Hundreds compete in Copper Harbor Trails Fest bike races

Samuel Kilpela, of Atlantic Mine, descends in the long-course cross country mountain bike race in the Copper Harbor Trails Fest on Saturday. Kilpela finished third. (Chris Schmidt /Courtesy Photo)

COPPER HARBOR — Those of us that live in the greater Keweenaw understand what makes our area great.

People, culture, natural beauty and outdoor sports.

The Bell’s Beer Copper Harbor Trails fest this past weekend drew a crowd that enjoyed all four of those.

Four main events were contested over two days on Saturday and Sunday of the Labor Day weekend. The mountain bike cross country races, with a long course of about 30 miles and the short course of about 14 miles both started in downtown Copper Harbor and proceeded along the extensive trail system of the International Mountain Bicycling Association Silver Level ride center.

Adam Swank of Duluth, Minnesota won with a time of 2 hours, 32 minutes and 13 seconds, coming in just over a minute in front of the rest of the field. The female 30-mile winner was Hanna Derby of Marquette (2:57:52).

One-hundred thirty-nine male and female athletes competed in the 30-mile race. The 14-mile drew 110 people.

Later in the day on Saturday thrill seekers took to the north slope of Brockway Mountain for the mountain bike downhill race on the Overflow Trail. Each rider took two runs over exceedingly difficult and dangerous terrain, with the best of those counting for places. Riders were shuttled by van to the start for each run.

Ryan Boushee of Boise, Idaho had the fastest time of 2 minutes, 54.5 seconds. There were 53 competitors in the male event. Boushee edged Eric Palosaari of Chassell by only 1.3 seconds. Derby’s second run of 3:42.6 earned the women’s downhill title out of five competitors.

Sunday morning brought the 10-kilometer trail run, featuring a new course and 84 participants. One of the prime challenges of this route was sending runners up the Downtown mountain bike trail towards the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. Downtown is usually closed to uphill and foot traffic and presented awesome rock features for racers to run, climb or crawl up. Joel Coon of DePere, Wisconsin ran a very fast time — considering the arduous and technical nature of the course — winning the foot race in 51 minutes, 59 seconds. Top female runner Alexandra Bott of Marquette also came in under an hour with a time of 58:08.

Wrapping up the schedule on Sunday was the mountain bike enduro race. Like downhill, this type of race consists of timed descents over rough terrain and man-made features. However in enduro, riders must climb under their own power up to the start of each timed stage. Total time for all stages decides the winners.

Casey Krueger of Copper Harbor took home the top prize for the men’s expert class with Morgan Barkley of Bentonville, Arkansas winning the female expert division. There were 135 male and female participants in the expert division.