Mother-son duo win Carson City Off-Road in last place |

Mother-son duo win Carson City Off-Road in last place

Anne Knowles |

There are winners who come in first, and then there are winners who finish last.

Kelly Kanter and her 17-year-old son Ian have the distinction of being the final two entrants to cross the finish line in the recent Carson City Off-Road Capital Backcountry Ride for amateurs. The pair rode the 50-mile course and clocked in at 8 hours 37 minutes, roughly twice as long as the first place finishers. Their finish line photo shows the pair, arms around each other and smiling, against the backdrop of an empty street.

“They had already gone on to do the awards,” said Kanter.

For Kanter, who could have won an award for obstacles overcome, taking part in the event was reward enough.

“I was diagnosed with lupus at 22,” said Kanter.

She was attending Beaver College, now Arcadia University, getting her master’s degree in physical therapy.

“I was so fatigued and in so much pain I considered dropping out of school but my professors encouraged me not to and I’m glad that I didn’t,” she said. “Once they suppress the immune system the pain subsides but it probably took a year and a half before things noticeably calmed down.”

Kanter married, moved to New Jersey where she worked and completed a doctorate program at Rutgers University, and had two children, Ian and Ethan two years later, despite the difficulties associated with lupus and pregnancy.

“I thought I had beaten lupus,” said Kanter. “Then we decided to move west.”

The change was stressful and Kanter found herself exhausted and soon in a lupus flareup. Tests showed she had lupus nephritis, which means the disease was damaging her kidneys.

“This flare was bad,” said Kanter. “It made the first flare up seem like a walk in the park.”

Then, in the course of her treatment, doctors found a nodule on her thyroid and the biopsy showed cancer. Her thyroid was removed and she underwent radioactive iodine treatment, which meant she couldn’t be near her children, both under the age of 5, for a week.

“We caught it early and treated it aggressively,” said Kanter.

For the next five years, she tapered off her lupus medications and has been free of symptoms for the last eight years.

Part of her regimen is exercise and she likes to mountain bike as does her son Ian, a member of the Carson Senators Cycling team who raced the 35-mile Epic Rides course in 2018.

“I’ve never raced before but it morphed into we could do it together,” said Kanter.

So mother and son signed up for the 2019 race in January at the registration event held at The Fox Brewpub.

“One of the guys convinced me the 50-mile course was more interesting,” she said. “I was like OK. At that point, we had never ridden 50.”

But, it seemed right.

“I joked it would be my 50 for 50,” said Kanter who turns 50 this year.

She and her son trained when they could once the weather allowed it, riding in the hills, usually 25 miles and 50 miles when they could manage it.

Then came the event.

“I had a tremendous amount of anxiety and self doubt going into the race,” said Kanter.

She was mostly concerned about the cut off at Spooner Lake. Entrants for both the 35-mile and 50-mile races have to hit the aid station there by 11:15 a.m. or are disqualified.

Ian encouraged his mother on the steep climb there and the pair made it with four minutes to spare.

“The climb from Spooner to Marlette was sheer torture. I walked the bike the last mile,” she said.

The steep road down was tough, too, and Ian, who had gone on ahead, blew out his tire, which took time to repair.

By that time, said Kanter, “whoever was behind us passed us.”

Except for the sweeper, an event staff person assigned to ensure no one is left behind on the trail.

“Caesar, the sweeper, at one point said ‘I’m really honored to be part of this mother son duo,’” said Kanter.

Kanter said Ian promised to stay with her for the duration, but once the race started she thought his competitive spirit would take over. He kept his word.

“It was something I wanted to do with Ian. He’ll be going off to school soon, and with kids you never know when hanging out with mom isn’t cool anymore,” she said.

Ian plans to race at his own pace next year and his mother is still deciding whether she’ll do it again. Kanter said she feels good but has lab work in September that will tell her whether she’s aggravated her lupus.

“I don’t think it has and I don’t think it will,” said Kanter, “but it sits in the back of your mind.”