A break or two can make a huge difference in the Great Race. This year it was the horses that hurt one team and gave another the advantage. When the dust settled at South Park in Wellington Saturday,the Anders Spinalators emerged with the win, beating out the Dore Enchies by more than a minute for the championship.
The Dore Enchies had won the title three consecutive years, but there was to be no fourth. The race has 13 events, starting and ending with running, and there are horses, motorcycles, bicycles and canoes in between.
The Spinalators won the race with a time of 43:30. The Enchies had set a course record a year ago at 42:03.
Race master Jack Potucek said the course has not been altered in the last four or five years, which
gives the course record more meaning. He thought the race went very well, and plans no significant changes for next year.
The Enchies had a lead early, but at the horse riding portion, their horse got spooked and that slowed them down. The Spinalators took advantage, and managed to get a lead it would not relinquish.
Spinalator captain John Anders, who rode in the bicycle portion, said the horse section was what made the difference.
Duane Spexarth was the rider for the Spinalators, and was riding his horse "Sparkles." He saw the rider for the Enchies having trouble, and got going with "Sparkles" quickly.
"We had a nice race. We rode hard and got ahead and then backed off a little at the end," Spexarth said.
"Sparkles" is a retired race horse, and the animal showed it still had some speed left in its legs. Spexarth bought the horse 11 years ago from Louisiana, and rides often. He said he has ridden 500 miles this year, though most of it was not as fast as he rode Saturday.
Last year the Enchies were behind and benefited when the team ahead of them had trouble with the canoe exchange in that portion of the race. This year there were no mishaps with the canoes at the exchange, though one did capsize.
To complete the course one canoe goes down the creek, and they have to then change crews for the second part of the canoe portion. That can be tricky, changing on a steep bank.
Jason Rausch was riding the canoes this year for the Spinalators, and they handled the exchange without a problem.
"We practiced that. The creek changes," he said.
During the race another team had its canoe capsize after making the exchange and fell from fourth to about seventh as a result.
Potucek was pleased with the race. This year it started an hour later to avoid the heat, and the weather was also milder.
Page 2 of 2 - "It was a good race," he said. "Twenty-two degrees cooler made a difference."
He plans to start the race at 6 p.m. again next year. There were 11 teams this year, which seems like a good number. All of the contestants are trucked to their starting points, so that can be difficult to get together in a fairly short amount of time.
Potucek said he had about 75 people working on the event, and Monday they were still getting tents put away.
The great race started in 1977 when Potucek had a restaurant near Wellington. They started the race then, and it went on for a few years before a fire destroyed the restaurant. A few years later they took some time off. The event was started as a way to celerate the fourth of July.
Over the past few years they have settled on the last weekend in July, and at one point it was connected to the Wheat Festival.
1. Anders Spinalators 43:30
2. The Dore Enchies 44:43
3. SSB Big Bucks 47:09
4. Sonsof Thunder 47:25
5. Yunkers Knucklebusters 49:36
6. Spencer Speedsters 51:22
7. Black Oak Striders 51:24
8. Axis of Awesome 52:21
9. Greeno Flameouts 55:06
10. Galaxie Business Equipment 56:19
11. Village Idiots 58:19
Course record - 2012 Comodore Enchies 42:03
Course record - 2010 Comodore Enchies 42:24
Course record - 2009 Yunkers Wheat Whackers 44:25