Team Jamis rider Blake Harlan recently raced for Team USA in the Marathon World Championships held in Montebelluna, Italy. Despite being a relative youngster, Harlan is one of the most experienced long-distance racer in the States. His tenure with Jamis has seen him race ultra-endurance and MTB stage races all across the globe.
Following his recent result at Marathon Worlds, Blake took a second to share his experience with us.
Read Blake's full report below:
Well I'm happy to report I made it. I finished the race yesterday blasted. The 118km course was fast and relentless. Short steep climb after short steep climb with paved or smooth descents in between left little room for recovery. The most important factor of the day however was the heat. Getting into the low 90's and riding kilometer after kilometer in the exposed roads and vinyards took it's toll on me as well as other competitors. Thank god I had my family and friend support crew in town!
While I had someone at the feedzones many racers who traveled to Italy from outside Europe relied on the advertised neutral feed support. However, being one of the biggest marathons in Europe, nobody told us that 3,000 amateur racers would be pillaging the feed zones in the day and morning before our race. I saw a lot of hopeless and desperate souls out there. I specifically remember having to protect my bottle from an Argentinian racer who was asking every spectator "Agua! Agua!".
My race started out very promising as the first 45km zoomed by and I found myself racing with two Austrian and one Swiss rider. Soon it was just me and the Swiss rider but then I fell victim to the heat. Heat exhaustion sucks. It creeps up and attacks you without warning. I went from feeling great to climbing in the baby ring with goose bumps. Next was cramps. I was forced to ride at a toddlers pace for about 40 mins before I entered the forested section of the course again. Once back in the shade I began to feel better but the damage was done.
Participating in this event was pretty amazing. Lining up, surrounded by all the various national jerseys, in a field of the best riders in the world is certainly a highlight of my racing thus far. The course was packed with fans and every one of them cheered for me as if I was of their own nationality. It sounds cheesy to say but representing my country in that race eliminated every thought of quitting or giving up as soon as it entered my head, which it did several times.
The fast pace, tough course and harsh conditions took about about a quarter of the field and while I wish I could have put everything together for a great ride I am happy that I can say I certainly tried my hardest. My European adventure is concluded and my next adventure awaits in Canada. The BC Bike Race will be an excellent way for me to get back some of my lost singletrack quota for the year.