24-Heroes for the Kids

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121001-aspen.garaj in finish

Aspen, CO, Dec. 10, 2001, 1:00 PM--The race has ended. Team Germany maintained their first run lead for the entire race, marking the first time a team has led the 24 Hours of Aspen from start to finish. Team New Zealand, who had to drop out of the race due to injury and delirium, recorded the fastest speed ever in this event, clocking in at ninety-nine miles per hour. The Canadian women won a hard fought battle against the American women. Peter Garaj of Slovakia, bloodied and hunched, withstood the uncertainty of multiple partners and finished the race solo in front of a roaring crowd. Andi Bither, half of the American women's team, was engaged to her longtime boyfriend and head technician, MC, as she stepped into her bindings for the final run. And Aspen local Gunner Sachs, proprietor of Elevation, will take home a brand new Audi A4 Quattro. As colossal as all of these achievements are, the real winners are the kids.

Without exception, the event is dedicated to raising money for charity. This year, $210,000 was raised to benefit three local organizations. Challenge Aspen, which provides recreational opportunities for disabled children and adults; Aspen Valley Ski/Snowboard School, which provides nearly 1,500 local kids with skiing and boarding programs; and Jazz Aspen Snowmass, an in-school music initiative that gives students exposure to jazz from professional musicians who spend one-week residencies in the valley. In addition, a portion of the proceeds will benefit America's Fund For Afghan Children.

Thankfully, the event was a success. None of the injuries suffered by the athletes were debilitating or fatal. Charities benefited, crowds were pleased. And now I can rest.

Audi 24 Hours of Aspen

Men
1 Germany: 76 laps in 2:54:28
2 Switzerland: 76 laps in 2:56:10
3 US Men: 76 laps in 3:00:07
4 Australia: 75 laps in 2:59:26
DNF Austria
DNF New Zealand
DNF Slovakia

Women
1 Canada: 75 laps in 3:07:13
2 US Women: 75 laps in 3:07:32