Pinkham Notch, NH — The Moat Mountain 24 Hours of Great Glen at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road wasn’t just an endurance mountain bike race, it was a homecoming.
Participants and their families came from as far away as Alaska, Virginia, Colorado, and Michigan to be a part of this year’s 21st anniversary race held on August 7-8.
The race was held annually starting in 1996, and after a five-year hiatus (plus another year due to COVID), Moat Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery became the title sponsor and enabled race organizers to bring this beloved race back to the Glen. Moat Mountain is also celebrating 21 years of operation, and even issued a special edition double-IPA “21 in 21” beer and label commemorating the race.
Barker Mountain Bikes out of Bethel, Maine, was the presenting sponsor and provided wrenching and service for participants out of their strikingly hot-pink mobile shop.
The race was sold out with approximately 500 registered riders willing to challenge themselves as either a solo competitor or a team of two, four, or five on the 8.8 mile course throughout the Great Glen Trails network of carriage roads and challenging singletrack.
The theme to the event was “Back to the Land of Oz,” a riff on the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. Racers met flying monkeys, rode through a field of poppies, under a rainbow, and they followed the “yellow brick road,” a fully painted floating bridge over the Glen pond which was an option to ride as a more direct line in the race course. BikeReg, the online software used for participants to sign up, sponsored the floating bridge.
Even mother nature added to the theme with intense clouds, winds, and rain in the evening on Saturday. Driving rain made the race course slick in spots, but it didn’t deter participants who came through the tag zone soaked and covered with mud. But by Sunday morning the clouds cleared and the mountains provided a backdrop for a gorgeous sunrise.
One participant remarked that: “once you do this event, you’ll want to keep coming back.” She said, “It’s the positive vibe, the extraordinary location, and the people.”
Long time volunteers, Great Glen staff, former staff and even former General Manager of the Mt. Washington Auto Road Howie Wemyss, all pitched in to make it a safe and successful weekend.
“This event creates so many memories for people,” Nate Harvey, co-director of the race commented. “That’s the business we are in here at Great Glen: creating memories. To see riders and volunteers from past 24 hour races return is exciting and tear-jerking. Lots of locals and hundreds of weekenders from far, far away kept grabbing me before, during, and after the event thanking Great Glen for the work and opportunity to ride with friends and family at this incredible venue again.”
Over the years of hosting the event at Great Glen, it became more of a festival than just a race. Participants camped at the base of the Auto Road from Friday night through Sunday night, and some camps featured impressive base-camp set-ups for their teams and solo riders. Adding to the festivities was the Friday night party featuring live music by Slack Tide, a jam band out of the seacoast of New Hampshire and Boston area, as well as food trucks Kimberly’s Gluten Free Kitchen, My Tin Can Company, and Crescent City Kitchen who also brought the “Koz Bar” featuring Moat Mountain draft beer. And not to be missed was the “24 Minutes of Great Glen” for kids of all ages, from those on strider bikes to ages 12. All participants, or munchkins, were treated to giant lollipops from Zeb’s General Store given to them by Glinda, the Good Witch.
But the true star of the show is the race itself, and the incredible fortitude and endurance of the athletes in many racing categories.
Notable in the results was team “West Hill Shop”, a 4-Person Junior category (17 and under) who completed 30 laps in 24 hours 24 minutes and 1 second, which makes them competitive in the expert male division.
The fastest lap completed on course was by Paul Runcy at a blazing 37 minutes and 15 seconds. Paul was racing with all-male team “Four Members” in the 12-Hour race.
The “Smittys on Tandem” co-ed two person team drew the delight of spectators and other racers for their impressive ability to navigate tight corners and hop rocks with their tandem mountain bike. They completed 9 laps in the 12-Hour race category which ran from 12pm to 12am.
Full results and information about riders can be found on the event website:
Kate Stinson, the media and communications coordinator at the Auto Road and Great Glen said that she was impressed by the sheer volume and constant flow of people riding, especially throughout the night. And no wonder: the sum total of all laps from all racers combined is a staggering 20,367 miles, which is the equivalent of roughly 7 trips across the country, or 80% of the distance around the earth!
Other sponsors who helped to ensure the success of this event were: The Glen House Hotel, Mountain Flyer bike journal, Kona Bicycles, Element Machine Tools, HEB Engineers, Settlers Crossing North Conway, Pepsi, White Mountain Footwear Group, Honey Stinger, and Presidential Range CrossFit.
Race organizers will be working over the coming months to decide the potential of continuing this annual esteemed race. Participants as well as volunteers will eagerly await any announcement, as there’s “no place like home [at the Glen]“!
Photos of the weekend can be found on Joe Viger’s website, the official race photographer: https://www.jvsportsphoto.com/f941634978
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