert Team Work(2:11:32) rounded out the top three overall finishers.

In the Male Expert Class, John Currier (2:18:32) once again proved dominant, but Henry Colomb(2:19:25) gave him no time to rest. Currier beat Colomb to the water by just under three minutes, but it was Colomb strapping on his running shoes first. Currier was able to catch Colomb and make up the difference on the run, winning by less than a minute! Chris Pohowsky(2:26:16) finished third for the Male Expert solo class.

Captain Thurmond Challenge
Team Truant crushed the run
For the Team Female Experts, it came down to an all out battle close to the finish line, with Team Truant(2:44:00) displaying some powerful running. Team Truant started on the run 4 minutes behind Team Odyssey(2:44:05), and passed Team Odyssey just as the finish line could first be seen.

In the Team Mixed Expert Class, Blue Ridge Outdoors(2:11:45) carried a small lead all the way to the run, where they left little doubt by running 5 minutes faster than the closest class competitor. Team Teva(2:19:31) finished a close second, and team New River Scenic(2:46:37) took third.

Sarah Gillfillan(2:55:53) took the checkered flag for the Female Class, and Rob Voorhees(2:40:29) led the big boys the whole way to win the Clydesdale Class. For the Male Sports, it was Dwight Shuler(2:31:30) getting the win, while Team Wood, Water, and Wheels(2:22:05) winning the Team Male Sport Class.

After the race, it was time to kick back, listen to some cool live music, and eat some of the great food provided (chicken right off the grill and pasta salad).Thanks to Donnie Hudspeth, Wayne Young, the New River CVB, and all the volunteers who helped make this race happen. We can't wait to come back next year!