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Still top of the trails: Peariso prevails as Trails Festival takes Copper Harbor

September 2, 2012
By Stephen Anderson - DMG Sports Writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

COPPER HARBOR - The 19th annual Bell's Beer Copper Harbor Trails Festival culminated with 29- and 17-mile bike races, finished by 463 total participants, but it's not just the racing that brings more and more people to Copper Harbor's world-class trail system each Labor Day weekend.

"What makes this race unique as opposed to a lot of the different mountain bike races throughout the Midwest is the fact that it is more of a festival," Copper Harbor Trails Club President Aaron Rogers said. "It's a cap-off to the whole year of mountain biking. ... It's as much the atmosphere as it is the race."

Even Chris Peariso, who won the long race for the sixth time with a time of 2 hours, 2 minutes and 55 seconds, admits something is unique about the CHTF races.

Article Photos

Chris Peariso bikes through “The Flow” trail in the 29-mile race Sunday afternoon in Copper Harbor on the way to his sixth victory in the event during the Bell’s Beer Copper Harbor Trails Festival. For more photos, visit (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)

"The food, the hanging out, the atmosphere, it's just something we don't get to experience very often," said Peariso, who races professionally for his Adventure 212 Specialized team from Stevens Point, Wis. "Usually it's game face and you don't get the time to hang out with all the people you usually race with."

It turns out Peariso did plenty of hanging out on the trail, too, as teammate Darrin Braun finished second (2:02:56.8), followed shortly after by regular top five finishers Brian Matter (2:03:10.8) and Tyler Gauthier (2:03:29.8).

Those four spent most of the last of two laps together, and Braun opened the door for Periso.

Fact Box

Men's 29-mile (120 participants)

1. Chris Peariso, Stevens Point, Wis., 2:02:55.0; 2. Darrin Braun, Stevens Point, Wis., 2:02:56.8; 3. Brian Matter, Sheboygan, Wis., 2:03:10.8; 4. Tyler Gauthier, Ishpeming, 2:03:29.8; 5. Jan Roubal, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 2:04:27.3; 6. Pete Karinen, Painesdale, 2:06:37.3; 7. Tom Carpenter, Marquette, 2:09:20.0; 8. Scott Cole, Stevens Point, Wis., 2:11:30.0; 9. Ryan Krayer, Stevens Point, Wis. 2:11:31.5; 10. Ben Koenig, Schofield, Wis., 2:12:29.5;

11. Trevor Koss, Antigo, Wis., 2:12:31.8; 12. Matthew Colligan, Marquette, 2:13:02.0; 13. Chris Schotz, Gleason, Wis., 2:15:22.0; 14. Justin Weber, Dollar Bay, 2:15:25.3; 15. Scott Irwin, Barrie, Ont., 2:15:27.0; 16. Ryan Tervo, Chassell, 2:16:57.3; 17. Greg Prodan, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 2:16:57.5; 18. David Maclean, Ludington, Mich., 2:18:29.8; 19. Alex Schultz, Oxford, Mich., 2:18:29.8; 20. Colby Lash, Marquette, 2:18:59.0.

Women's 29-mile (14 participants)

1. Cooper Dendel, Marquette, 2:31:45.8; 2. Diana McFadden, Duluth, Minn., 2:38:33.3; 3. Beth Wagner, Pelican Lake, Wis., 2:43:06.5; 4. Lisa Krayer, Stevens Point, Wis., 2:47:15.5; 5. Michelle Peariso, Stevens Point, Wis., 2:47:15.8.

Men's 17-mile (184 participants)

1. Daniel Henderson, Hancock, 1:14:14.0; 2. Parker McColl, Mohawk, 1:16:46.5; 3. Collin Kytta, Negaunee, 1:18:15.5; 4. Cody McGrath, Negaunee, 1:19:33.5; 5. Sam Olson, Duluth, Minn., 1:20:44.5; 6. Caleb Wendel, Houghton, 1:21:40.5; 7. Connor McColl, Mohawk, 1:21:44.0; 8. Craig Thomas, Marquette, 1:21:49.0; 9. Todd Tollefson, L'Anse, 1:23:16.0; 10. Greg Steltenpohl, Marquette, 1:23:43.7;

11. Bill Mulligan, Lake Mills, Wis., 1:23:47.2; 12. Griffin Myslivecek, Grand Rapids, Minn., 1:24:57.7; 13. Chuck Renders, Negaunee, 1:25:02.0; 14. Scott Golomski, Greenfield, Wis., 1:27:18.7; 15. Isaac Wendt, Rhinelander, Wis., 1:28:16.8; 16. Richard Wiita, Calumet, 1:28:19.5; 17. Chad Landowski, Marquette, 1:30:51.0; 18. Michael Landowski, Lake Mills, Wis., 1:30:55.2; 19. Matthew Wiita, Calumet, 1:31:09.7; 20. Evandro Ficanha, Houghton, 1:31:22.5.

