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RAAM Field at 250 Racers
Record Field for 2008 Edition of Transcontinental Bicycle Race

BOULDER, Colo. (December 17, 2007) -- More than 250 courageous athletes have pre-registered to compete in the 2008 Race Across America (RAAM). View 2008 roster here. RAAM is a non-stop, coast-to-coast race in June that will pass over two major mountain ranges, through the desert and across the American plains, and into the face of the severest weather patterns on the North American continent.

Now in its 27th year, the legendary event, known as the "world's toughest endurance race," inspires men and women of all ages, who spend a year out of their mostly ordinary lives training for the monumental challenge of pedaling across the United States to test the utmost limits of their physical strength, mental spirit, resilience and commitment.

The event has grown tremendously in the past few years, especially with the addition of team relay divisions. In 2006, 151 racers started RAAM, and last year, 192 racers pulled their wheels to the start line. Race Director, Terry Zmrhal, says, "Registration for the 2008 race is exceeding our projections. We usually receive many of our registrations in late winter; however, the surging popularity of RAAM around the world, is building a sense of urgency for our racing community."

To date, this year's field includes 23 solo racers and 53 relay team entities in either 2, 4 or 8 person configurations. The solo racers currently include 2 women and 21 men, representing the U.S.A., Canada, Germany, Italy, Austria, England, Switzerland, and Brazil. No previous champions have registered yet, however, traditionally, many solo racers will not commit to RAAM until early spring.

Of the registered solo racers, five racers are veteran RAAM solo competitors. David Haase (Fond du Lac, WI) finished in 4th place in both 2005 and 2006. Haase's experience should allow him to better his 2006 time of 9 days, 21 hours and 41 minutes, and make him a contender for the overall championship.

David Jones (Canoga Park, CA) is set to return in his third attempt at RAAM. He finished the 2007 race in 12 days, 1 hour and 15 minutes, and at age 61 became the oldest solo finisher of the RAAM.

Four of the registered solo racers have graduated to the solo division after participation on a relay team in the past. These racers will face the challenge of adapting their training from the short, intense efforts needed for team relay racing, to the non-stop ultra endurance needs of the solo division. One benefit that previous team racers have in converting to the solo division, is that they have experience assembling the logistical needs to race across the country, and have experienced a glimpse of the sleep management issues needed for a non-stop, 3,000 mile race.

Team categories will also offer up their share of suspense, as men and women, aged 18-75, join up as teams of two, four or eight, to race across the country in relay format, and attempt to finish in five to seven days (compared with the 8-12 days of a Solo effort). The 2007 race saw intense competition as several of the lead teams stayed within minutes, and sight, of each other for the first 4 days! Zmrhal said, "The excitement of the team racing amazed me. Watching the teams hammer at time trial speed, in the middle of the night, just blew me away!"

There are 53 teams currently registered. Currently, teams are representing the U.S.A., Canada, U.K., France, Switzerland, Austria, Norway and Luxembourg. Highlights include a team with several 75 year old men, two teams of women aged 50+ and 60+, and at least 5 teams competing in the mixed-gender division.

For those inspired by the challenge of RAAM, but lacking the time off or resources, RAAM now offers a two additional events that occur simultaneously with the signature cross-country race. New for 2008, RAAM presents the Race Across the West, which is a 1,000 mile race that finishes in Taos, NM. RAAM also continues to offer a 24-hour race on its first 500 miles, to Flagstaff, Arizona Each of these events, start with the signature event in Oceanside, CA on June 8th and utilize the same route, rules, and logistics of RAAM. Registration for these races has been well accepted with over 30 racers committed.

Racer registration remains open; although a field cap is expected. Interested racers should act soon to secure a spot in the 2008 field. Registration information can be found at the event webpage www.raceacrossamerica.org, or, you can e-mail questions to the Race Director at director@raceacrossamerica.org.

About the Race Across America (RAAM)

The Race Across America, known as the "world's toughest bicycle race", will set over 250 competitors on a 3,000-mile route stretching from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland. Athletes race continuously day and night, on their own power or sharing the challenge with a team, and a crew of 8 -15 people following in support cars with food and supplies for the race. These courageous adventurers brave heat, wind, thunderstorms, altitude, the dark of night, fatigue, and sleep deprivation, cross two major mountain ranges, and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. For more information and race updates, see http://www.raceacrossamerica.org.

Haldeman Award for 2007

RAAM is pleased to announce that Team Shannon's Soldiers is the recipient of the first annual Lon Haldeman Award for excellence in charitable fundraising. Pat Mahoney of Phoenix, Az was the driving force behind this team's effort that raised over $650,000 for the Children's Tumor Foundation.

