Chalk one up for Kiwi power. That’s the storyline from this year’s Bud Lite Lime Homestake Creek Race at the 8th annual Teva Mountain Games, as New Zealand’s Nikki Kelly and Mike Dawson took the top two podium spots for men and women, respectively, in one of the toughest and mankiest extreme races in the world, with a bony 75 cfs dropping 500 hard-charging feet per mile. Dawson even set a new course record on his first run of 1:49:05.
For the women, it came down to just 12/100th’s of a second, but that’s all Kelly needed to win the event held just outside of Red Cliff, Colo., over Australia’s Tanya Faux, with a combined time of 4:09.48 to Faux’s 4:09.60. The overall time combined first and second runs, with both racers tight going into the finals. There, a piton by Faux proved just slightly slower than a spin-out by Kelly, giving Kelly the crown.
“My first run wasn’t as smooth, so I had to make it up on my second run,” says Kelly. “Tanya is such a strong paddler, I knew it was going to be tough.”
“It was super close,” adds Faux, who was ahead after the first run. “I pitoned pretty hard, but Nikki spun-out into a 360. It’s amazing we could both be so close after two runs, especially since it’s such a difficult course.”
For the men, it was Games newcomer Mike Dawson from New Zealand as the top-place finisher, crossing the line with a combined time of 3:41.63, followed by Tao Berman in second just a second behind at 3:42:67and Teva Tribe athlete Pat Keller in third at 3:44.29. Local favorite Brad Ludden finished 10th, while local Ken “Hobie” Hoeve dislocated his shoulder at the bottom of a steep drop. “I’m super stoked,” Dawson, who picked up $2,000 for the win, told the Vail Daily, “I came all the way from new Zealand to Euriope to here, so I was pretty tired.”
“It was a great start to this year’s Teva Mountain Games,” says Peter Warren, Teva Sports Marketing Manager. “All of our Teve athletes really trained hard leading up to the event and the competition was tough this year. Seeing their hard work pay off made us proud.”
In other news, racers and event organizers were saddened to learn of the death of 29-year-old local kayaker Drew Hunter on Thursday, who perished while paddling the Fishladder section of Black Gore Creek upstream of the event.