It all began with the following small announcement published by John Marino:

RAAM Open West - October 27th:

A Kostman Sport Group Production

Originally published in UMCA Newsletter, July 1990

Ultra Marathon Cycling, Inc. is proud to announce that the RAAM Open West in Valenica, CA has contracted with Chris Kostman of Kostman Sport Group to organize and host the RAAM Open West qualifier for RAAM '91, '92, etc. Of the 13 past western qualifers in Hemet, Arizona, and Valencia, Kostman has been involved in all but two events. He has officiated in 6, crewed in 3, raced in 2 qualifers (Hemet in '85 and Arizona in '86), and he finished 9th as a rookie in RAAM '87. He is UMCA member #55 and Life Member L-77. Expect no chnges in the qualifier from past years, except perhaps greater awareness and publicity. The RAAM Open West has always been John Marino's responsibility, but RAAM, the UMCA, and personal commitments prompted Marino to seek a new race director. The race will begin on October 27th from Valencia and travel 508 miles through Death Valley and end in 29 Palms. To get a jump on the entry fee and take advanrage of a $35.00 discount, submit your entry fee of $100.00 prior to August 5th (easy day to remember: the start of RAAM '90). Send a check or money order to Kostman Sport Group, PO Box 40251, Berkeley, CA 94704-4251.

And a few months later, the first race under Kostman's directions was held:

RAAM Open West

New records set in the 508 mile cycling classic, held Oct. 27-28, 1990

By Chris Kostman

Originally published in UMCA Newsletter, November 1990

Twenty-five racers started the Kostman Sport Group hosted event and 10 finished. Favorable weather conditions and possibly the most competitive field in recent years were definitely on the side of race winner John Stamstad, the Bicycle Across Missourri (BAM) co-record holder who makes his living as a freelance photographer. The ROW put a cap on a stellar year for the cyclist, as he also posted a win and new course record of 463 miles at the 24 Hour Heartland Challenge in Illinois, along with the BAM record which he bested with Rich Fedrigon.

Giving Stamstad a good run for his money was RAAM and Ultraman veteran Premananda Childs, himself also a veteran of ten RAAM qualifying races. In a close third was Aussie Gerry Tatrai, who came to the states on an ultra-marathon vacation which included a 7th place finish in the RAAM Open Midwest in July and duty on Rich Fedrigon's RAAM crew. Women's winner Mary Burns made a big step up in her cycling career with her impressive ROW ride, as her longest previous ride was a mere 170 miles of flat Florida terrain. The combined vertical climbing of 35,000 in the ROW was a new and brutal challenge for the rider who was inspired to compete after serving as massage therapist for Rob Kish, the second place rider in RAAM 90. Master's winner Vance Vaughan set an impressive mark in the inaugural master's division of the race. The Mt. Xinu computer whiz certainly benefited from the experience of crewing for Elaine Mariolle in RAAMs 84, 85, and 86. A long-time cyclist, Vance trained for the race by completing the P-B-P Brevet Series and with often no more than 100 miles of weekly training due to his demanding work load. Heating up the action in the Master's race were Ted Epstein, a legal consultant and veteran of the Triple Ironman, Leadville 100, and countless other ultra- endurance sporting events, along with 60 year old Charles Hanson, whose six year goal of competing in the ROW was sidelined two years ago for a double bypass open heart surgery.

Finishers' Biographies

John Stamstad, 25, of Madison, WI, curently living in Cincinatti, OH, sponsored by Campus Cyclery and Tri-County Chiropratic. Freelance photographer. Fueled on Cytomax and bananas. Set new BAM record of 28:20 for 540 miles this year with Rich Fedrigon. An incredibly consistent rider, John combined world class hill climbing skills with minimal off the bike time and an intensely competitive mindset to carve out a very conclusive victory in the ROW.

Premananda Childs, 45, a homeopathic counselor from Greenwich, CT, sponsored by Zoot, Exceed, CamelBak, Bike Company of Southern California, and Kostman Sport Group. Veteran of RAAMs 88 and 90, 7 Ironman races, 4 Ultraman races, and 10 RAAM qualifiers. Walked six miles each of the two toughest passes in this ROW, evidently thinking the race would be better run as a biathlon.

Gerry Tatrai, 26, of Australia has had quite an ultra-marathon experience here in the States this year. After crewing for Rick Kent in RAAM 89, he decided to make a real trip of it in 90. He came over for RAAM Open Midwest, where he placed 7th and met Rich Fedrigon and Lon and Susan Haldeman, among others. Next he crewed for Rich in RAAM 90, then worked the staff of the Haldemans' PAC Tours event. Now he's qualified to race RAAM 91. Sponsored by Chuck Bramwell and thankful to crew members Hugh and Betty Freed and Vito Badalamenti.

