The Kona Endurance Team was hard at it in 2015, battling it out in World Cup XC, marathon, multi-day stage racing…even the odd gravel grinder. We take a look back at the 2015 race season and celebrate the successes of Kona’s four trail savvy, perennially podium questing athletes.
Spencer started the 2015 season with the primary objective of pursing a campaign for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Spencer would go on to finish consistently amongst the top three Americans in four rounds of the World Cup, qualifying for and competing in his first major games (Toronto Pan Am Games, America’s precursor to the Olympics), capping off the season at the World Championships by passing more than half of the field to finish as the 40th fastest XC rider in the world and 2nd American. Along the way, Spencer posted strong results at other major North American events such as the Whiskey Off Road, had a memorable performance at the BC Bike Race, where he overcame a major setback in stage two, only to surge back into contention the next day, erasing a 7-minute time deficit in a single stage, going on to finish 2nd overall. 2015 certainly ended on a high note for Spencer, and the stage is set for an exciting 2016. We are expecting to see Spencer’s name near the top of the “short list” for the U.S. Olympic team. That list will come out in December, and the final qualification will conclude May 2016.
2015 was a busy year for Kona’s hardman marathon racer, travelling the world with marathon racing and adventure trips to Vietnam, Bali, Europe, Morocco, Costa Rica, and throughout North America. Winning five out of six stages and the overall at Singletrack 6 was the highlight of his year, although racing through the deserts of Morocco and the highlands of Vietnam were geographical standouts. Racing in Europe was a big learning curve for Cory but will payoff in dividends in the years to come. The Rincon de la Vieja 100 miler in Costa Rica around an active volcano was the adventure of the year with downpours in the rainforest followed up with scorching heat in the dry dusty outback. Travelling with the team to Colorado for the Breck Epic and Leadville 100 was one of the most fun trips of the year as we did battle with some of the top marathon riders in the World at 10,000 feet. Cory finished the year with a very strong 4th place finish at the 2016 World 24 Solo Championships in Weaverville, California.
2015 saw perennial Kona racer Barry Wicks tackling some new adventures. Attending the inaugural Trans-Cascadia Enduro, a 4 day stage race featuring blind racing through the backcountry near Oakridge, Oregon was a true highlight. Barry was on the podium with stage wins at BCBR, Breck Epic and was 4th at the Downieville XC. Challenging conditions at the DK200 took Barry out of contention, but he will be back with a vengeance to conquer the mud and wind of the Flint Hills next year. After winning the inaugural Giro Grinduro, Barry’s ready to race a few select UCI cyclocross races going into the 2016 season.
In Kris’ own mind, he found this season a bit trying results wise, but that’s only because he is his own toughest critic. Kris is always in the trenches fighting through the amazing single track of North America’s premier stage races, usually taking names in the process. From the lush forest of BCBR to the dusty deserts of ST3, to the wicked rock gardens and high altitude of Downieville, and the huge rides of BREK EPIC, Kris was riding his heart out, spreading his infectious determination, guts and willingness to preserver to the cycling world at large. Kris had podium performances this season at BCBR, and there still isn’t anyone that can keep sight of him on his backyard trails. For 2016, Kris begins his transition away from racing full time, but expect him to pop up on podiums throughout North America when the going get tough. There’s just no stopping this guy.