Last weekend professional ultra-endurance cyclist and Victor resident Jay Petervary hosted the Fat Pursuit, his annual fat bike race and event in Island Park, and once again the conditions required an extra level of preparation, determination, and resilience.
Petervary has offered different distances and different iterations since the event’s inception in 2013, but this year he opted to combine all distances (60K, 200K, and 200-mile) into one weekend and decided for the first time to offer snowshoeing and skiing categories in the 60K race.
The 200-mile bikers, as well as three walkers aiming to beta test a longer distance race, departed under sunny skies on Jan. 10, but with nightfall came the storm. By the time the other two race groups had started on Jan. 11, Island Park was already seeing significant snowfall, and accumulation would eventually total multiple feet. Petervary and his team of volunteers worked tirelessly to groom as much of the course as possible, but deep snow stymied many of the participants.
Only one rider finished the longest race. Thomas Miller of Alberta, Canada, spent two days and 17 hours on the trail before taking the prestigious 200-mile win. All three walkers were able to finish in This wasn’t the first time that the Fat Pursuit claimed most of the podium spots; In 2017 Aaron Gardner of Victor was the only racer to finish the 200-mile event.
Driggs business owner Robin Lyons claimed third place in the 60K. Several locals persevered and completed the 200K. Gary and Jamye (who took the women's bike win in that distance) Chrisman, along with former Victor resident Zac Southwind, crossed the finish line after one day and 17 hours of traveling along semi-groomed trails near the Continental Divide. Other valley residents made the call to leave the race because of the incredibly challenging conditions.
As they recovered from their heroic effort, many athletes found themselves stranded in Island Park; Highway 20 from Ashton and Highway 32 and 33 from Tetonia were buried in snow drifts.