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Williams conquers Death Ride

Florence native takes on dangerous trek ... and wins

Staff writer

They tried to intimidate him, but it didn’t work.

As Stan Williams of Marion peered through a web site for the 2008 Flint Hills Death Ride in Greenwood County, he had to chuckle.

“They try to scare you out of coming,” Williams said.

Sure, it made it sound like almost no one could handle the 84-mile bike ride through rough and rocky hills, but the Marion resident not only made it, he finished first.

“I wasn’t really experienced with that kind of distance, but I like to win,” Williams said.

According to the web site, about two-thirds of the competitors finished in 2007, but Williams didn’t care. He had trained enough that he knew finishing wasn’t going to be a problem.

Starting at 7:30 a.m. July 26, Williams, who stopped twice for rest and water, made his way through the course that included a “road” that was nothing but rocks and boulders.

He finished at 1:28 p.m.

The race began on mud roads, and slowed Williams down.

“A four-wheel drive pickup probably couldn’t have made it,” he said.

Obviously, it didn’t matter too much to Williams.

Toward the end of the race Williams knew he had it in the bag. Some might have wanted to compete just to say they finished, but Williams wanted to say he finished first.

“With about five miles to go, I had a lot left on the guys I was racing, and I left them in the dust,” he said.

The ride

The race starts in “the middle of nowhere,” according to the web site, in a part of the Flint Hills near Madison.

There is more than 5,000 feet of vertical climbing, and organizers said they shred about 10 tires per year just on the support cars that follow riders during the race.

High water on the course once caused a competitor’s bike to “drown.”

Williams, who was the winner of a Marion County “Biggest Loser” weight contest earlier in the year, had been training before he decided to compete in the Death Ride.

Three or four months before the race, he began training specifically to compete.

During the past few weeks, he intensified his training by working longer, and on hotter days.

All of the training paid off when he crossed the finish line after nearly six hours and a gallon of water.

“I’ll probably do it again next year,” Williams said.

Last modified Aug. 20, 2008

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