COLUMBIA CITY – Last weekend, Northeastern REMC’s Brent Buckles participated in the Marji Gesick 100-mile mountain bike race in Ishpeming, Michigan.
This grueling mountain bike race is labeled as the “toughest race in the Midwest.” The course designer, Danny Hill, describes his job is to make the course as tough as possible. The 100-mile course in Michigan includes rough terrain, rocks, massive hills, with an elevation of 12,300 feet.
There are no official aid stations along the trail to make the race even more challenging. Because of this, Josh Traxler, friend and colleague of Buckles, volunteered to be Buckle’s one-person aid station throughout the entire 22-hour race. Every 20 miles, Traxler provided food, water, and anything else Buckles needed, including oiling the chain on his bike, charging his GPS, and most importantly, encouragement.
Many who compete in this race noted that the mental toughness required is almost as important as physical strength. It’s rumored that close to 70% of those who start this race do not finish.
“Brent is a machine. There’s no one else in this entire building that could do what he did,” says Traxler.
Buckles encountered many challenges throughout the day and night. He described 40% of the race required pushing his bike uphill while he climbed the steep incline of many of the hills.
The race started at 7:30 in the morning on Saturday, and Buckles finished shortly before 6 a.m. on Sunday. His official race time was 22:18. Buckles placed 162nd out of 521 racers.
“Having Josh there was vital in getting me to the finish line,” says Buckles. “This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Even the endless hours I spent training for this race did not fully prepare me for how tough it would be,” he added.
The Marji Gesick race is a production of the 906 Adventure Team, a non-profit organization with a mission to empower people to become the best versions of themselves through outdoor adventure. For more information about this race and testimonies from riders, visit www.marjigesick.com.