Home Mount Ida Sports Record setting day at the Ouachita Challenge

Record setting day at the Ouachita Challenge

2106
0
SHARE
And the winners of the 2016 Ouachita Challenge are: Brandon Melott, shown center, who turned in a course record 4:31.50 time to beat the previous record by 3 minutes. Shown with Melott are (left) Mathew Ankney 5th place (4:49.08), 2nd place winner Micah Gordon (4:40.22), Todd Gearhart , 3rd place (4:41.20), and Ray Hall, 4th place (4:47.33). Not shown is Erik Leamon who won the single-speed division with a time of 5:05.5. Photo by Derwood Brett
And the winners of the 2016 Ouachita Challenge are: Brandon Melott, shown center, who turned in a course record 4:31.50 time to beat the previous record by 3 minutes. Shown with Melott are (left) Mathew Ankney 5th place (4:49.08),  2nd place winner Micah Gordon (4:40.22), Todd Gearhart , 3rd place (4:41.20), and Ray Hall, 4th place (4:47.33). Not shown is Erik Leamon who won the single-speed division with a time of 5:05.5. Photo by Derwood Brett
And the winners of the 2016 Ouachita Challenge are: Brandon Melott, shown center, who turned in a course record 4:31.50 time to beat the previous record by 3 minutes. Shown with Melott are (left) Mathew Ankney 5th place (4:49.08), 2nd place winner Micah Gordon (4:40.22), Todd Gearhart , 3rd place (4:41.20), and Ray Hall, 4th place (4:47.33). Not shown is Erik Leamon who won the single-speed division with a time of 5:05.5.
Photo by Derwood Brett

DERWOOD BRETT
The 2016 Ouachita Challenge, which took place on Sunday, April 4,  saw a full complement of regular riders, as well as first-timers, compete in the 60 mile closed-loop race that starts and ends at Oden School.
Brandon Melott, War Acres, OK, a veteran of a half dozen Ouachita Challenge Bicycle Races, pedaled his way through the 60 mile course in an event breaking time of 4:31.50 to beat the previous record set in 2014 by Travis Donn, Kansas City, MO, by over 3 minutes.
Second place this year was won by Micah Gordon with a total time of 4:40.22, 3rd by Todd Gearhart at 4:41.20, 4th by Ray Hall at 4:47.33 and 5th by Mathew Ankney at 4:49.08.
There were 258 total entries for the Challenge this year, with 29 women participants and 229 men, while Saturday’s Tour fielded a total of 278 registrants. The maximum number of registrants was received in less than one day, according to Jennifer Hopkins, a volunteer with the sponsoring organization.
The number of states represented spans the country again this year, according to organizers. These people come and experience the competition and beauty of the Ouachita Mountains, then go home and tell their friends about the professionalism of the race’s organization.

Racers in Sunday’s 2016 Ouachita Challenge were still bunched as they reached the Brushy Creek crossing  and prepared to leave the road and take on the Ouachita Trail west of Oden. The 60 mile race is in the books, but for the 250 racers, the memories will live on as they make plans for the 16th Ouachita Challenge next April. Photo by Derwood Brett
Racers in Sunday’s 2016 Ouachita Challenge were still bunched as they reached the Brushy Creek crossing and prepared to leave the road and take on the Ouachita Trail west of Oden. The 60 mile race is in the books, but for the 250 racers, the memories will live on as they make plans for the 16th Ouachita Challenge next April.
Photo by Derwood Brett

The two days of events are operated totally with volunteers from local clubs and groups. It takes approximately 100 volunteers to fill all the slots involved, according to Robert Cavanaugh, a volunteer organizer who has been involved for many years. Cavanaugh recruits the volunteers and assigns workers to checkpoints and aid stations throughout the race. Many volunteers work both the Tour and the Challenge.
Course marshals are located at every major turn along the race, and directional signs are prominently displayed to try and assure no rider gets off course. A sweep ride is made through each section of the race course to make sure every rider is safely signed out at one of the aid stations or at the finish line.
The Ouachita Challenge is part of a two day series of races hosted by the Ouachita Mountain Challenge Association, a small group of local people who represent several non-profit agencies that benefit from the revenue that the Challenge produces.
Saturday’s Ouachita Tour also fields approximately 250 participants and rides much the same course, with only a few reroutes. It is also closed-loop 60 mile ride beginning and ending at Oden School.
Each year, the Tour and Challenge help kick off the tourism season in the area and are growing in popularity with local businesses, who welcome riders, their families and crew members to the area.
While many of the participants stay in local motels, a number of them pitch tents or park recreational vehicles on various lots around the Oden School. Others sleep in the gymnasium and take advantage of the restroom and shower facilities. Those who use the gymnasium are asked to make donations to cover the water and electricity costs to the district.

Some terrain along the Ouachita Challenge course is particularly challenging, or particularly exciting, according to riders. Shown here is an unidentified rider airborne as he comes off a sharp drop-off near Big Brushy Recreation Area.  The next challenge facing riders, at this point, is Blowout Mountain. Riding 60 miles over scenic, but rough, terrain has made the Ouachita Challenge a much sought after race. Photo by Derwood Brett
Some terrain along the Ouachita Challenge course is particularly challenging, or particularly exciting, according to riders. Shown here is an unidentified rider airborne as he comes off a sharp drop-off near Big Brushy Recreation Area. The next challenge facing riders, at this point, is Blowout Mountain. Riding 60 miles over scenic, but rough, terrain has made the Ouachita Challenge a much sought after race.
Photo by Derwood Brett

Other riders and families camp in local recreation areas or on Ouachita National Forest land.
The Saturday Tour and the Sunday Challenge offer something for almost everyone, according to race organizers. For cyclists, it is an early race in the season that allows them to hone their skills. For crews and families who travel with the riders, it is an opportunity to visit the area and experience the beauty and friendliness of Montgomery County.