Oceanside CA– Less than eight days after crossing the start line in Oceanside, California for the Race Across America, Christop Strasser has crossed the finish line in Annapolis, Maryland. Strasser finished the 3,022 mile course shortly after 5:30AM PDT, 7 days and approximately 17 hours after leaving the strand in Oceanside. The Austrian rider finished 350 miles ahead of the four person RAAM team of Fuzzy’s Friends. While Strasser was crossing the finish line in Maryland, his closest solo competitor, Mark Pattinson of Great Britain was still traveling through Ohio, over 460 miles behind. Following Pattinson is the first-place rider in the 50-59 age group, Swiss rider, Hans-Rudolf “Hansi” Nyfeler. There are 39, of the 49 solo riders, remaining in the race.
Gerhard Gulewicz, who was second, behind Strasser for over half the race, had to withdraw due to a condition known as Shermer’s Neck. It is a condition where the neck muscles fail from fatigue and can no longer support the head. It is not a gradual ailment, after first feeling the symptoms, the neck will usually give out within two hours. The condition is named after long distance rider, Michael Shermer. He finished the Race Across America in 1982 and tried it again in 1983. About 2,000 miles into the ’83 race, Shermer suddenly was unable to hold his head up, and he was forced to prop his chin up with the palm of his hand to keep going. Thus, a new medical condition—called “Shermer’s Neck”— was named.
Sleep deprivation had been a problem for Strasser catching only 5 and a half hours of shut-eye since the beginning of the race on June 10th. “Since the 7th day it can happen that the reality will be distorted. He has experienced this often and he can handle it well, knowing when the perception of something does not fit.” said team Physician, Dr. Rainer Hochgatterer. The result of sleep deprivation has caused a lack of concentration at times “Simple things often need to be explained several times. In such phases the backing of his team is important.” Strasser dealt with emotional highs and lows during the last few days of the race. Sometimes euphoria would kick in with the feeling that the race was coming to an end and then despair when the finish line seemed so far away.
The lead RAAM team riders, which left Oceanside on Saturday, are currently north-east of St Louis, Missouri. The four person team of ‘Legends of the Road‘ leads the pack with team ‘Innovation Africa’ eleven miles back.
The majority of both team and solo riders are currently between Wichita, Kansas and St Louis, Missouri. Team Die Schimmelreiter, the Ultra Hand Bike Duo and solo rider, Ed Garriason are just outside Dodge City, Kansas. Most of the thunderstorms that have plagued the plains states in recent days have been north of the race course.