1999 Furnace Creek 508

By John Hamster Hughes

To view the searchable database of 1999 results and time splits, click here.
To view the Time Station Splits as a Pdf file, click here.
To download the Time Station Splits as a .xls Excel file, click here.
To view the Final Results, click here.
To view the Furnace Creek, CA, Time Station #3 Mile 251 Mid-Race Update, click here.
To view the Baker, CA, Time Station #5 Mile 381 Mid-Race Update, click here.
To view the race roster, click here.

Furnace Creek drew the largest field ever this year: 44 solo riders, two tandems and nine teams, totaling 88 riders. The racers faced challenging conditions. It was 98 degrees in Trona on Saturday and 107 Sunday in Amboy. The winds were generally light. Despite the harsh conditions Justin Panda Peschka won in 30 hours, 6 minutes. This was Peshcka's third 508. He qualified for RAAM in 1996 and won in 1997 in 28:42. The victory this year was sweet; he had planned to do RAAM in 1999, but was unable to start due to anemia.

Peschka led virtually the entire race, with Steve Beaver Born in hot pursuit. Peschka arrived at Furnace Creek, the half-way point, at 8 p.m. Saturday night. Despite the heat that caused many riders to drop, Peschka averaged 19.4 mph for the first 252 miles, over four major climbs including the 3,800 feet up Townes Pass!

At Furnace Creek, Born was an hour back, with Reed Flamingo Finfrock in third, three minutes later. When Peschka arrived in Baker (381 miles) before dawn, Born had closed the gap to 33 minutes. Through Sunday's extreme heat Peschka rode hard over the last three big climbs and arrived in Twenty Nine Palms 51 minutes ahead of Born. Finfrock was third, the first five time solo finisher!

Sixteen men finished officially and eight qualified for the 2000 Race Across America (seven finishers were previously qualified). Aldo Rock Calandro, Milano, Italy finished at 7:02:15 a.m. on Monday morning, just 2:15 beyond the 48 hour cutoff.

Cassie Llama Lowe avenged her DNF from last year by winning the women's race in 35:02, having lead for the entire 508 mile distance. Sandra Echinada Kenny was second and Angelika Cat Castaneda took third. Kenny and Castaneda qualified for RAAM (Lowe had qualified previously). Castaneda was the first woman to complete the Death Valley Cup, awarded to the fastest athlete to complete both Furnace Creek 508 and Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135 mile running race, in the same calendar year.

Rex Reese and Chris Kostman have established the Nancy Dankenbring Award to increase the participation of female athletes in ultra cycling race events. The award will be presented to the best female rookie solo rider finisher at the 508. Since all three women finishers this year were veterans of the 508 or another RAAM qualifier, no Dankenbring award was presented.

In the tandem division Karl Traunmueller and Franz Engleder (Dachshunds) from Austria rode tandem and qualified in 38:48. Joe Petersen and Tina Chapa from Bakersfield, CA (Pegasus) dropped due to stomach problems.

The team race was very close. Team Bison reached Furnace Creek at 11:07 p.m. Saturday night (22.7 mph) with Team Rat Pack only seven minutes back. The teams stayed close the rest of the race. The Rat Pack (Scott Mule Martinmaas, Robert J. Mack, Cameron Brenneman, Donald Miller) finished in 23:26:27. Team Action Sports / Snider’s Cycles Bison (Kerry Ryan, Ron Jones, Norm Hoffman, Mike Wracher) came in three seconds later.

The team race is a very popular venue that allows many different types of riders to compete. Team Tibia was organized by Tom Miller and Mark Newsome, both coming back from badly broken legs. They recruited Mark Patten and Chuck Bramwell to round out the team. They finished in a very respectable 28:29.

In team racing, the age division is determined by the average age of the riders. Team Whippet raced as a 50+ mixed team. The riders were Jewett Pattee, 76, Jerry Wildermuth, 52, Katherine Kearney, 37, and Carmelita Sellers, 65 — average age 57.5 years.

Eight Bakersfield riders put together Mixed Team Tandem Kern Wheelmen T-Rex. On this course with 30,000 feet of climbing, they finished less than 30 minutes behind the Rat Pack.

Of the 44 solo riders and two tandems, 24 solo riders and one tandem dropped out. The most common reason was stomach problems, the effect of trying to stay hydrated and nourished while racing in very hot conditions. The race usually has a high attrition rate: in 1997 39 solo racers started and 19 dropped. Last year 44 solos began the race and 18 DNF'd.