Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rusch repeats as Dirty Kanza women’s champ

203-mile gravel race in Kansas

Express Staff Writer

    Little in life is more demanding from a mental and physical standpoint than riding a bike across the treeless plains of Kansas smack dab into a 50 mile-per-hour headwind.
    That, and about 10,000 feet of climbing, is what challenged the riders Saturday, June 1 in the eighth annual Dirty Kanza 200 mountain bike race along 203 miles of gravel roads across the scenic Flint Hills area of eastern Kansas.
    Calling itself the world’s premier endurance gravel road race, the Dirty Kanza was a solo, self-supported round-trip starting and ending at Emporia. It wound through the remote natural tallgrass prairie and cost only $95 to enter.
    But mainly because of the exhausting wind conditions, only 331 riders finished out of more than 600 starting the ultra-distance gravel race. Rolling hills and constant winds required constant pedaling.
    Winning the women’s class for a second straight year was Ketchum pro mountain biker Rebecca Rusch, 45, of Specialized/Red Bull. The 5-7, 135-pound Ketchum Fire Department volunteer rode a Specialized S-Works CruX Disc bike.
    She was the leader of 18 Open Women riders in 12 hours, 51 minutes and 4 seconds—53 minutes ahead of the next-fastest woman. Rusch was 11th overall of the 331 finishers.
    Rusch competed one month after separating her finger crushing the women’s record in winning the 142-mile Kokopelli Trail race that linked Moab, Utah and Fruita, Co. in 13.32:46.
    Dirty Kanza men’s winner was 44-year-old Dan Hughes of Lawrence, Kansas and Sunflower Outdoor & Bike. Hughes captured his fourth Dirty Kanza title, and third straight, in 12.03:39. Because of the tough conditions, Hughes’ time was nearly eight minutes behind the course record he set in 2012.
    Rusch, winner of four straight Leadville Trail 100 races, plans to stage her own long-haul gravel grinder mountain bike race called “Rebecca’s Private Idaho” in the Sun Valley area Sunday, Sept. 1. Visit

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