Mark Grubis finishes the Dells Loop in the middle of the Thunderdown in the Underdown Mid Distance/Solo category.
Riders returned to the 12th WEMS Thunderdown in the Underdown Recreation Area on Saturday, August 19, to find it had earned the epic title of Hundred Down in the Underdown with three 33-mile laps.
Everyone knew the Underdown was tough, but they were wondering just how difficult race director Chris Schotz would make it, or would all that work on the excavator make it easy.
With the notorious Marji Gesick 100 a month away, racers were also wondering which race was the toughest. Would 12,000 feet of climbing, rough descents, and hike-a-bike climbs give Marji the crown, or would 9,000 feet of relentlessly punchy climbs make Underdown the tougher?
The Marji awards a buckle to any rider who finishes in under 12 hours, but the course is such a challenge that only 20 earned the prize in 2016. Three of those riders made their way to the Underdown this year to give their verdict. Matt Millin (10:43 @ Underdown; 11:04 @ Marji) said that as hard as the Underdown ride was, he felt more pounded at Marji, where he placed 7th the year before. Owner of the fastest Underdown lap, David Carew (10:57 @ Underdown; 11:21 @ Marji) still called the race director a cruel individual. Jason Gibson (11:10 @ Underdown; 11:52 @ Marji) had time to spare at Underdown compared to his finish at last year’s Marji where he was the last of the 20 who went home with a buckle.
It’s not a contest, but if it were the Marji Gesick would earn the title of the toughest of these two brutal events.