Karen Tripp Wins the Women’s Open Hammerhead 50 MTB Race

Report by Karen:

Another year doing the Hammerhead 100/50 mile MTB race. One of my favorite races and this year it was even better because the temperatures were in the 60’s instead of the hot and humid 80’s. I must say, I’m not very excited about how the race starts. Everyone lines up together, all one hundred of us. Whistle blows and we are off, following a motor scooter escorting us on pavement for about two miles until we get to the entrance of the single track. You can imagine up until then the chaos going on with everyone trying to get to the front. We hit the single track and everything comes to a screeching halt. It’s critical for me to try and maintain my spot so that I can keep my eye on the other three girls ahead of me. The death march begins thru the single track before it opens up and I have an opportunity to close the gap on the other women in my field.

It takes about seven miles for the race to sort itself out. I have managed to get by the three girls that were ahead of me. But at this point I still don’t know my position in the race. Are there any more women in front of me? It has now started to rain making the conditions sketchy, however I’m cruising along just fine, when next thing I know I’m off the trail upside down in the woods. I jump up, brush myself off, I’m ok, bike is ok, back on the bike and see that my husband has heard all the commotion and is waiting for me. I get on his wheel and we crank up the pace as I try to shake off my crash. Now I’ve become a little bit tentative. The start finish line comes quickly and still no sign of any women. One lap down and one twenty five mile lap to go.

Things are quickly drying out as the rain has stopped. My nerves have finally settled down and we are moving smoothly at a good pace, I catch a glimpse of someone up ahead, is that a girl? We close the gap and now realize it is a girl and she is in my race. She’s now aware that I have caught her so she picks up her pace, making several attempts to drop me. For the next ten miles I patiently wait and watch. I can see that she is struggling when the terrain points up. With about seven miles to go I make my move on a technical uphill section. Not enough to shake her but I keep the pressure on, and within a mile I realize she isn’t with me anymore. Knowing that anything could happen, I keep the pace up until I cross the finish line. I didn’t know at the time that she was the first place women, so I was pretty darn happy that I took the win!