The Anchorage Invasion made its annual trip to the Kenai Peninsula on Saturday afternoon to dominate the front of the field at the Polar Vortex Cyclocross race at the Tsalteshi Trails.
Anchorage rider Jamie Stull paved the way for a Stull family sweep on the dirt, winning the overall race to the finish by completing seven laps in 1 hour, 1 minute, 44 seconds, while wife, Amber Stull, took the women’s win by a lap over her 14-year-old daughter, Cadence Stull.
Amber Stull took second last year in the Polar Vertex behind another Anchorage rider, Jessie Donohue, and said this year, her biggest concern came from her own family.
“She’s beaten me fair and square in two races now this year,” Amber said. “But this kind of course suits my strengths.”
Held at the Tsalteshi Trails, the hourlong event challenges bikers to complete as many laps as possible after the 60-minute mark hits. Amber Stull was the only female rider to make it seven laps on the two-mile course, doing so in 1:11:14, while Cadence made six laps in 1:05:25.
The top peninsula rider was Seward’s Chaz DiMarzio, who hung with the leaders for most of the race before finishing third, 38 seconds behind Stull. Soldotna’s Tyle Owens also battled for the lead in the early stages before finishing fifth in 1:05:03.
Soldotna’s Landon Showalter won the youth race by completing six laps in 1:13:20.
Soldotna rider Morgan Aldridge was the top peninsula women’s racer, crossing the finish line fourth among women and 17th overall, completing six laps in 1:08:37.
The race effectively put an end to the summer cycling race season, although the balmy temperatures Saturday appeared to indicate that several more weeks could be coming.
Unlike last year when the race ran under considerably colder conditions and a frozen dirt trail, the course this year made for ideal riding in warmer temperatures. Utilizing most of the Wolverine Loop, the Bear and Goat climbs, and a portion of boggy trail, Amber Stull said she was able to make it to the start-finish area before the leaders came through for the finish, meaning she was able to stay on the lead lap.
“(Cadence) can beat me on the long uphills,” Amber said. “This course was more punchy, and I love it. You can redline, then recover. Redline, then recover.”
Stull made the trip down with husband Jamie, Cadence and 10-year-old Dara, who finished 26th overall in 1:07:35, good for third among youth.
The men’s race featured a three-way battle between Stull, Brad Manderfield and DiMarzio. Last year, Stull won in a much tighter race, edging Manderfield by three seconds.
This year’s event saw Stull have to dig his way out of a deficit after a stick became lodged in his derailleur late in the race.
“With two laps to go I had this huge stick in my derailleur,” Stull explained. “Me and Chuck (DiMarzio) had to run Brad back down.”
Manderfield said he tried to take advantage of Stull’s misfortune to grab a sizable lead, but he knew what Stull was capable of.
“I knew it was inevitable that he’d catch me,” Manderfield said. “It was his race.”
Manderfield said he slipped up once, after Stull had gone by for the lead for the last time.
“There was this mud pit with a 90-degree turn and I just ate it,” he said.
Stull, the owner of Chain Reaction Cycles and 9:Zero:7 Fatbikes in Anchorage, said he does not make it down to the Kenai much in the summer to ride or hike, but has come down for the Polar Vortex race three years in a row.
“We’ve made it down for the Tri-the-Kenai (Triathlon) this year and this one,” he said.
Stull and Manderfield often compete together in the Anchorage Arctic Cross series, which wrapped up last weekend, and said the camaraderie and competition makes for a fun summer and fall.
Chainwreck series organizer Mark Beeson also handed out season awards after the race. The top men’s rider of the year title went to three different riders on a tie, with Mike Crawford, Brian Beeson and Tyle Owens sharing the honor. The top female rider of the year was Morgan Aldridge, followed by Jen Showalter and Jen Tabor. The top youth rider was Dylan Hogue, followed by Landon Showalter and Ethan Hogue, and the best single-speed rider was Will Morrow.
2018 Polar Vortex Cyclocross
Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails
7 laps — 1. Jamie Stull, 1:01:44; 2. Brad Manderfield, 1:01:59; 3. Chaz DiMarzio, 1:02:22; 4. Chris Wrobel, 1:03:06; 5. Tyle Owens, 1:05:03; 6. Oscar Lage, 1:06:24; 7. Mike Crawford, 1:07:13; 8. Brian Beeson, 1:09:14; 9. Amber Stull (women’s winner), 1:11:14.
6 laps — 10. Scott Hauser, 1:01:51; 11. Jeff McDonald, 1:03:22; 12. David Edwards-Smith, 1:04:43; 13. Cadence Stull, 1:05:25; 14. Rob Carson, 1:05:44; 15. Jamie Nelson, 1:06:25; 16. Rose Garner, 1:07:49; 17. Morgan Aldridge, 1:08:37; 18. Jon Iannaccone, 1:10:22; 19. Landon Showalter, 1:13:20; 20. Jen Showalter, 1:13:32.
5 laps — 21. Will Morrow, 1:05:02; 22. Dylan Hogue, 1:05:43; 23. Tasha DiMarzio, 1:05:45; 24. James Showalter, 1:06:38; 25. Katrina Garner, 1:07:10; 26. Dara Stull, 1:07:35; 27. Ethan Hogue, 1:08:50; 28. Madison McDonald, 1:09:25; 29. Dana McDonald, 1:09:49; 30. Darrell Kincaid, 1:13:37; 31. Sean Raften, 1:16:11.
4 laps — 32. Robert Carson, 1:15:08.