WAVERLY – Approximately 186 participants showed up to compete in the Challenge at Mountwood (Park) on Sunday.
Vince Nedeff, president of the River Valley Mountain Bike Association and the race director of the Challenge at Mountwood (Park), said he has been volunteering with the challenge for the last 10 years. They got prior to volunteering, they used to race in the event.
“To me, this is a great way to highlight some really positive things in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” he said. “Mountwood Park is a hidden gem on the east coast, some of the best mountain biking on some of the greatest trails around.”
Nedeff said the River Valley Mountain Bike Association has been organizing the Challenge at Mountwood for 28 years. He said he feels like it is important to highlight the sport and more importantly the kids who participate in the sport. He said it didn’t use to be this kid friendly 10 years ago, but has grown in popularity due to the NICA teams and other mountain biking promotions.
NICA or the National Interscholastic Cycling Association helps develop mountain biking programs for students across the United States.
Nedeff said there are three main race categories that the challenge is divided into, pro / expert, sport and beginner. They said they usually give out between three and five places for each race category depending on the size of the class and the top three of the pro / expert category receive a cash payout. They got sports and beginner categories to receive a variety of mountain bike related prizes like accessories, tools, helmets, socks and gear, among other prizes. They said the prize money comes from the entry fee of the race. They got the first place in the pro / expert class receiving $ 100, the second place receiving $ 60 and the third place receiving $ 40.
“It’s good to see everybody back,” he said.
Nedeff got COVID-19 has affected the turnout of the challenge. They got during the pandemic in 2020, they had a virtual race where people tracked their miles on an app on their phone. They got the event in 2021 had about 100 people participate.
“So this is a significant jump off from that,” he said.
Kaya Toler, 16, said she has been mountain biking for about four years. Toler attends Winfield High School and was the first place winner in the Sport, female open division of the race.
Nedeff explained that pro / expert racers ride for about 24 miles, where sport racers ride for 16 miles, and beginner racers ride for eight.
Toler said her father, Tracy Toler, got her interested in the sport.
“My dad used to mountain bike a lot, and we started this program called NICA, which is for student athletes,” she said.
Toler said it feels good to come first in her division of the race.
“This is my second race season, last year I did 17 races and won 16 of them,” she said. “So I’m just trying to keep that going this season. This race feels good, to start off the season right. ”
Toler’s time for the sport category was 1: 41: 59.7.
* In the first place of the pro / expert category was Ben Ortt with 1: 44: 57.1.
* In second place in the pro / expert category was Ryan Popple with 1:47: 47.6.
* In third place of the pro / expert category was John Swarr with 1: 49: 59.9.
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