There was a huge amount of mutual respect between Rachel Drake and Becca Windell after an absorbing duel between them at the Black Canyon 100K.
It was Drake who just proved stronger after she kicked clear at the final river crossing, winning by five minutes from her fellow American.
And chatting afterwards on the live Mountain Outpost broadcast it was clear that they’d both pushed each other to new heights.
‘It’s the most fun part of racing’
Drake said: “We were hammering together for a long, long time. I was like, I don’t want to run this hard right now. But it was fun!”
Asked what the win meant to her, she added: “Well, around this time last year, I found out that I had a stress fracture. So it’s just been a long journey to get here.
“I feel like I spend a lot of time away from my son to train, and you always think, okay, let’s not have that all be for nothing. Let’s let our training shine through and make our families proud.”
Both agreed that working together was a highlight, with Drake explaining: “It’s the most fun part of racing. You’re in it together. It felt really collaborative. I was running a lot harder than I wanted to, but it didn’t feel antagonistic. It was just like, all right, we’re doing this. You’re forcing me to get the most out of myself, and I’m super grateful for that.”
Rematch at Western States
“Yeah – and then I fell in the river and at some point you attacked so hard!” said a smiling Wendell of what proved to be a key point in the race.
Recalling that moment – and her reaction – Drake explained: “I was like where did she go as we’d been together the whole time. My pacer came up behind me and I go, yeah girl [thinking it was Wendell]. But he goes, ‘it’s me’ and I was like, oh, where did Becca go? He said ‘she fell in the river, you better try to make a move right now’.
“I was thinking I don’t want to attack, I’m tired, but I had reccied that spot and I knew that mud was super slippery.”
She never looked back from that point as she was paced for the last section of the race by last year’s winner Keely Henninger.
All three women on the podium earned – and accepted – a Golden Ticket for Western States, meaning a rematch is on the cards over 100 miles rather than 100 kilometres in late June.