Keegan Swenson and Russell Finsterwald battled for four hours to finish within seconds of each other at the 110-km Fuego XL. While the racing was tactical, it was definitely not easy. Finsterwald described it as a “four-hour game of chess with your heart rate fully pinned.”
Exactly how hard was the first race in the 2023 Life Time Grand Prix series? Based on Swenson and Finsterwald’s power data, shared on Strava, it was incredibly hard.
The two averaged 27.3km/hr on singletrack and fire roads around Laguna Seca Speedway for four hours and four minutes. Swenson maxed out at 77 km/h. Those are crazy speeds for a mountain bike marathon, especially given the course included 2,600 metres of elevation gain and loss,
The power numbers are even more imposing. Finsterwald averaged 297 watts for four hours. That works out to a Normalized Power of 351 watts. Swenson was just under that, with an average of 295 watts. Christopher Blevins, in third, averaged an even 300 watts. That all started with a 575-watt blast off the line for the first two minutes for Swenson.
It wasn’t just a fast start, though. There was little rest during the entire four hours. Finsterwald posted 10 separate two-minute efforts that exceeded 460 watts and said his peak five-minute power (428 watts) was at the third hour of racing.
Fast, but not steep downhills added to the effort. For example, Swenson averaged 338 watts for 2:36 on the -3.8 per cent “Tank Slapper DH” segment on Strava. That’s with an average speed of 48.8 km/h.
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