On April 4th 2015, over sixty racers took to the trails of Arizona for another edition of the Arizona Trail Race (AZT) 300/750 ultra endurance mountain bike race. 2015 marks the tenth year anniversary of the 300.  AZT race veterans and many talented rookies were treated to incredible riding conditions and for the second year in a row, a blood moon and lunar eclipse! Once again, this national and scenic trail corridor proves itself to be one of bikepack racing’s elite venues.
Arizona Trail Race
Someone more famous [than] me once said, “it’s time for a little risk.” With that I want to give a big shout out to those that pioneered the path for ditching the sleep system and giving it all you got. Thank Scott, Kurt, Aaron and Neil for the balls to try it first. Because of you and those like you nearly everyone I encountered in the top 10 had little or no plan of sleeping.” Aaron Boatman, Colorado
Prior to the start of the 300, 25 racers departed at 7am from the US/Mexican Border, beginning their 750 mile adventure to Utah. This year represents the largest field of participants lining up for the AZT 750. The action (and accidents) unfolded quickly with race veterans Jay Petervary and Aaron Denberg establishing a quick pace and strategically launching their bids at historic 750 runs. Unfortunately, a pair of crashes marred the 750 peloton’s start with TD veteran Montana Miller receiving the worst beating of the bunch. His loss of flesh and a deep puncture wound to his palm would lead to a painful grind thru the Canelos and him scratching in Patagonia.
Arizona Trail Race
An early crash ends Montana Miller’s 2015 race.
Despite a frustrating start, AZT veteran Mark Caminiti turned in his best time to Picket Post- 4:11:11. Mark continues to set the standard for consistent runs with 2015 representing four straight finishes in the 300. The trail claimed its first mechanical victim when AZT veteran Mark Caminiti became the lone 750 rider, still not through Parker Lake as the 300 racers rolled from the line. As the outside world watched the race take shape on Trackleaders.com, spectators were treated to an array of both new and familiar names at the front of the pack. As always, the call-ins facilitated by Joe Polk at MTBcast.com kept reports of mishaps and misadventures from the field.
Arizona Trail Race
Mark Caminiti finishing up the 300. (photo/John Shilling)
The Arizona Trail race is a schoolyard bully who you know is going to kick your ass at lunch. Despite knowing this, racers continue to line up, throw down their trays and take their lumps. Living up to every bit of its surly reputation, the first 200 miles of the 2015 race were hot with the course savagely beating up on all involved. Although conditions were not as sizzling as 2014, the AZT never fails to serve up its infamous desert heat. Heading into day three, riders began taking advantage of cooling temps and long spells of night riding which resulted in fantastic splits to Oracle and 300 finishing times. Racers and rides deserving special note:(*All times noted from Trackleaders.com Picket Post Split- not official race results.) Kurt Refsnider – 2:01:02. With his 49 hour and 2 minute finish, Kurt established the 3rd best time for the AZT 300 and continues to raise the bar of excellence on one of the most harsh bikepacking courses in the world. Amazing performances from Neil Stitzer (2:08:13), Darren Smith (2:08:21), Hunter Keating (2:10:51), Joey Ernst (2:11:17) and Aaron Boatman (2:11:27) round out the top men for 300 finishers. Leading the ladies, Arizona racer Kaitlyn Boyle (2:20:4) turned in a stellar rookie performance despite repeated mechanical and gear issues. Alexis Ault (3:6:25) and Alice Drobna (3:10:30), turned in equally solid rides to round out the top female spots in the 300. Alice continued on the 750 route finishing in 6th position, in 9 Days, 13 hours and 53 minutes. She set a new woman’s record on the route!!! Aaron Denberg- (2:13:17) and Jay Petervary (2:15:42) were the first two 750 racers to reach Picket Post, chased by an excited and eager pack. Moving north, the course’s personality is set to change from oppressive desert travel to cool temps, mountain conditions and threatening weather as riders approached the South Rim. While Aaron Denberg had to backtrack to Flagstaff, JP cruised on down the ditch and back up finishing and winning his 2nd Arizona Trail race in under 8 days. Bikepackers Magazine would like to honor and appreciate all the participants in this year’s Arizona Trail Race. A special word of thanks goes out to Topofusion creator Scott Morris for his vision and commitment in coordinating this inspirational race. Be sure to follow the remaining 2015 AZT action on Trackleaders.com. Also hear from spectators and racers alike on the race thread at Bikepacking.net and through continued call-ins at MTBcast.com.
Veteran AZT rider Scott Jones from Washington and 300 Rookie Todd Denham from Texas gear up for the final push out of Oracle on night three.
Bags destroyed in the Canelos? No worries…. New Mexico racer Rich Otten gets creative and reaches the finish outfitted with tupperware storage containers purchase on-route!
“Never in my life have I had to fight harder to complete something.” Sam Aspacher, 2015 AZT300 ghost rider and finisher pauses at Beehive Well.


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