Vic Armijo / City Dock, Annapolis, Maryland
June 24, 2011. 11:11pm EDT
Few would have predicted that Mark Pattinson (USA) would score second place in this 30th Race Across America. True, he’s taken second in his rookie RAAM back in 2007. But he also DNFed with “Shermer’s Neck” last year. And with the heavy hitters in this year’s field, some felt that his “Tortoise” approach to RAAM would be defeated by the faster, more aggressive “Hares.” Yet, he indeed did take the runner up spot behind winner Christoph Strasser, arriving in Annapolis this afternoon at 4:40pm EDT, to post a time of 9 days and 41 minutes, with an overall average of 13.8mph. His daughter Olivia greeted him at the finish line, saying, "Daddy's home!' "That right," he said as he hoisted her up, "Daddy's home."
Mark Pattinson had this assessment of his race, “It was as good a race as I can run. I’m not the fastest guy, but we ran the best race we had. We made a plan and we stuck to it.”
That plan was for Pattinson to keep a steady, sustainable pace that he knew he could maintain, “I set my target for nine days at my pace,” he said. He knew better than to challenge those who go out from the start with a blazing pace, “Well I don’t have that blazing pace to begin with. So that’s not really an option!” he said with a laugh. “I knew that it’s always the situation that a guy gets the lead and defends it and there’s nothing I can do about that. I’m not fast enough. and halfway through the race I could see from watching their times that they weren’t sleeping. They were trying to break each other and were just knocking each other out.”
Meanwhile Pattinson’s maintained his kinder gentler pace, “The longer it went the better I felt,” he said, “Every night I made sure I recovered more, I rode harder and faster in the day, slept longer in the evening, and waited and waited and in the last 600 miles I took off like it was just another race.” And it worked. He moved up from fifth to second in the final 24 hours of RAAM 2011. Throughout the race he had been consistently sleeping three hours a night. Allowing him enough reserve to drop it down to just an hour, further increasing his tactical advantage to his sleepy and fatigued rivals.
In my years on the RAAM media crew I’ve conducted dozens of post-race interviews. Few finishers have been as fresh and energetic as Pattinson was this afternoon. He was talkative and cheerful. Once he got a shower, shave and change he looked like a typical Annapolis tourist, about to go out for a nice dinner with some friends—good friends, such as the people who have helped him across the country these past nine days, And that’s exactly what he was going to do, “We’re in Annapolis, so I guess a nice sea food dinner is in order. We had great fun,” he said, “My crew is fantastic. You know everyone says that, but mine really is.”