WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC – Professional bikers Robert and Philicia Marion of Mt. Airy, achieved their goal of winning both elite titles in last year’s US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship. This year, the husband-wife team will seek a repeat performance in Wrightsville Beach, March 27-29, 2020.
“To ride across the finish line together, both as champions, was incredible, especially knowing how hard we worked for that moment,” said Robert Marion.
“It was a perfect day when everything came together for us – a dream come true,” said Philicia Marion. “To have us win again would be amazing. We did it last year, so of course, we want to do it again this year.”
The 6th annual US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship, the nation’s largest fat bike beach race, is on a seaside course in front of the host hotel Blockade Runner Beach Resort. There are two events, a 1-hour intermediate race, a 2-hour elite race, each with multiple age groups plus a relay division in the elite race. Early registration has attracted over 75 bikers from ten states.
“We build a one-half mile loop course on the beach the morning of the event,” said Spencer, Race Director. “We utilize the natural surfaces of soft and hard sand below the sand dunes. The competition will be intense in all races, especially the 2-hour elite race.”
“The Fat Bike Beach Championship is a challenging event that changes throughout the race,” said Robert Marion. “In the early laps, navigating the sand and determining the best lines can be difficult. In the latter part of the race, fatigue becomes more of a factor.”
“Especially if the headwind is against you on the shoreline,” added Philicia Marion. “The wind can help you or hurt you tremendously. If you drop off from a group, you no longer have a draft, and it costs energy and time.”
“My words of wisdom would be for the racers to eat their Wheaties,” said Zoe Worsham, women’s elite champion in 2017 and runner-up in both 2018 and 2019. “They’re not going to be building sandcastles on the beach; they’ll be praying for the race to be over.”
“It’s just hard,” said Spencer in 2019. “The elite race requires conditioning beyond any other type of sport, plus the mental fortitude not to quit regardless of your suffering.”
“This year, we are hosting a sandcastle building contest before the race. The sandcastle event will be judged, with cash prizes awarded to first and second place,” said Spencer. “The sandcastles will be on the course as obstacles. The sandcastle contest starts at 10 AM and ends at 1:00 PM.”
Most athletes will check-in on Friday at Blockade Runner to inspect the race conditions, according to Spencer. Vendors and bicycle industry representatives will be beachside before and during the races. The awards ceremony follows the races on the Blockade Runner beachside lawn and gardens.
Sunday features an optional 8-mile social-paced bike ride departing Blockade Runner at 7:00 AM.
The presenting sponsor for the 2020 US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship is Alpha Mortgage. The designated charity is the Wrightsville Beach Foundation.
Shawn Spencer, Race Director
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