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Paton wins Chequamegon MTB Festival

Durango biker places first in festival’s signature race
Cole Paton of Durango, right, pulls away from his competition to win the Chequamegon MTB Festival's 40-mile race on Saturday.(Courtesy Life Time)

Over 2,600 cyclists from around the nation gathered in the towns of Hayward and Cable Wisconsin for the 38th annual Chequamegon MTB Festival, which featured $10,000 in prize winnings.

A rider from Durango, however, scored a first-place finish in the event’s signature distance – 40-miles of the famed Birkie Ski Trail, forest roads and winter snowmobile routes.

Cole Paton, 23, of Durango, took first on Saturday with a finish time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 26 seconds. The 2019 first-place winner, Alexey Vermeulen, 26, of Pinckney, Mich. took second, crossing the finish at 2:15:27. Corey Stelljes, 40, of Madison, Wis., placed third with a time of 2:15:49.

“This is my first time in the Midwest and Chequamegon is an awesome event,” Paton said about his win. “It was a tactical race and Alexey was riding really strong. Everyone here is super welcoming, and I think this is going to be a tradition. Next year I’m focusing on Life Time events; Life Time is doing a great job of promoting athletes and I want to support that.”

In the women’s 40-mile, Melisa Rollins, 25, of Salt Lake City, Utah crossed the finish first with a time of 2:36:39.

Upcoming events on Life Time’s off-road cycling calendar include The ‘Rad Dirt Fest in Trinidad, Colo. Oct. 2-3 and Big Sugar NWA Gravel in Bentonville, Ark., Oct 23. More information is available at my.lifetime.life/athletic-events.