Women's 17-mile (35 participants)

1. Jennifer Barden, Wausau, Wis., 1:32:58.0; 2. Andrea Matter, Sheboygan, Wis., 1:33:01.0; 3. Lianna Miller, Hancock, 1:41:04.3; 4. Michelle Brittnacher, Marquette, 1:42:23.8; 5. Michelle LeVeque, Ada, Mich., 1:44:51.0; 6. Jennie Loney, Dubuque, Iowa, 1:48:01.0; 7. Lydia Allen, Duluth, Minn., 1:52:57.0; 8. Christina Smigowski, Chassell, 1:53:28.3; 9. Erin Johnson, Calumet, 1:54:18.0; 10. Allison Slavick, Cable, Wis., 1:57:01.8;

11. Tina Peppin, Marquette, 1:58:49.0; 12. Kirsti Brunet, Marquette, 2:00:38.8; 13. Margaret Twichell, Marquette, 2:02:51.0; 14. Elise Manders, De Pere, Wis., 2:06:40.0; 15. Lisa Spreitzer, Gladstone, 2:06:46.8; 16. Vonda Johnston, Davenport, Iowa, 2:06:52.5; 17. Rachel Chard, Atlantic Mine, 2:07:30.8; 18. Erica Voslcuhl, Negaunee, 2:07:47.8; 19. Katrina Carlson, Houghton, 2:09:26.3; 20. Jenni Johnson, Marquette, 2:12:07.8.

"When we shot out the last section of trail on the pavement, my teammate got probably about a 10-15 second gap and made Tyler chase, which softened his legs," Peariso said. "When they went to set up the corner I just took the inside line and sprinted for the finish line."

The strategy worked for Peariso, who also won the long race (varying distances, 29 for the first time last year) in 2005-2007 and 2010 through this year. He finished second by a tenth of a second in 2009 when he and Braun tried to tie, but iTiming's chip technology technically awarded Braun the win. Peariso blew out a tire and couldn't finish in 2008, but teammate Braun went on to win anyways.

Painesdale's Pete Karinen, 16, was the top local finisher in the 29-mile race in a time of 2:06:37.3.

Unlike the men's race, the women's 29-mile event featured a first-time winner in Cooper Dendel (2:31:45.8), from Marquette.

"I'm so excited. I was second overall last year, and it was my goal race for this year," she said. "I worked really hard. I knew I had to push it up Brockway and try to get to the single-track before some of the other girls because single-track is my strength."

She conquered the technical course, loaded with plenty of challenging inclines and descents, ahead of last year's first-place finisher Diana McFadden from Duluth, Minn.

The 17-mile men's race was won by 15-year-old Daniel Henderson from Hancock, competing for the fourth time in his young career under the tutelage of Matter.

"He prepared me well for the race," Henderson said. "I planned out my schedule months ago, and this is one of the races I wanted to take. I did it. It's always good to plan for something and achieve what you've been working toward. ... I was pumped to finally get this one."

Jennifer Barden, from Wausau, Wis., followed up last year's third-place finish by winning this year's course on what Henderson called "gnarly" trails.

"It seems like everything went great. ... We have a great turnout," said Sam Raymond, who has been race director at the festival for 15 years. "It's really grown significantly over the years."

The CHTC hopes to make it even bigger this year, and under the three year sponsorship of Bell's Brewery, they'll be making continued improvements to the Copper Harbor trails, including work on a 35-mile loop around the tip of the Keweenaw that starts and ends in Copper Harbor and links to the current trail system.

"We use this as one of our largest fundraisers of the year to raise funds for building all the mountain bike trails in Copper Harbor," Rogers said. "This is our best year ever, and it kees getting bigger and better every year. ... Quite honestly, we couldn't be happier with the outcome."

The festival also included a junior race, a new enduro race, a group ride on the trails, a reception, live music by Steppin' In It, cookout and awards presentation.

For full race results, visit For race photos, visit For more information on the Copper Harbor Trails Club, visit



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