MD State Championships, Greenbrier: Gripped started the day early with Kevin Carter leading the Endurance Open class – 4 solid hours of relentless rocks. In usual Kevin fashion an additional challenge lay in having forgotten his shoes. He borrowed a pair of commuter shoes with floppy soles but they fit so off he went. By total luck his supportive (and fast) wife brought his racing shoes so only a few laps were turned on the slippers before Kevin could pit-stop change out and continue to lead the race. By the end of 9 muddy laps he was over 20 minutes ahead of 2nd place and took the top podium step with authority.
Not to be outdone by her husband, Melanie Carter raced in the beginner women’s class and had a fantastic day amidst ever degrading course conditions.
Mel finished in 2nd place but being the first Maryland resident on the podium won the Maryland State Champion title!
From JB: 5th Cat 1
Greenbrier is always hard right from the gun. This year I moved up an age category and lined up beside local legend Mike Buchness and a bunch of unknowns. Gun went off and my foot unclipped – not a great start.
I recovered and led up the first climb then ripped down the rocky descent. For about a mile I thought I might fare well until the unknowns caught and marched past me on the technical climbs. As I gulped mud from their back tires I knew it would be a humbling day. I had some bad moments on the 4th lap (dismounted on a climb and walked faster than I had been riding) but having team mates there to hand up bottles and cheer was huge. Best part was, as usual, cooling off in the pond. I was so fried I just laid in the water till someone handed me a 60 minute.
I went into the race feeling pretty confident and strong. I knew from the Gripped pre-ride the day before that I would struggle to keep pace on the brutal climb in the middle, but felt good about being able to make up time on the fast, rocky, technical downhill sections. I got a good start, and was about 5th as we started up the (immediate) first climb. The field blew apart halfway up the first climb, the pace was much faster than expected. I was drifting backward and finally settled in toward the back of the group. I passed a couple people on the first downhill section, but had already lost contact with the leaders. I assumed I was in the back half of the field, so I just settled in to do the best I could and try and “enjoy” the rest of the race. I crossed the finish line feeling good that I put my best effort in, but disappointed with where I ~thought~ I finished. After going to the car, changing, and heading down to cheer on JB, I come across fellow gripped team member (and Greenbriar Endurance race winner) Kevin Carter, who is asking me why I missed the podium shot when they called my name. Apparently, I ended up finishing 5th, but I had no idea I had clawed back to finish that well. No podium picture, but I did get a sweet grab bag of Park Tools. All in all a great day!
A week later Kevin went on to take first at the Patapsco Marathon as well!