Peaks to Prairie Race Report

One lone team member made it to the Peaks to Prairie race this year. The race consists of an 8.8 mile run into Red Lodge, a 43 mile bike to Laurel, and a 21 mile kayak on the Yellowstone River in to Billings. The run started off sunny with no wind, and the downhill course feels fast. I had a good run, and the driving snow storm from last year was nowhere in sight – still had clear skies and calm conditions. About 8 miles into the bike I found the wind, and fought pretty hard cross winds all the way to Laurel. Like the run, the bike is all downhill, making the wind somewhat more tolerable. I felt good on the bike as well and managed to pass most of the field. Coming in to the second transition the volunteers took my bike for me and already had my boat in the water. After a couple attempts to shove my legs into the cramped cockpit of the kayak without cramping up or tipping over, I was finally off on the longest and slowest leg of the race. I decided to forgo the Hamm’s and actually paddle this year. Coming straight from an hour of hard running and an hour and a half of hard biking, my legs really didn’t enjoy being cramped and unable to move for 2 and a half hours, but my quads stopped seizing up after about 20 minutes. The river was a little faster this year, but the wind had picked up even more from the morning and somehow changed directions, and if I hadn’t been paddling would have been blown upstream to Livingston. One person passed me with about 6 miles left in the race, and he was another solo racer(not on a team), but he passed me with enough speed that I didn’t feel compelled to try to catch him. Turns out he took a wrong turn into a side channel and came out right in front of me about 500 yards before the finish. I finished in 5 hours and 5 minutes for second place in the solo division, one minute behind first, though without the wrong turn he would have been 4 or 5 minutes ahead of me. Only 4 teams had finished in front of us, so we were both pretty happy to have come in that close to the front. It was a great race with a fun course and a good group of volunteers and racers.

Russ Gates


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