challenge at Mountwood rides another year | News, Sports, Jobs

The Pro/expert category goes through. (Photo by James Dobbs)

WAVERLY – Around 186 participants showed up to take part in the Challenge at Mountwood (Park) on Sunday.

Vince Nedeff, president of the River Valley Mountain Bike Association and race director of the Challenge in Mountwood (Park), said he had volunteered for the challenge for 10 years. He said that before volunteering, he used to attend the event.

“To me, this is a great way to highlight some really positive things in the Central Valley of Ohio,” he said. “Mountwood Park is a hidden gem on the east coast, some of the best mountain biking on some of the greatest trails around.”

Nedeff said the River Valley Mountain Bike Association has held the Challenge in Mountwood for 28 years. He said he thought it was important to showcase the sport and, more importantly, the children who participate in it. He said it wasn’t kid-friendly 10 years ago, but has grown in popularity through NICA teams and other mountain bike promotions.

NICA or the National Interscholastic Cycling Association helps develop mountain bike programs for students across the United States.

The sport class of runners rush off the starting line. (Photo by James Dobbs)

Nedeff said there were three main racing categories the challenge was split into, pro/expert, sport and beginner. He said they usually allocate between three and five spots for each race category depending on the size of the class and the top three in the pro/expert category receive a cash payment. He said the Sport and Beginner categories receive a variety of mountain bike-related prizes like accessories, tools, helmets, socks and gear, among other prizes. He said the prize money came from the race entry fee. He said first place in the pro/expert class gets $100, second place gets $60, and third place gets $40.

“It’s good to see everyone again” he said.

Nedeff said COVID-19 had affected the participation rate in the challenge. He said during the 2020 pandemic they held a virtual run where people tracked their miles on an app on their phone. He said the 2021 event was attended by around 100 people.

“So it’s a big leap from that,” he said.

Kaya Toler, 16, said she has been mountain biking for about four years. Toler attends Winfield High School and won first place in the Sport, Women’s Open Division of the race.

The riders lined up at the start before the Challenge at Mountwood. (Photo by James Dobbs)

Nedeff explained that pro/expert runners ride about 24 miles, while athletic runners ride 16 miles and beginner runners about eight.

Toler said her father, Tracy Toler, got her interested in the sport.

“My dad used to do a lot of mountain biking, and we started this program called NICA, which is for student-athletes,” she says.

Toler said it feels good to finish first in his racing division.

“This is my second racing season, last year I did 17 races and won 16,” she says. “So I’m just trying to keep it going this season. This race feels good, to start the season well.

Children can be seen in the beginner category competing for fun. (Photo by James Dobbs)

Toler’s time for the sport class was 1:41:59.7.

* First place in the pro/expert category was Ben Ortt with 1:44:57.1.

* In second place in the pro/expert category was Ryan Popple with 1:47:47.6.

* In third place in the pro/expert category was John Swarr with 1:49:59.9.

James Dobbs can be contacted at [email protected]

There was an impressive turnout of 186 runners at the Challenge at Mountwood Park. (Photo by James Dobbs)

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Wiley C. Thompson