Mahoney's daughter, Shannon, has neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic disorder affecting a child's chromosomes, which can cause tumors, learning disabilities, blindness, deafness, and a higher likelihood of cancer. He has raised funds for NF research for 16 years. However, Mahoney's fundraising associated with his RAAM effort was far beyond anything he had accomplished before. But, isn't that what RAAM inspires in people?

Mahoney learned of RAAM for the first time only 51 weeks prior to the race start. He immediately recognized the enormity of RAAM, and felt it was the perfect platform to set his charitable efforts apart from the norm. Mahoney is a real estate developer and gathered what he called his “A-Team” of 15 business associates to solicit donations on his behalf. Mahoney's significant personal contribution paved the way for the formula to far exceed everyone's expectations.

If only his cycling team had of come together as easily. Mahoney had the initial support from his local teammate, John Asher, but didn't complete his team until the last minute with family friends Peter Alexandre and Dan Schmidt, from California. Mahoney is relatively new to cycling, and was worried that their team would struggle to meet the deadline. In retrospect, he was surprised how fast a group of four riders, “in reasonable shape” could cross the country.

At the finish line, Mahoney indicated RAAM was a “one-time deal.” His driving motivation for participating in RAAM was to raise funds for the Children's Tumor Foundation. However, after two months of continuing support and excitement from his local community, the passion and possibilities of the RAAM experience have grown. We hope to see Pat Mahoney, and his team of Shannon's Soldiers in RAAM again some day.

About Lon Haldeman

Lon Haldeman's cycling achievements in many ways defined the sport of ultracycling. Yet, when you meet Lon on one of the PAC Tours that he leads what comes through is not his cycling prowess, but his humbleness and helpfulness toward others.
In recognition of all that Lon Haldeman has done on- and off-the-bike RAAM is establishing the Lon Haldeman Award. The award will be presented annually to the RAAM rider or team which raises the most funds (per rider) for the charity of their choice. The recipients will each receive a custom plaque from Lon.

Ian Sandbach Award for 2007

The Ian Sandbach Award is presented to the most inspirational RAAM racer. The award was created to preserve the legacy of Ian Sandbach (1937-1999) who raced as a member of the record-setting, 1995 PAC Masters 60+ team. Past awardees have demonstrated courage in the face of adversity, or simply displayed selfless generosity to their brethren in competition.

The 2007 award is presented to John Spurgeon who defied all odds to officially finish RAAM on a combination of two, single-speed bicycles. John has been a devotee of single and fixed-gear racing in the past few years and after qualifying for RAAM at Race Across Oregon, quietly set out to conquer the ultimate race. All observers said that John was crazy to attempt RAAM with a self-imposed limitation in equipment. But John's unwavering belief and determination, coupled with his upbeat attitude, propelled him to accomplish the seemingly impossible.

Every time we witnessed John during the race, he had a sense of wonder about the adventure. He never displayed either cockiness, or fear about his challenge; rather a deep sense of respect for RAAM. When you read the following quotes from John, you'll understand why.

What was the most memorable moment in RAAM?

“The moment I'll remember the most was at a time station in Kansas. It was at the very end of the day, and the sun was setting. A bunch of people were there. I told my crew to get some food, and they came back with a bunch of food. I spent a while at that time station eating and talking. While I was there, I saw this kid named Josh, about my son's age. I saw him sitting over in a chair, and he was upset about something. I started talking to him. I could tell that he was doing better. I took off my cycling gloves and handed them to him. “It looks like you'll have big hands some day and be able to grow into these,” I said to him. He gave me a hug. After the race I got some nice e-mails from him and his family. For the rest of the race, I thought about that moment and about how RAAM is about people and making friends and touching other people's lives. It was really a defining moment for me. One of those moments where you kind of feel like a superhero, and responsible for doing your best and making people proud of you. It was very uplifting.”

What does winning the Sandbach Award mean to you?

“I guess that it's very flattering. I don't know. It's very humbling. I looked at everyone else involved in the race. I don't feel like I'm any more deserving of this award than any of my fellow riders. Most of the riders I encountered were very friendly and very giving of advice and help. David Jones, for example…61 years old and kicking my butt. All were incredible athletes and sportsmen. I feel like I'd like to share the award with people like that and almost accept it on their behalf.”

Wow! The Grand PAC Masters: Victor Gallo, Lee 'Fuzzy' Mitchell, and Ron Bell, are proud that John Spurgeon has continued the sporting legacy of their dear friend, Ian Sandbach. Bravo John, bravo!

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