Two thirds of the way into the North American Enduro Series, the first chance for Pacific Northwest racers to secure Enduro World Series points arrives in Whistler.
The Whistler Fall Classic is the only race in British Columbia and Washington State where racers can accumulate points toward qualifying for the Enduro World Series in 2017—and the top Pro Man, Woman, Masters racer and U21 racers will automatically qualify.
“This is a big opportunity. The EWS is the top echelon for enduro racing, and it’s truly an experience to race internationally. There are only 20 of these feeder events in the world. Racers can accumulate points from these events, and their top three races secure them a ranking to qualify for the EWS. To have this event here in Whistler is huge for racers from all over the area,” says Darren Kinnaird, NAET General Manager.
Based in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, and surrounding valley, all the organizers are willing to say is that it will be a five stage race. As with most NAET events, the official race course will only be release the week of the event, in this case next Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, but given the lay of the land, it’s sure to be technically challenging, with lots of flow on the bike park’s famous loam.
The race itself has a $3000 prize pot, and those racing NAET for the prize money are also closing in on a hefty win. Racers must race four events of the eight and show up for the final race in Mascota, Mexico for a chance at the $7000 prize pot. First place will earn $2000, second $1000 and third $500.
Vancouver-based Australian racer Josh Carlson, and Bend, Oregon’s Porscha Murdock are each currently in the series lead, with 700 points each.
Carlson missed the last round in Bellingham, after placing third in Whistler’s EWS race, the SRAM Canadian Open Enduro presented by Specialized, two weeks before, but he did absolutely slay The Gryphon presented by Giro in Squamish earlier in August.
“I really enjoy racing locally in the corridor and the atmosphere at these events is what brings me back every time. Squamish has some of the best trails in the world and the mix of courses we raced gives a glimpse of what’s on offer. The timing was slick, and everything went smoothly, from a racer’s point of view, which always makes for a nicer event,” he said.
Carlson used it as a practice for his EWS race, winning all five stages. He bested Dustin Adams, second, and Dylan Wolsky, third, and was joined at the top of the podium by Leonie Picton, who beat out Laura Battista and Mikayla Martin, second and third respectively.
The next race in the series saw the locals take the wins at The Cascadia Dirt Cup Series Finale: Chuckanut Enduro, with Kim Hardin and Carson Elswald securing the Pro categories over Jason Elswald, second, and Luke Strobel, third, for the men, and Dawn Fidler, second, and Emily Sabelhaus, third, for the women.
The latest NAET rankings can be found online at NAETMTB.com, along with the results of individual racers.
Course release for the Whistler Fall Classic is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 9 am. It will be released on NAETMTB.com and Pinkbike.com. Registration for this one-day enduro is still open at NAETMTB.com/registration.