LAST DOG STANDING 2015

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Taylor Robert survived a battle with Cory Graffunder to finish second.
Taylor Robert survived a battle with Cory Graffunder to finish second.

The debate over which race is really “America’s Toughest” will rage on, but the 2015 Last Dog Standing, organized the the Prairie Dogs MC at Glen Helen Raceway, was clearly the most difficult in that race’s five-year history. By the time it was over, there were only four riders who finished. Of the four, it was EnduroCross champion Cody Webb who stood above all, winning by a huge margin at the end of four stages of racing.

Even Webb didn’t make it look easy. On the very last loop he took a big head dive in plain view of the crowd below. “That could have ended the day right there,” he said later. “Luckily I saw it coming and managed to get off the bike early. Other then that, the last loop was my best. I cleaned most of the sections and it went pretty smoothly.”

Mike Brown and teammate Colton Haaker worked together on many of the sections.
Mike Brown and teammate Colton Haaker worked together on many of the sections.

The only rider who challenged Webb all day was Taylor Robert. Robert won the Prologue early in the day where the Pros had a short race for start position, and then the two KTM riders fought their way through LDS2, which was a single lap around an 18-mile course, filled with various man-man and natural challenges. “At first Taylor and I were racing like it was a motocross, but once I got away, I started settling down and using trials technique to get around the course,” said Webb. In the meantime, the elite of the EnduroCross world struggled to keep up. Colton Haaker, Mike Brown, Cory Graffunder and Kyle Redmond all worked the course, getting stuck in different places. The course included a full EnduroCross track designed by Ty Davis, a teeter-totter over a “water feature” built by Desert MC, the infamous 15-foot High Dive and the main attraction for this year, a three-story mountain of truck tires. It was the tire mountain that took out most of the field, leaving only 11 riders for the final round of action. Most of the Pro riders were still intact, and they were joined by three riders who qualified out of a morning Amateur race.

Cory Graffunder  and Taylor Robert on the  final lap.
Cory Graffunder and Taylor Robert on the final lap.

The final race consisted of two laps around the same course, with several additional hillclimbs thrown in. The Robert versus Webb dual continued, but this time Webb managed to gap his adversary early. In fact, Kyle Redmond and Cory Graffunder also passed Robert, who had a clear height disadvantage in physical sections that required bike lifting. Redmond eventually got clear of those two and seemed capable of at least matching Webb’s pace for a while.

In the meantime, Mike Brown got off the course and was penalized for riding the wrong section. Dalton Shirey and Michael Allen, both of whom qualified out of the Sportsman race, made it about halfway through before deciding they had enough. And Colton Haaker was having bike trouble that had him straightening  bent parts whenever he had a chance. As they started the final loop, Webb had an immense lead over Redmond, who also opened a gap for himself. Next, it was an exhausting battle between Robert and Graffunder. In the final stages of the race, Redmond, who had been sick all week, dropped out with a case of dehydration, and Robert managed to get get clear of Graffunder. That’s how they finished with Colton Haaker collecting the fourth and final finishing position. Afterward, Webb admitted that he was trying to prove a point after losing out in the Austin X-Games last week to Brown and Robert. Official results are still pending while the sheets from various check points are consulted to figure out who made it farthest of the remaining riders.

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