Gauthier, Dendel win races in Copper Harbor

COPPER HARBOR – Jeff Squires of Copper Harbor, having already finished the 17-mile race first by nearly six minutes, went back on the local trails with some buddies.

Many athletes perform a “cool-down” routine, but this wasn’t it. They were on foot, cheering the rest of the racers in Sunday’s Copper Harbor Trails Festival cross-country race as they approached the finish line in Grant Township Park.

As women’s leader Kathy Abbott of Atlantic Mine passed the impromptu spirit squad, Squires banged on a bass drum with a plastic spoon. Another friend was playing a percussion instrument fashioned from broken bike parts, while another was blowing on a harmonica.

Abbott completed the course in 1 hour, 54 minutes and 40 seconds. Her nearest pursuer, Amanda Mann of Waupaca, Wisconsin, was 90 seconds behind.

The longer 27-mile races were both won by wide margins.

Tyler Gauthier of Ishpeming, who won the Great Deer Chase in Calumet two weeks ago and finished second in the Keweenaw Chain Drive in Hancock in June, won by more than nine minutes in 2:03:40.

“They always find a way to just make it unique here, really relax and make it about the trails, make it about the riders, make it about the people in the community and then they throw a race in there,” Gauthier said.

“It was a little bit ‘greasy’ from the Friday night storm, but just select spots, but other than that we call it ‘hero dirt.’ It was really spectacular, and the tires hooked up well.”

The trophy for the winner is a bike tire fashioned from birds-eye maple with copper wire spokes.

Cooper Dendel of Marquette was the women’s winner in 2:27:54. She won by a wide margin despite having a busy weekend including the enduro races Saturday and fun throughout the weekend.

“It’s just fun up here to get disconnected from everything and just hang out with friends. Doing things old-school, there’s no cell service, so you’ve got to bike around, find your friends and hang out. It’s great,” she said.

“It was awesome. The trails were in great shape considering all the rain we just got up here, but they were great.”

From the Marquette area, in the 17-mile men’s race, Mike Carpenter of Marquette was seventh in 1:04:04.2 and John Bennett of Negaunee was 18th in 1:47:28.0.

For the 17-mile women, Missy Whalen of Marquette was fourth in 2:01:05.0, Erica Cousineau of Marquette 10th in 2:12:51.0, Tina Peppil of Marquette 11th in 2:16:40.9 and Marion Johnson of Ishpeming 12th in 2:20:45.0.

In the 27-mile men’s race, Matthew Colligan of Marquette was fifth in 2:16:40.5, Collin Kytta of Negaunee ninth in 2:20:50.9, Joey Graci of Marquette 13th in 2:20:03.8 and Tyler Jenema of Marquette 16th in 2:24:39.2.