The Opal Wapoo Gravel Grinder combined the best of both worlds – a challenging, scenic gravel route that started and ended in a town full of hospitality, Excelsior Springs. The race started and ends during the Waterfest, an annual festival celebrating Excelsior Springs’ mineral water heritage. Riders were led out of town by a 1953 Johnny Popper (John Deere) tractor, and within a few miles they left pavement and hit the gravel roads and journey through the Missouri countryside. Riders traveled down hilly, curvy, flat, tree-lined roads, past streams, possibly through streams in a low-water crossing, in an area where the terrain was ever-changing. The ride continued through the Crooked Creek Conservation area and just as they got used to the rolling hills, the course took riders through the river bottoms past corn fields, down gravel that looked like it touched the horizon. As they rode back into town, the party was waiting at the finish in the middle of the Waterfest, an annual festival in Excelsior Springs.
The riders were told to be prepared to be challenged – the hills were not for the faint of heart! There was 5,000+ feet of climb on the 100-mile Wapoo race and around 4,000+ feet of climb on the 52-mile Opal race. These gravel routes mixed in long, gradual hills with short, steep hills. But what goes up must come down, with an almost equal amount of descent!
The top Male Overall 100-Mile Wapoo finishers who grabbed a podium blazed the course and even better – set the bar high for future course records. Rob Hall of Smithville, MO placed 1st Overall in 5:03:55. Scott Williamson of Lawrence, Kansas placed 2nd in 5:06:33 and Lawrence Simonson of Columbia, Missouri placed 3rd in 5:06:34.
Congrats to the top overall Female finishers in the Wapoo 100-Mile race! Podium spots went to 1st Place Mikayla Smith of Lenexa, Kansas in 6:48:31. 2nd Place went to Krissee Pitts of Kansas City, Missouri in 6:55:59. 3rd Place went to Nan Lueckert of Smithville, Missouri in 6:58:39.
For more race results visit facebook.com/opalwapoo.