Carson City Off-Road Notebook: Mazza’s change in sports pays off | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City Off-Road Notebook: Mazza’s change in sports pays off

Carson City's Mark Mazza finishes the Capital 50 Backcountry Ride on Saturday.

Mark Mazza was a runner in high school and college, and he traded in his running shoes for a bicycle three years ago.

It has turned out to be a pretty wise decision.

Mazza, who moved from Ely to Carson City two years ago for a job with the Bureau of Land Management, turned in a 16th-place effort in the Capital City 50-mile race Saturday at the third annual Carson City Off-Road.

Mazza completed the course in 4 hours, 20 minutes and 30 seconds. He was 14th a year ago in 5:09.33. He was the top Carson finisher in the event, finishing six spots ahead of Chris Beardsley, who was 20th in 4:23.46.

"I started off conservatively," Mazza said. "I worked my way up."

Mazza said he plans to race in Grand Junction and at Whiskey Run next season. They are both part of the Epic Rides series.

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"My goal is to get more into them," said Mazza, who has raced several times in California this year.

Mazza said he loves living in Carson City. One of the things that has impressed him is the amount of organized recreational activities in the area.

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Amateur racers in the Capital 50 gave the new course a big thumbs up.

"It was absolutely gorgeous," said Daniel Munoz, who finished second to Spencer Powlison. "There were plenty of views. It was a little sandy on the last (part) descent into town. I will be back."

"It was a great track, Powlison said. "It was one big loop and they (race organizers) did a good job of linking it all together. It was amazing. The only place I can think of (to compare with) is Whistler in British Columbia."

A few other riders were impressed with the combination of single and double-track areas not to mention the views. The addition of the Marlette Flume was a big hit.

"This was more of a backcountry/cross country course," Mazza said. "I liked them both (course last year and course this year) equally. Both had different challenges."

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The professional riders are back on center stage Sunday, as they take their crack at the new 50-mile course. The men start at 8:30 a.m. and the women start at 8:40 a.m.

Evelyn Dong comes into the event as the overall leader in the Epic Rides series. She was second to Katerina Nash at Grand Junction and eighth in Arizona.

She currently leads Amy Beisel by 6 minutes 40 seconds and Crystal Anthony by 7:35. Larissa Connors is fourth overall 11:41 behind and Sofia Gomez-Villafane is fifth 14:45 behind.

On the men's side, Howard Grotts, the defending Carson City champ, leads Russ Finsterwald, who was fourth in the 50-miler in 2016, by 5 minutes 15 seconds after the first two events of the four-event season. Geoff Kabush, who swept the 2016 50-miler and criterium, is in fourth place facing a 10-minute deficit.

The awards ceremony will be at 1 p.m. for the pro races.

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Also on tap Sunday is the annual Kids Race. Youngsters will follow the same course that the pros ran on Friday.

The event starts at 8:45 a.m. Participants can ride either one lap or the full four laps.

Registration is $10.