On a sizzling fast Mud, Sweat and Beers course, Jordan Wakeley laid down the hammer.
The Grayling cyclist finished the 2013 event at Mount Holiday in 1:10:42, six minutes better than his winning time last year and more than four minutes ahead of Petoskey’s John Cowen (1:14.54), who was the runner up for the second straight year in the 22-mile Stout race.
Traverse City’s Lauri Brockmiller was the beneficiary of Interlochen’s Bridgett Widrig taking a wrong turn late in the women’s Stout race, edging her Hagerty Cycling teammate for her first Mud, Sweat and Beers title with a time of 1:26:14. Widrig came across the finish line in 1:26:32.
Wakeley, who was simply looking for a repeat of last year, got that and more as he blazed through this year’s course in a time that was a surprise to many.
“I knew there were some real tough guys here,” said Wakeley. “I just felt really good. My legs were amazing today. It was good. The first hill I sat up and waited for somebody to try and go and I was going to sit on their wheel, but nobody wanted to go so I put in a hard effort on Will Power hill and one person came with me and that was it — head down and hammer.”
The one person who did hang with Wakeley for a time was Alex Vanias, but Vanias fell back before the finish and ended up seventh. That was even a shock to Cowen, who thought he came in third for the first several minutes after the race until he was informed by organizers he had indeed come in second once again. Cowen finished in 1:22:20 last year, but the speed of this year’s trail made for a marked improvement.
“It was fast,” Cowen said. “They change the course a little bit every year so it’s hard to compare times. I heard they added a little less climbing this year and it felt like at the end a lot it was downhill so maybe they did. It looked like it was faster overall.”