Ryan and I decided to do the marathon race to prepare for the Firecracker 50. It was a mass start at Ponca and I was in about 10th position at the hole-shot. I rode behind some beginners and as soon as the trail started to go up, it was chaos. But I managed to run my bike through the carnage and came out the other end behind a junior who's trying to break into the big boys' club by racing open. I stayed behind him despite his requests to let me pass. I wanted to encourage him to push. But once past I did my thing and came up on Larry and one other dude. I stayed with them for a couple laps and then stopped for a water change. Larry went on and I chased him for a lap. Then he stopped for a water change and I never saw him again. I picked off riders as I went and got caught up in the Cat. 2's race, so it was nice to not be by myself for part of the race. At 2:55, I stopped just before the end and chatted with a fellow racer to kill some minutes so that I would roll in after the three hour mark. YES I sand bagged it but I was ready to be done. Come to find out, I ended up 3rd overall, with Ryan taking 1st and a young guy getting 2nd. It was a great race. Hard. So much climbing but the down hills are sweeping and actually sustaining, so all of the work to get up is worth the rides down. Ponca is always a favorite venue and this year didn't disappoint. 26 miles, 4100 feet of climbing. Whew!