By Jesse Wood
The Blood Sweat and Gears ride just concluded another successful event this past weekend, and organizers are already planning next year’s 20th anniversary charity ride as they send out surveys to participants.
“There’s no rest for the weary,” BSG Ride Director Scott Nelson said.
Nelson said this year’s event was arguably the most successful ride in terms of execution and preliminary feedback from the riders. He noted that he’s already received more than 100 positive emails following the ride, which is the most he’s received following the event.
“I’ve been doing this for 17 years, and I think probably across the board, what I saw, how the volunteers executed at a high level at all the different functional areas we have, and we try as hard as we can to reach that high level of standard. Not sure we could beat this one or not. It was really that good. I am very pleased and impressed with the 300 plus volunteers working on Friday and Saturday.”
Two major reasons the event has been so successful is the dedication of the volunteers and the organization striving to make each ride a better experience for participants than the previous BSG event – even if the last ride was a booming success.
“Our philosophy is and always will be that it wasn’t our best,” Nelson said. “Complacency is our biggest enemy. Without wearing ourselves out, we’ve got to stay on top of it.”
While the top male finisher, Peter Jasnoch, in the 90-miler came in at 4:06:16.15 and female finisher, Sarah Matchett, in the 90-miler came in at 4:18:35.10, organizers stress that this event is a ride not a race.
In fact, Blood Sweat and Gears began as an American Red Cross fundraiser nearly two decades ago before becoming its own nonprofit charity event several years ago. In the six years since becoming an independent nonprofit, the Blood Sweat and Gears main event in Valle Crucis has raised over $600,000.
Each year, the BSG board of directors selects organizations to support with proceeds gathered from the annual event, which consists of a 90-mile and 50-mile road-cycling trek throughout the High Country, beginning and ending in Valle Crucis.
This year nearly $85,000 was raised in all.
As usual, donations were given to various organizations that help make the event happen such as all the volunteer fire, rescue and sheriff departments in the area and the Watauga High School football team. Monies were given to sponsor local police department personnel participating in the Police Unity Tour.
More than $20,000 was donated to these groups, and another $10,000 combined was donated to Habitat for Humanity to replace a stolen tool trailer ($3,000), Healing Hunger Farms, which raises cattle and donates meat to food pantries ($2,000), and Spirit Ride, a therapeutic equestrian center that helps children with special needs ($5,000).
Blood Sweat and Gears has two grants named after two individuals that have made a big impact on the community and the charity ride: Sonny Sweet and Jim Harmon, two of the founders of BSG.
This year, the Sonny Sweet Honorary Grant recipient was Western Youth Network for $20,000, and the Jim Harmon Honorary Grant recipient was Hunger & Health Coalition for $15,000. With the help of Modern Ford, the latter funded a new van so the Hunger & Health Coalition would have a safe and reliable vehicle to deliver basic need items to those in need.
Already announced but included in the $85,000 raised this year are a $15,000 donation to the Winter Warmer Project, which gives warm clothes and pays for utility bills for those in need during the winter months, and $8,000 to Watauga, Avery and Ashe schools to pay for student meal accounts that were in arrears.
Blood Sweat and Gears charity rides include the Beech Mountain Metric and the Fall Classic in Blowing Rock. Along with the flagship Blood Sweat and Gears ride in Valle Crucis, these three rides make up a hat trick.
The Beech Mountain Metric’s fourth annual event was held in May, while the Blowing Rock Fall Classic’s third annual event will be held in September. While not a BSG production, organizers and volunteers with BSG will be supporting the Watauga Lake Triathlon for a second straight year in August.
Sonny Sweet Honorary Grant Recipient:
- 2014: $17,500 to Western Youth Network (WYN)
- 2015: $18,000 to WYN
- 2016: $23,000 to WYN, Friends of Watauga County Public Library, Spirit Ride, The Children’s Council and Boy Scout Troop 109
- 2017: $20,000 to WYN
Jim Harmon Honorary Grant Recipient:
- 2014: $10,000 to Hunger & Health Coalition
- 2015: $10,000 to Hunger & Health Coalition
- 2016: $16,000 to Hunger & Health Coalition, Hunger Healing Farms & Camp Healing Waters
- 2017: $15,000 to Hunger & Health Coalition
For a look at the top 5 finishers in each category, look below. For complete race results, click here.
Male 90-Mile Top Finishers
- 1. Peter Jasnoch 4:06:16.15
- 2. Alan Starnes 4:06:21.60
- 3. Paul Capua 4:06:22.00
- 4. Carlos Zamarripa 4:06:22.70
- 5. Lang Reynolds 4:06:23.29
Male 50-Mile Top Finishers
- 1. Brian LaFranchi 2:36:56.03
- 2. Mansour Benkreira 2:37:39.82
- 3. Ryan Hale 2:37:50.59
- 4. Carl Behan III 2:37:53.49
- 5. Marcus Morgan 2:37:55.45
Female 90-Mile Top Finishers
- 1. Sarah Matchett 4:18:35.10
- 2. Jennifer Leiser 4:22:11.81
- 3. Sheila Orem 4:31:51.77
- 4. Christy Daniel 4:34:19.52
- 5. Kristie Summers 4:40:29.23
Female 50-Mile Top Finishers
- 1. Shelly Frank 2:42:37.55
- 2. Stacy Stranick 2:43:48.52
- 3. Heather Mills 2:54:43.50
- 4. Kathy Goody 2:55:27.76
- 5. Molly Dedmon 2:58:08.89