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Team Brigham Health Passes the Halfway Mark in the Race Across America

Margaret battles record breaking temperatures as she rides through the Arizona desert.

Since their journey began on Saturday, June 17th, Team Brigham Health has cycled over 2,090 miles and raced through 6 states - California, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Utah, and Missouri. The foursome, competing to set the record in the 60+ female team category, are currently maintaining an average moving speed of 19.6 mph despite 115 degree heat, golf ball sized hail and the lingering threat of tornadoes.

Starting the race in California amidst record breaking temperatures, Neil rode down the perilous decent of the infamous Glass Elevator- an 11 mile long ride with an elevation of 4,206 feet. Despite the downhill slope, this portion of the ride was no easy feat. “The 115 degree heat hit me like a ton of bricks,” said Neil. It was this same heat that recently grounded planes in Arizona, which happened to be the next state the team would cross.

While crossing state lines into Arizona provided no relief from the high temperatures, the team had the fortune of witnessing the beautiful desert landscape.

Imagine traveling 20 miles an hour across the U.S. Think what you can see! You get an appreciation for the vastness of our country and the diversity of the landscape and lifestyles.

Racing into into Utah, Beth Wald, the team’s PR Director, recounts a memorable leg of the journey.  "Sunrise in Monument Valley was otherworldly. Trish had a descent into the valley that took your breath away.  She started on a plateau and then dipped down into another valley of colored rocks. When Trish and Susan arrived at the hotel in Mexican Hat they were euphoric.  Imagine traveling 20 miles an hour across the U.S. Think what you can see!  You get an appreciation for the vastness of our country and the diversity of the landscape and lifestyles."

Storm clouds descend in Kansas, bringing with them the threat of tornadoes.

After departing Utah, tailwinds in the Southeastern region of Colorado helped push Neil and Margaret to speeds of 34 mph, but the tailwinds quickly turned to headwinds once the team crossed into Kansas. Although the road may be flat in Kansas, it certainly wasn’t a leisurely ride. A quickly darkening sky, roaring thunder, lightning and heavy winds made the landscape reminiscent of a scene out of The Wizard of Oz. The team was definitely in Kansas. Beth recalled their aggressive encounter with Mother Nature.  

The clouds rolled in, the sky got dark, lightning appeared and the winds began to roar. No tornado ever appeared, but the rain came down in buckets and hail the size of golf balls started to fall.  Neil and Margaret were on the road hunkered down in the racer vehicle until the storm passed.

After the storm passes, Team Brigham Health rides through Kansas to the end of the rainbow and beyond.

Persevering through the storm, Trish, Susan and their resilient crew hit the road and arrived at the next rest stop 13 hours later having witnessed a wide range of weather -  rain, wind, hail and even a few rainbows. "Kansas is quite something. As you drive down the road, the smell of manure saturates your nose. The towns are small. Silos everywhere. People are incredibly friendly." 

As the riders pass through Missouri and continue on into Illinois, Team Brigham Health's tireless crew - made up of veteran and first-time RAAMers - is making sure these extraordinary women can continue to push as hard as possible. "We've become a well oiled machine. Everyone has a job and knows what they need to do." 

Crew member, Phil Bellini, gets ready to push Trish off as Susan approaches a sunrise rider exchange in Missouri.

With six more states to go, Team Brigham Health is working harder than ever as each pedal stroke leads them closer to the finish line in Annapolis, MD and closer to making history as the first 60+ female team to finish the Race Across America.

Follow the racers as they head into Illinois and across the midwest and support their cause as they continue their amazing journey.

Also, check out our gallery of images from the road below (covering the 2,000+ mile trek from California to Missouri) as well as a post-race interview with Trish and Susan after a 260 mile leg through Kansas.

-Emily Breed and Beth Wald

Trish and Susan recap their 260 mile journey through Kansas