2015 Dirty Kanza 200 images: first look

In Blog by Eric Benjamin21 Comments

This Dirty Kanza 200 was the best ever. As a rider and photographer, I have never experienced the emotion, grit, determination and scenic quality to this level. It was a dream shoot for me. I look through the Dirty Kanza 200 images I captured and I’m in awe.

Every one that towed the starting line was a courageous dreamer, every finisher a champion. I was surprised at the winners, but I knew this was going to be a different race than we’ve seen at the Dirty Kanza in some time. It wouldn’t be a smooth 20 mph fast race for the winners this year. This was a true taste of what Kansas is like. The riders that finished had to pedal, carry and find the determination to finish the hardest 200 miles the Flint Hills has to offer. The weather dealt out rain, cold temperatures, mud and wind. Some riders excelled in the conditions and others’ spirits and bikes were completely broken. All reached their breaking point and some pedaled right through it.

The female champion, Amanda Nauman, a California cyclocross champ, seemed to glide through the course like butter. She talked, smiled and even cracked a joke when I shot her around mile 120, climbing a rocky hill made slippery and unrideable to many by the rain and mud. She climbed it with ease and wasn’t breathing any harder than I was when she passed by.

The male champion had a different kind of day. Every time he passed by my lens he seemed like he was digging deeper than he ever had before. Unlike Amanda he was not smiling or joking on that hill. At that point he was somewhere around 17 miles behind the leader. When I heard he caught the leader at the ESU campus, I was surprised. I know him and saw his struggle and it was impossible to keep the tears inside when I saw him win the most grueling race I’ve ever witnessed.

The finishers were so inspiring to me, I know next year I will not be able to shoot. I have to finish the DK200 again or else I have let the circumstances I was dealt beat me. We are not our circumstances or our past mistakes. These riders proved that last weekend. Even if we don’t know them personally, we now know them all as champions.

Here’s just a few Dirty Kanza 200 images from the weekend:

(Scroll to the bottom to view in a pretty gallery) (Click HERE to see the entire image gallery)

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Ambulances would prove necessary

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Lining up at 5:00 am

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The King and Queen of Kanza no matter who wins

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Sean Mailen of Salsa looking fresh

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Amanda Nauman, an unknown to many would soon prove her toughness

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The morning callouts

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Emporia’s favorite, Jeff Young!

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Yuri twenty-some miles in

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Only 24 or so miles in and many were already in the pain cave

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Some pedaled through, others couldn’t

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Tandems on the course (Steve Wasmund and Amy Andrews)

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War-like conditions

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Amanda Nauman, the woman’s champion

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Jeff was just 15 minutes or so off the lead man early on

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Sean Mailen of Salsa eying the conditions with 180ish miles left

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High Gear of Emporia

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Some loved the conditions

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Some had other choice words for the DK200 promoters

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Rebecca Rusch always smiling

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The Pertervarys off the tandem and runnin

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Joel Williams, Emporia Native and High Gear teammate, cleans his bike

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Wide open Flint Hills

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That’s one way to get through the water crossing!

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A good day for Chamois Butter

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Coca-cola refreshment

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The checkpoints were busy with cleaning and fixing

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Joe Meiser, always smiling. Well time would tell on that one.

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Aaron of Big Poppi’s Bike Shop in Manhattan wrenching away

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The DK200 is definitely an adventure!

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This hill was named The Bitch

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Yuri Hauswald grinding up “The Bitch”

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Dan Hughes, the King of Kanza, was having more fun than I’ve seen him have at the DK200

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Joe was done smiling for me

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Sean Mailen of Salsa Cycles looked strong all day long

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Yuri Hauswald some 17 miles back from the leader with determination like I’ve never seen

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Yuri was giving this race all he had

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Yuri pedals away from the 120 mile point looking to do the impossible and catch the leader

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Amanda Nauman pedals by with a smile and even makes a joke. She seemed to be enjoying her day and pedaling strong

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The Petervary’s struggled all day and kept pedaling

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Curt Shelman of Chamois Butter

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The Petervary’s

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The reaction of the DK Promotions team as Yuri Hauswald sprints to win the 2015 DK200 by the skin of his teeth

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He left all he had out there in the Flint Hills

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An emotional win

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Gravel World’s Champion, Dan Hughes

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Sean Mailen, glad to be across the finish line

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The inspirational O’mara brothers, Shawn and Scott

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Crystal Wintle of District Bicycles in Stillwater, OK is greeted by her daughter at the finish

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The one and only Jim Cummins