The Julian Death March lived up to its name this year. This year, Sonya Looney and Jeff Kerkove toed the start line of this 86-mile (138k) mountain bike course, which throws 13,000 ft (4000m) of climbing at the rides while covering a variety of mountain and desert terrain. Consisting of 3 loops, the Julian Death March is made up of mostly of low traffic dirt roads used my motor bikes, horses, hikers, and other mountain bikers
With the mass start of the event, Kerkove took to the front with Looney on his wheel. They would pull the nearly 100-racer field for the first 13 miles before the first major 3,000 ft climb out from the desert floor. Here the group would separate. Sonya would fall off the men’s pace but ride in 5th place amongst the men all day. Kerkove, leading the charge up the climb would be over taken by last year’s winner, and be forced to chase all day in 2nd place over the steep Julian terrain, before dropping to 3rd in the final 20 miles of the 86-mile event.
“For the first race of the year I am happy with my effort. The new equipment was spot on and I had a blast ripping the roads outside Julian!” stated Kerkove after crossing the line in 3rd place with a time of 7 hours.
Taking the win in the women’s race and placing 5th overall in the men’s field with a time of 7 hours 41 minutes, Looney flexed her early season muscles. Looney after she crossed the finish line, “The most fun part of the course for me was the Oriflame climb. It was about 4 miles, maybe 1600 ft of vertical, rocky, and hot! It was awesome. I don’t know why I like pain so much, but that was my favorite part!”
Sonya Looney, 1st place female overall
Jeff Kerkove, 3rd place male overall