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Cameron Hoffman wins the 38th Annual LoToJa Classic

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Riders arrive in Afton, Wyo., after riding 125 miles of the 200 mile-plus LoToJa Classic on Sept. 13, 2020, in Wyoming.

Glenn Seninger

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — It’s been said there is a first time for everything and for the first LoToJa Classic held under COVID-19 restrictions the race was filled with firsts. 

 For many, there were doubts that this year’s race would even happen. But thanks to careful and thoughtful planning by race organizers, and volunteers and sponsors to keep riders safe, by all accounts, the race was a success.

As race times were posted, the men’s race category was too close to call. Five riders, Cameron Hoffman, Spencer Johnson, Nathan Spratt, Roger Arnell and Marc Spratt came to the line in a thrilling sprint finish.  

But in the end, Cameron Hoffman of Clearfield won this year’s race with an overall time of 9:02:48.2 averaging over 22.36 mph on the course. Hoffman’s win was one of the closest margins of victory in recent memory at the LoToJa Classic. First place in the race category for the women went to Amy Heaton with an overall time of 10:02:17. Heaton won in convincing fashion with a five minute lead ahead of the next closest rider. 

The goal by race officials to maintain the integrity of the race while making the necessary modifications to keep cyclists safe was accomplished. Given the new precautions due to the global pandemic, race organizers put more time between starting groups, with the first group of cyclists departing Logan at 4:50 am.  

For Cannon Clark and Chase Hagl of Twin Falls, ID, this was their first experience in riding the entire 200-plus mile race. Clark who is currently attending the University of North Carolina made the trip all the way to Logan for this year’s race.

“I signed up for LoToJa months ago, and even though it was the toughest day of riding I’ve ever experienced, I’m so glad they were able to hold the race today. I didn’t want to miss out on this experience because of COVID-19,” Clark says. “But for me, race day is a celebration of months and months of training. You put your heart and soul into the race, but it’s the hours and hours of work you put into a dedicated training plan before the race that determines the outcome. LoToJa is definitely a beast of a ride.” 

Like many endurance races across the country, cyclists must embrace a rigorous training process in order to see success on the day of the race. 

Hagl says, “What more could I ask for in my first LoToJa? It was an absolute sufferfest. But it’s like anything in life that’s worth doing. If you plan and prepare for the day of your big event, you know you have done all you can to see success. You can’t control the outcome—things like the weather, road conditions, mechanical bike issues, and even your health are beyond your control. But what you can control is the training and preparation you have invested in leading up to race day.”

Another first-time rider, Corban Cocanour of Reno, NV, came to LoToJa with his 73 year-old grandfather, Rob.  Rob, a veteran cyclist, was riding in his 13th LoToJa. In his first LoToJa, Corban had to deal with his own set of challenges out on the course. 

“I prepared and trained for this race all season, and I felt good. But unfortunately, during at the start of the ride, my stomach wasn’t so good, and that really impacted my day. I also stopped during the race to help another rider with a broken chain, so I lost a lot of time,” Corban said. “But I learned a lot and I will definitely be back next year.”

With the onset of fall temperatures, weather conditions at the start of the race and during the day were ideal. Riders enjoyed a sunny day with the usual winds across the Star Valley in Wyoming. Given the new start times, riders were separated out across the race course avoiding the creation of large riding groups. Some riders ended up riding alone or even not finishing.  

In the relay race, the top two-person relay team was Bill’s Bike and Run relay team from Idaho Falls, with a time of 9:24:26, The winner of the three-to-five-person relay went to Team TAK from Sandy, with a time of 10:41.59.

Also participating in his first LoToJa in a three-person relay was Thomas Justice of Salt Lake City, who is currently a student at the University of Utah. 

“This was my first LoToJa and because of COVID, my schedule completely changed. I spent most of the spring and summer riding with my dad who is a LoToJa veteran,” Justice said. “He gave me some advice on how to prepare, ideas on nutrition, and we even rode some of the routes of the race beforehand to get a better feel for what we were in for. I’m so glad that they didn’t cancel the race this year. I got a much better appreciation for how difficult the race truly is. But, I’m excited to come back and see how I can improve for next time.”

The 38th annual LoToJa Classic, was the first in the COVID era and will always be remembered as the race that almost didn’t happen. But for the first timers and veterans that experienced it, the annual LoToJa Classic will live on.  

Official race results can be found at: https://www.sportstats.us/search-results.xhtml 

Glenn Seninger lives in Salt Lake City and is a twelve-time LoToJa finisher.