The Last Dog Standing was even more of a test of courage than usual this year. It was held on one of the hottest weekends of the summer so far, but the top riders seemed unbothered. KTM’s Cody Webb, in particular, appeared to have an exceptionally easy ride en route to his third consecutive victory. There were, in fact, only three official finishers this year out of 117 starters: Webb, Cory Graffunder and Kyle Redmond. Mitch Carvolth and Garrett Carlson were also given credit for finishing a single loop of the final race.
The format has been slightly altered from previous years as the Prairie Dogs MC tries to find the proper way to mix amateurs with the world’s best Pro Hard Enduro riders, who can seemingly do anything. This time there was a Prologue followed by three progressively more difficult races. The Prologue was for Professional riders only, and Last Dog 1 was a one-hour GP over comparatively mild terrain for sportsman. The results of those two events determine the start order for Last Dog 2, which has an eight mile-course with some of the most difficult obstacles that the club members could dream up. If you finish within 45 minutes of the leader in that race, you proceed to Last Dog Three, which is two loops of the same course with some added sections. This year Cory Graffunder won the 15-minute Prologue, Michael Allen won Last Dog 1 and that set the stage for a harsh culling process in Last Dog 2. There were at least three hills that were incredibly difficult, a full EnduroCross course, mud holes, a teeter-totter and the infamous Tractor Tire Mountain. All of that is in addition to extreme natural terrain like Last Dog Canyon, which is a long, painfully slow downhill in the bowls of Glen Helen Regional Park.
Cody Webb won that event easily, with a 10 minute advantage over Graffunder and Redmond. Then the clock ticked down for 45 minutes. Carvolth, Mike Aranda, Justin Bonita, Garett Carlson, Colton Haaker, Michael Allen, Andrew Puckett, Joe Bridges, Robert Baehr, Dillon Carlson, Kevin Murphy and Ryan Gouveia all made it in within the time limit.
Most riders didn’t make it to the first checkpoint in the final race. There was a vertical hill that stopped even the best riders. Eventually, riders formed alliances to help each other. On the second lap, only Webb, Graffunder and Redmond made it far enough to see the hill again, and all three required assistance. Webb got away early while Graffunder and Redmond battled for second place. World Super Enduro Champion Colton Haaker was actually a no-show for the start of the final race because of an injury he sustained earlier in the day.
As the race went on, there seemed fewer and fewer bikes moving. Some were stuck on the first hill, others were on Tractor Tire Mountain. The only flaw in Cody Webb’s day was when he rode past some course markings and missed a moderately difficult hill, on both loops. When he finished at the end of the day, he was informed of his penalty; he would have to return to that spot and climb the hill twice before the next rider arrived. He did this easily, but wasn’t especially happy about it.