Sara Slattery Shatters Course Record At ElliptiGO World Championships

Sara Slattery ascends Palomar Mountain at record speed. Photo: David Hebble

The track athlete took nearly seven minutes off the previous mark. 

The fourth annual ElliptiGO World Championships held in northern San Diego county this past Saturday was an event for firsts.

Sara Slattery, a 5,000- and 10,000-meter track athlete, obliterated the women’s course record on her first attempt up Palomar Mountain, finishing in 1 hour, 32 minutes and 40 seconds, nearly seven minutes faster than the previous course record set in 2011.

“That’s pretty damn fast,” said one spectating cyclist, curiously inquiring about the winning times following the event.

PHOTOS: 2013 ElliptiGO World Championships

Despite pre-race jitters and doubts regarding her “GO” shape, Slattery passed the earlier waves without breaking stride, paving the 11.69-mile San Diego County mountain climb for her record-setting performance. She was all smiles at the top, holding her now-6-month-old son, Stevie, and sharing the moment with husband Steve Slattery. “You don’t breathe as hard when you’re climbing, but your legs burn the whole way,” she explained.

Betsy Graney, the 2012 NCAA Division II Female Track & Field Athlete of the Year, finished second while running legend Mary Decker Slaney took third. They clocked 1:37:59 and 1:45:27, respectively.

On the men’s side, regulars and newbies alike cluttered the elite wave, with Rusty Snow of Santa Barbara riding to his second consecutive win, becoming the first multi-year winner of the four-year-old race. He crossed the line amid a sea of supporters in 1:11:53, nearly ten minutes ahead of second-place finisher Jeremy Tolman a sub-4 minute miler. Runner, triathlete and writer Matt Fitzgerald also conquered the climb, crossing in third behind Snow and Tolman in 1:23:58.

“It’s the only cross-training I enjoy,” said Snow, race director of the Santa Barbara International Marathon. Both Slattery and Snow have permanent names on the Founder’s Cup—a trophy that honors each year’s winners with a permanent nameplate and lives at the company’s Solana Beach, Calif., headquarters.

Idai Makaya, director of UK distribution for ElliptiGO, has ventured to the states for the past three years to compete in the annual showdown. “I found out about the GO through Dean Karnazes. He mentioned it in an interview, and I said, ‘Wait, back up. Can you explain that again?’ I immediately contacted Bryan [Pate, ElliptiGO co-founder]  to see what it was all about.”

“We do an event in France like this. It’s part of an older Mont Revard race—we have runners, bikers and now GOs out there competing,” explained Makaya, who finished the Palomar climb in less than 2 hours. “I don’t have hills where I live [in England], so I just come out here for fun every year.”

Former NFL player John Mistler was another first-attempt rider this year. “I’ve had multiple knee surgeries, and this [ElliptiGO] is the only thing I’ve done where my knee doesn’t swell. It’s like god to me—I did a century ride, and to make the list and get invited to compete here is amazing.”

This year, ElliptiGO co-founders Bryan Pate and Brent Teal also added a new element to the awards ceremony, presenting avid rider Bill Pinnell with the first annual Authentic and Inspiring Award, given to an individual who tackles first-time and crazy feats while riding. Among his 2013 feats was the Cycle to the Sun ride—he became the first ElliptiGO rider to summit the 36-mile, 10,023-foot climb to the top of Haleakala Volcano in Maui, Hawaii. Dubbed one of the most difficult bike climbs in the world, Pinnell’s accomplishment caused jaw-dropping reactions and GO hoots and hollers for his bravery to “stand up and ride” without boundaries.

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