“This was my first year doing the Land Run 100, and it was such an incredible and rewarding experience.
Packed up car and left early on Thursday morning for the 12 hour drive from suburban Chicago to Stillwater, OK. When I got to Stillwater that evening, they were unveiling this year’s Land Run beer (yes, the event has its very own beer), where I had an opportunity to briefly meet the race founder and owner of District Bicycles, Bobby Wintle.
I can honestly say that Bobby (with is over-the-top magnetic personality MAKES Land Run the special event that it is).
On Friday, they closed down the streets around District Bicycles for the the riders’ meeting and carious festivities. The meeting, itself, was unlike any other that I’ve been to. Some have rightly compared it to the feel of a Baptist revival. It opened with Bobby serenading the crowd with “Country Roads,” and that was followed with several Salsa-sponsored riders reading poetry and other inspirational remarks that they had prepared. The meeting didn’t just give me information about the next day’s ride; it got me amped up to do it.
The next morning, around 1,000 riders packed the streets of downtown Stillwater, coping with the chill of the pre-dawn air. Then, we rolled out.
This year was dry (thank God!), so I did not have to deal with miles upon miles of the area’s infamous peanut butter mud! For the most part, the gravel rolled very fast. Oklahoma does not have mountains, but it does have plenty of rolling hills, which added up to about 6,000 feet of elevation gain over the 106 mile course. And, even though most of the course was fast-going, the designers had a few tricks up their sleeves, including a few frightening technical descents and a couple of water crossings — just enough to keep things really interesting.
One highlight that kept me going throughout the day was that Salsa placed a chaise lounge on the course, where we could get our pictures taken. Always one to appreciate some nice irony, I relished that idea.
The other big motivator was to get to the end to get my hug from Bobby Wintle. That’s correct. He stands there and hugs EVERY single person who crosses the finish line. Ad I said, he makes this event.
It’s hard to describe the high I felt at the end of Land Run. I have had moments at the end of rides where one gets that sweet exhaustion that comes from the mix of endorphins and sense of accomplishment. But, this was more than that.”