Race Across America returns

Race Across America cyclists make their way through Iola this week.

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June 18, 2024 - 1:16 PM

Valentine Cuenot passes in front of a freshly cut wheat field Tuesday morning west of Piqua as he passes through the area for the Race Across America. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

One of the most grueling sporting events in the country is passing through Iola this week.

The first cyclists taking part in the Race Across America — a transcontinental jaunt from California to Maryland — roared through southeast Kansas Sunday morning, with a large cluster of competitors arriving by the hour.

With a few exceptions, they won’t stick around long.

Ditte Friis pedals in front of her support vehicle as she approaches Iola later in the morning. The cyclists are racing from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md.Photo by Richard Luken

The heartiest of the ultracyclists will ride more than 20 hours a day because of the race’s single-stage structure, which allows them to complete the race is less than 10 days.

That means the cyclists and their support teams decide where, when and how long to take breaks.

The 3,038.5-mile course from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md., makes the Race Across America even longer than the famed Tour de France, crossing 12 states, the Sierra, Rocky and Applachian mountain ranges and about every other topological environ.

As of Tuesday morning, the race leader, was crossing southern Ohio, roughly three-quarters of the way through the race.

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