Mark Junkermann has been putting on running, biking and multi-sport races in Central Virginia for years with RunRideRace. His Camp Hilbert series has always been popular with mountain bikers. His Run Like a Girl trails races in Pocahontas State Park have drawn over 1,000 participants in the past. More recently, his “Sorry Honey, I’ve Got to Work Late” series brought short-course mountain bike racing to Forest Hill Park.
Now Junkermann seems to have hit the jackpot with Monstercross, a combination mountain biking and cyclocross race on the fire roads of Pocahontas SP. When I spoke with him last week, Junkermann was more than pleasantly surprised at the response the first-year race has drawn. “I hoped to get 75-100 [participants]. It’s at 400 now. It’s the biggest bike event I’ve done.”
Junkermann said the 50-mile race, which takes place this Sunday at 9 a.m., has lured close to 20 entrants from Massachusetts and a bunch from New York and Pennsylvania. He wasn’t sure why the race has drawn this kind of buzz, but he speculated that it’s early placement on the schedule means it’s probably the first of the year for almost everyone — a signal that the spring race season is around the corner.
In addition to the sheer size of the race, it’s also drawing high-quality riders. Jeremiah Bishop, the Harrisonburg-based pro mountain biker, was scheduled to ride before finding out he was on the short list for the the U.S. Olympic Mountain Bike team. Tom Jeffrey, a Richmonder and former U.S. duathlon champion, will race. So will Ted Baker, a local who trains with Bishop, and Dereck Treadwell, the winner of the 2011 Ironcross — a race Junkermann called the “grandaddy” of all cyclocross races.
It should be a good time in the Chesterfield woods on Sunday, and there’s still time to register. The cost is $80. The course is the same for mountain bikes and cyclocross bikes but winners will be crowned in separate divisions.