Story by Lori Moger,
Leah Goldstein went into this race fully prepared. She trained almost as hard as she did for RAAM (Race Across AMerica) last year, and this race was “only” 860 miles. But can any training really prepare a rider for 45 degree celsius temperatures, 8 percent climbs that never seem to end and competition that doesn’t get off the bike?
“In many ways, this race was the hardest I’ve ever done,” says Leah who is now taking some much-deserved time off. ”Seana Hogan was a machine. I don’t think she got off her bike for the first 36 hours of the race!” In fact, according to Leah’s crew – that’s exactly what happened. Leah made a few pit stops in the first day and a half, and always had to chase down her competition. ”It was exhausting. Relentless. I actually wondered a few times if I would actually be able to pull this one off!”
But pull it off, she did. After passing each other about 20 times in the first 1 1/2 days of the race, Leah raced ahead of Seana the rest of the pack and finished in a record time of 2 days 14 hours and 3 minutes. She took 2-10 minute naps during that time. ”I think that’s what finally allowed me to break away. I can survive pretty good on very little sleep. I still had hallucinations, like seeing puppies on the road and the trees turning into monsters, but I think I’m getting used to that,” laughed Goldstein.
Daniel Wyss of Switzerland broke the men’s and overall record with a blistering pace of 1 day 22 hours. Leah was 1st for the women and 2nd overall – shattering the previous women’s record of 2 days 22 hours. Leah gives kudos to her crew, Meshkot Javid of Kelowna, Gil Sneed of Washington, Lisa Dorion of Calgary and Lori Moger of Vernon. ”Having a solid crew is essential for this kind of racing . . . and I’ve always been fortunate in that respect.”
Crazy things happen along the route of RAW and RAAM, and this year was no exception. There were teams and solos disqualified for cheating, riders hit by cars and even riders abandoned by their crew! ”It is definitely a fringe sport. It’s dangerous and extreme – and while I’m doing it, I often wonder why in the world we DO this?!” grins Goldstein. ”But it just gets into your soul somehow – pushing your body to do what seems impossible. It’s just a micro-chasm of life, I guess. Work hard, and inspiring things happen. It’s really that simple.”
As for Leah’s future racing plans, she is tight-lipped. She’s excited to start more motivational speaking engagements this summer and fall, and training others to achieve their goals. ”I really enjoy watching other people push past their comfort zone. I think it’s important to change our boundaries and discover new possibilities for ourselves.” You can find Leah at BreakAway Fitness in Vernon, BC training people to do just that. Congratulations, Leah – you inspire all of us.
Lori Moger, M.Sc. – BreakAway Fitness Centre
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