A Grand National Cross Country season is similar to a heavyweight title fight. It’s long, it’s brutal, and in the end, win or lose, there are going to be some bruises.
A racer climbs into the ring, er, onto the course, in March with a spring in his step and fire in his eyes, bobbing and weaving and snapping out punches. When the bell sounds in the final round in November the fighter, er, racer, is staggering forward with a fat lip, arms like slinkies and the eyes of a zombie.
Both a boxing match and a GNCC season require strength, stamina, skill and the ability to take a hard blow, shake it off, and find a way to keep going – just a little better than the zombie in front of you.
Team ITP had what it took to go the distance, and at the final bell – GNCC Round 13 at the Loretta Lynn Dude Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee – lifted several championship belts, er, trophies, toward the spotlights.
Dave Simmons (Yam) scored an undisputed knockout with his ninth overall morning race victory and his 13th straight win in the Super Senior 45+ class. He’s the Muhammad Ali of amateur cross country ATV racing.
Glenn McConnell (Yam) was close on the scorecard entering the final round, then delivered a haymaker in the Masters 50+ division. The Ohio native won at Lorettas by eight and a half minutes to earn the judges decision by just three points.
Journeyman Matt Hanna, with Greg’s ATVs & Cycles in his corner, jabbed and jabbed throughout the season, and in the end was applauded for a strong third overall in the tough XC2 Pro Am class. He threw an uppercut in the final round for second place to secure his top-three position.
Winning the title in that XC2 Pro Am class for Team ITP was Patrick McGuire (Yam), who was far enough ahead in points that when his closest competitor could not answer the bell, all he needed to play was a little rope-a-dope defense and a take a safe fifth place to clinch.
Adam McGill (Hon) was knocked down numerous times throughout the 2012 bout, but like the fighter he is, always climbed back to his feet. He took some body blows but did plenty of counterpunching as well. At Lorettas, McGill was a contender throughout a bare-knuckle XC1 Pro match.
In the end he had to settle for fourth place, missing the podium by a mere hundredth of a second. Despite kissing the canvas so regularly this year, McGill was still an incredibly resilient fourth place in the final standings.
And with that, it’s time to throw in the towel on another Grand National Cross Country race season. See you in 2013!