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Race Across America Underway from Oceanside

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Sandy Earl and Bill Spaeth start out for Durango in the Race Across the West

Oceanside CA– Riders and their crews spent the morning in the parking lots around the Oceanside Pier preparing for todays start of the Race Across America( RAAM) and the Race Across the West RAW.

Riders in RAW were first across the start line, at noon, on their way to the first time station at Lake Henshaw, CA approximately 56 miles and eventually the race finish line in Durango, Colorado, a total distance of 878 miles.

RAAM solo competitors began at 12:38 and follow the same route as the RAW course but continue to Annapolis, Maryland. The team riders will begin their race on Saturday at noon but there was one RAAM team that began the race today, Team Fuzzy’s Friends. The team is made up of Chris Stauffer. 82 years old, Walt Chapman 70, Lew Meyer 80 and the youngster of the group, Anne Noone, 52

Team Fuzzy's Friends racing in the +75 age group

Team Fuzzy’s Friends racing in the +75 age group

RAAM is known as the toughest endurance event in the world and offers long-distance cyclists the opportunity to challenge themselves to the height of their abilities. Over 2,000 cyclists have completed RAAM since its first edition in 1982. Solo winners complete the course in under 9 days, and winning teams complete the journey less than 6 days.

These riders brave the desert, plains and mountain weather, lead a crew and a mini-organization of support, and raise thousands of dollars for charities around the world.

Tim Richardson of the UK waves to supporters at the RAAM start

Tim Richardson of the UK waves to supporters at the RAAM start

RAAM is truly a race but unlike the three great European Grand Tours (Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro de Italia), RAAM is not a stage race. RAAM is one continual stage, similar to a time trial. Once the clock starts it does not stop until the finish line. RAAM is about 30% longer than the Tour de France. Moreover, racers must complete the distance in roughly half the time allowed for the Tour.

More importantly, RAAM is not limited to professional cyclists. RAAM is open to professional and amateur athletes alike. While solo racers must qualify to compete, anyone may organize a team and race.

Racers  traverse the 3000 mile course across 12 states and climb over 170,000 vertical feet. Team racers have a maximum of nine days and most finish in about seven and a half days. Teams will ride 350-500 miles a day, racing non-stop. Solo racers have a maximum of 12 days to complete the race, with the fastest finishing in just over eight days. Solo racers will ride 250-350 miles a day, balancing speed and the need for sleep.

Anders Tesgaard of Denmark  relaxes, with a wounded shin, before the start of RAAM

Anders Tesgaard of Denmark relaxes, with a wounded shin, before the start of RAAM

RAAM has a rich and storied history. In 1982 four individuals raced from the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles to the Empire State Building in New York City. Covered by national television, the race captivated the public’s imagination. Teams were added in 1992 and quickly became the most popular and fastest growing segment of the race. Relay team racing made the event accessible to any reasonably fit cyclist. The 2014 race will be the 33rd edition of RAAM and the 10th year starting in Oceanside, CA.

Some quick facts about RAAM:

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Jacquie Schlitter starts out on her recumbent bike.

  • Total distance covered by racers is more than 3000 Miles.
  • Collectively, the Solo and Team finishers will travel a combined distance equivalent to circling the Earth at the equator seven times.
  • In the 33-year history of the race, Solo finishers have ridden more than one million miles – that’s two round trips to the moon.
  • Lowest elevation is 170 feet below sea level. Highest elevation is more than 10,000 feet high above sea level. This elevation range exceeds two vertical miles.
  • Each Solo and Team will climb more than 170,000 feet. This is roughly the distance from the ground to the edge of space, more than three times the altitude flown by commercial jetliners and almost four times the altitude of Mt. Everest.
  • Less than 350 solo and tandem racers have officially finished solo RAAM earning the title of RAAM Finisher, compared with over 2000 individuals who have summited Mt. Everest and 200 racers every year compete in the Tour de France.
  • *Racers have come from 5 continents – North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
  • More than 35 countries have been represented in the Race Across America.
  • RAAM crosses the five longest rivers that are entirely in the US: the Mississippi, Missouri, Rio Grande, Arkansas and the Ohio.
  • The RAAM staff during the race is more than 50 people. More than 200 people staff Time Stations.
  • Racers are supported by more than 800 people. More than 200 vehicles are part of the RAAM caravan across the country.
  • In the last five years, RAAM racers have raised well over $5M for charities.

Team riders will begin their trek to Annapolis, from the pier on Saturday, June 14th at Noon. You can follow the racers progress, live here [Link] you can learn more about Race Across America and Race Across the West here [Link]

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