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Friday, June 16, 2000 -- Thurmond - Fayetteville, WV
Captain Thurmond's Challenge
Story and photos by George Gannon, with photos by Marty Lamp

[Details] [Coverage]
Results: [By Class] [Bike] [Boat] [Bike/Boat] [Run] [Overall]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6]
[1998 Coverage] [1999 Coverage]

Captain Thurmond's Challenge
Go ahead...make his day
It is no surprise that the Captain Thurmond's Challenge won last year's Governor's Mountain State Award for the most unique event. It could easily win an award for being the most grueling as well. 24 miles of hills, gullies, mud, valleys, whitewater, rapids, rocks, boulders, and just about anything Mother Nature could heap on the racers were the major obstacles in route to the finish line.

The mountain triathlon starts in Thurmond, along the banks of the New River. At 2:00 p.m., the gun sounded and sent the bikers off in a lemans-style start. Similar to a road race at the start, the course turns into a tricky, forest trail with "some supper-rippen' downhills." Rains had transformed parts of the course into a "mudbog," but there were still plenty of "sweet little kickers and hidden gems" to keep the racers happy.

Captain Thurmond's Challenge
The Le Mans start in Thurmond
The last four miles follow the river on a relatively flat dirt road that deposits the racers in the town of Cunard. Team BRO Fayetteville rider Todd Reighley hit the marker first, but Benjie Klimas, who was still recovering from a very strong performance at 24 hours of Snowshoe of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly was right behind him.

The next leg consisted of navigating some of the most challenging whitewater in the country. With the river running at -1 foot on the Fayettville gauge, the rapids were "tricky" and a little slower that usual. Charging through stuff like "Hook 99" and "Double Z" made for some exciting paddling. With so many exposed rocks, clean lines through the rapids were hard to come by.

Captain Thurmond's Challenge
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly coming through Fayette Station
Once off the river, the racers took to the final, and, according to some, the most brutal, leg of the race: a 1000-foot ascent from the bottom of the Gorge to the town of Fayetteville. A course where "the hills keep comin' at you," and "you have to enjoy pain" in order to do well. "I thought I was going to puke" was how Mike Rowe of Asheville N.C described what his body wanted to do.

Fighting off all urges to expel anything from their stomachs, and crossing the finish line first, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (2:03:51) repeated as Champs in the Male Team Expert Class. Fayetteville's own BRO Fayetteville(2:12:38) took the number two spot, while Team GOYA(2:21:16) rounded out the top three.

Team Truant (2:50:35) took top honors for the second year in a row in the Female Team Expert Class.

Captain Thurmond's Challenge
Chris Pohowsky wins the Men's Individual
In the Male Individual Class, Blacksburg, Virginia native Chris Pohowsky(2:20:43) survived a nasty gash to his leg suffered on the bike trail. He also took some major heat from Joseph Crocker(2:22:11), whom he overtook during the run, to earn the top spot and third overall. Tye relentless Crocker also posted some strong numbers, and took the number two spot. Henry Colomb(2:30:16) rounded out the top three.

For the ladies, Brenda Simril of Chattanooga, Tennessee took top honors in the Female Expert Class. Simril praised her first off-road race, saying "the bike course and the run are incredible." Debra Brown(2:46:43) and Maura Kistler(2:57:42)came in second and third respectively.

Other individual winners included Tim Daly (Sport Male, 2:40:09), Stuart Chapin (Amateur Male, 3:02:42), Ava Carter (Amateur Female, 3:33:38), Dave Simpson (Master Male, 2:43:29), Maggie Everett (Master Female, 3:13:22) and Tug Chamberlin (Clydesdale Male, 3:10:10)

Captain Thurmond's Challenge
The finish line is a good thing
Team Winners included The Riverman (Raft Team, 2:39:24), Outdoor Extremes (Sport Male, 2:23:41), Cheatham Hall Chicks (Sport Female, 3:04:57) Team Chewie (Sport Mixed, 2:43:45), Stolen Mojos (Amateur Male, 2:38:35), and The Team You'll Beat (Amateur Female, 3:20:05)

The Captain Thurmond Challenge is definitely an event with "personality." After all the racers were in, a huge feast was prepared. With some kickin' music and a good vibe everybody went home happy and ready for a long nap. WVOutside shout-outs go to Cindy Dragan, Sharon Cruikshank, the New River CVB and all the race organizers and volunteers who make it happen.