Robert Rye, 31, of Laguna Beach, CA, is a mortgage company VP. Fueled on UNIPRO Pro Optimizer, Cytomax, and Gatorade. Robert rode Boston-Montreal-Boston this year and after it was over he sought out the ROW as an event for which to train. He rode his first double just two years ago.

Tom Davies, 46, of Magalia, CA is a veteran of RAAM 88 and Ironman, and now on his fourth attempt has earned the coveted ROW Official Finishers Jersey for the Death Valley course. In his previous three attempts at the event, heat and severe dehydration forced him to drop out. This time he and his crew came prepared to wage war with the elements. Hourly checks of weight and body temperature, coupled with maximum intake of fluids and regular icings allowed Tom to finally defeat Mother Nature. Fueled on Cytomax and Gatorade. Congrats on a job well done, Team Davies!

Ken Bell, 42, of Roseville, CA, was our single ROW finisher who utilized a solid food diet, primarily consisting of bananas, fig bars, and pasta. The retired Air Force mechanic trains 600 mile a week. The ROW had many firsts for Ken: it was his first race, the first time he had ridden with aero bars, the first time he had ridden at night, and he is one of the few to complete the ROW on a first attempt.

Vance Vaughan, 50, of Berkeley, CA, a reknown figure within computing circles, went into the first night of the race near the back of the field, but as the miles went by began to move his way up through the ranks. Battling for position with Marion Fryar and Tom Davies helped Vance to pick up the pace and set a very respectable master's divsion course record. Vance is also the first cyclist to qualify for RAAM under the new master's division 25% cut- off window. Fueled exclusively on Pro Optimizer.

Ted Epstein, 55, of Denver, CO, with his 2nd place master's division finish in the ROW has added yet another achievement to his ultra-endurance portfoliio, which includes the Double Ironman, Triple Ironman, Leadville 100, and many other events. Due to the intense climbing and varying climatic conditions, the legal consultant considers the ROW easily on par with the difficulty of the other events. He hopes to compete again next Spring as a warm-up for the first ever Quadruple Ironman. Fueled on Pro Optimizer.

Charles Hanson, 60, of Bellflower, CA, was perhaps the greatest hero of the ROW, the event which had been his goal since 1984. Taking time out from his proprietorship of the Century Pedal Stop, Charles really put in his homework for the race, riding some 70+ century distance training rides and a 24 hour ride of 300 miles in preparation for the challenge. Just two years ago, the determined cyclist faced an ever greater challenge, a double bypass heart surgery. With support of the SCOR Cardiac Cyclists Club, the expert advice of veteran crew chief Les Campbell, and fuel by Shaklee Performance, Charles realized his goal of completing the ROW on his first attempt and took an impressive third in his division and ninth overall.

Mary Burns, 28, of Deland, FL, a massage therapist and crew member for Rob Kish in RAAM 90, also overcame tremendous odds in completing the ROW. Living in a humid climate without a hill on the horizon on which to train, the mountains and dry desert heat of SoCal were quite formidable challenges for Mary. With only three years of cycling experience and no rides longer than 170 miles behind her, she rose to the occasion and proved that she is RAAM tough. Fueled on Pro Optimizer.


Women's Division:
1st: Mary Burns, 28, Deland, FL, 47:44, RQ

Master's Division (50 and over):
1st: Vance Vaughan, 50, Berkeley, CA, 36:19, RQ (course record)
2nd: Ted Epstein, 55, Denver, CO, 44:29
3rd: Charles Hanson, 60, Bellflower, CA, 46:31

Men's Open Division:
1st: John Stamstad, 25, Madison, WI, 30:33, RQ (course record)
2nd: Premananda Childs, 45, Greenwich, CT, 32:47, RQ
3rd: Gerry Tatrai, 26, Dundas, Australia, 33:25, RQ
4th: Robert Rye, 31, Laguna Beach, CA, 34:29, RQ
5th: Tom Davies, 46, Magalia, CA, 36:04
6th: Ken Bell, 42, Roseville, CA, 41:45

*RQ denotes qualifiers for the 1991 Race Across AMerica

Did not finish:
Rick Stark, Tom Sellick, Ron Shepston, Russell Goodwin, Nick Gerlich, David Weinberg, Alan MacDonald, Andrew Herrick, Richard Heiss, James Barhitte, Marion Fryar, Stephen Larrance, Jeff Born, Mark Dawson, and Louie Lazarakis.