Not only did the Southern Lakes Gran Fondo get two new solo champions this year, both were in the race for their first time.
Whitehorse riders Verena Koenig and Matthias Purdon won the women’s and men’s solo divisions at the 10th annual race June 3.
“I hope it’s going to become more popular because I think it’s a great race before the Haines to Haines, just to see where you’re at,” said Koenig, referring to the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay on June 17. “It’s just a great event and I would never do that loop unless I do it in the race. It’s a great loop.”
The start/finish line rotates between the five communities that the race runs through. This year the race went from Tagish to Carcross to Mount Lorne to Golden Horn to Marsh Lake and back to Tagish
Koenig, 33, completed the 173-kilometre course in five hours, 18 minutes and 30 seconds, posting the fastest solo women’s time since Whitehorse’s Tamara Goeppel set the record in 2011.
“It was a good ride. I’ve been feeling really strong this year, especially on the hills,” said Koenig. “My favourite was the first part in Tagish and Carcross because that’s where all the hill are.”
Haines, Alaska’s Heather Lende placed second in the solo women’s division at 6:31:35. Whitehorse’s Valerie Girard claimed third at 7:43:51.
Purdon took the solo men’s title in a sprint to the finish ahead of two other Whitehorse cyclists. Purdon finished in 5:02:48, beating Ian Parker by five seconds and Colin Abbott by 12.
Parker and fellow Whitehorse cyclist Stephen Ball hold the course record in the Southern Lakes race, finishing in four hours and 42 minutes in 2013.
Whitehorse cyclists won all available titles at the race this year.
Rob Rees and Joy Vall took the two-person title with a time of 6:01:06. Haines’ Ernest Kemp and Chandler Kemp took second at 6:27:11. Marsh Lake’s Malcolm Taggart and Jody Cox came third at 6:52:07.
Whitehorse’s Bill Curtis, Mike McCann, Ron Sumanik and Tom Ullyett made up the top 3-5-person team, crossing the finish line at 5:36:14.
The Gran Fondo, which was called the Southern Lakes Bike Loppet up to a few years ago, had two new 3-5-person divisions this year.
Whitehorse’s Grace Sheardown-Waugh, Bill Waugh, Wyatt Sheardown-Waugh and Ron Tait finished in 6:23:40 to win the new family division. U Kon Echelon riders Oscar Setterington, Mollie Fraser and Veronica Porter of Whitehorse topped the youth division at 6:26:50.
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