2023 KEYSTONE CHALLENGE: TOUGH LIKE RORR

The Keystone Challenge was an all-new double header race weekend in Pennsylvania, that combined Tough Like RORR in Tamaqua and the Shotgun Hard Scramble in Sugarloaf. Both of these venues are only 30 minutes apart, so the Reading Off Road Riders and High Mountain Dirt Riders worked together to run on the same three-day weekend, to make it more convenient for racers traveling to both events and to create one of the most challenging hard enduro weekends of the year. As a result, there was a record turnout for both races, with 350 racers entering for TLR and about 280 at the Shotgun. Having these two events on the same weekend, the US Hard Enduro Series created a bonus points structure that would award competitors that finished well in both events, which incentivized racers to compete in both for the series championships.

Tough Like RORR

Tough Like RORR has long been regarded as one of the most challenging offroad races in the United States. Running since 2015, Rob Mohn and the Reading Off Road Riders have progressively made this course more difficult over the years, building a wildly steep course through the treacherous rock gardens of coal country. On Saturday, there was a qualifier and a LCQ, which narrowed down the field of racers for Sunday’s 6-hour main race to only 70. This race consisted of an easier first loop, then a much more difficult second loop that thinned out the field. Will Riordan grabbed the holeshot for the main race, but the drama began right out of the gate when Cooper Abbott and Trystan Hart came together at the start, crashing down and fortunately avoiding a major incident as the other racers rushed around them.

The lead pack for the first lap consisted of Cody Webb, Ryder LeBlond, Trystan Hart, and Jonny Walker. Hart came into his pit panicked as he was missing his right footpeg. Instead of letting the lead pack slip away, he left the pit without taking the time to fix it, in hopes that he can replace them on the trail at some point. As competitors were completing the first lap, the second lap was where the majority of them would end their race. Hart Attack, Nightmare, and Wrong Side of Heaven were just some of the sections that the promoters included in lap two, in hopes that it would push the limits of everyone who qualified in the top-70. Webb and Hart were

battling for the lead on lap two, and Walker began to pull ahead of LeBlond. Adding to Hart’s misfortunes, he then broke off his second footpeg while on the second lap. He never had the opportunity to get replacement footpegs on the trail, and instead focused on battling Webb without one of the most vital parts on his race bike. Webb had a scary crash past the halfway point of lap two, and Hart gained time and ended up winning Tough Like RORR by completing the two laps in 3 hours and 26 minutes, without footpegs. Webb finished behind Hart about 8 minutes behind, while Walker came in 25 minutes later and rounded off the podium for third place. Will Riordan finished in fourth place, and the UK’s Jack Price finished in fifth.

Sandra Gomez traveled from Spain to race this weekend in the Pro Women’s class, where she qualified in the top-70 and finished 26th overall! Rachel Gutish and Hallie Marks rounded off the podium.

Only 12 racers finished both laps of Tough Like RORR, and it was very challenging for all of them. Nicer weather (it has traditionally been held on July 4th weekend) and dryer conditions probably contributed to more racers finishing than the past few years. Some racers were out there for the full 6 hours, but a good portion also just completed their one lap and saved their energy and equipment for the next day.

 

 

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