HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Virginia endurance cyclist Abe Kaufman rode into downtown Hot Springs Wednesday evening to win the 1,000-mile-plus Arkansas High Country Race in record time.
Kaufman completed the challenging race, which took racers through some of Arkansas’s toughest mountain terrain, in 4 days,10 hours, 8 minutes. The previous record time, set in 2022 by Ernie Lechuga, who finished in 4 days, 14 hours, 13 minutes.
Kaufman said, “I underestimated the difficulty of the terrain in Arkansas and was struck by the wide variety in landscapes here. It was hard. It took something out of me that I might never get back.”
Race founder Chuck Campbell said, “Abe rode the heck out of this route. He knocked 4 hours off the record. I can’t believe how coherent he is. He looks like he could start the race again. “Hot Springs has been the perfect host city for the Arkansas High Country Race. The city (Hot Springs National Park) and the merchants have welcomed the racers with wonderful and generous hospitality.”
Information about the finishers is available at Follow My Challenge.
Traci Berry, the trails coordinator for Visit Hot Springs, said, “These folks, the crazy ultra-endurance bike packers that take challenges such as the Arkansas High Country Race on, continue to amaze me. They push themselves past their limits not only physically, but mentally as well. We witnessed a record-setting time last year and watched in awe as Abe Kaufman crushed the course with an even faster time this week. We have been honored to host these inspiring folks for the last two years here in Hot Springs and look forward to playing a supporting role until they find their way back to our beautiful town in the Ouachitas.”
The race started in downtown Hot Springs Saturday morning, with 24 riders registered for the Arkansas High Country 1,000-plus-mile full loop. Twenty-three had registered for the 487-mile south loop and 20 registered for the 185-mile Ouachita Triple Crown loop. Nineteen states and three countries were represented among the competitors.
The Arkansas High Country Route was developed by Arkansas’s own Chuck Campbell in partnership with Adventure Cycling. The full ARHC route covers over 1,000 miles of Arkansas terrain and is made up of pavement and gravel roads with singletrack options which include two IMBA Epic Trails, the Womble and LOViT (Lake Ouachita Vista Trail). It takes riders through the beautiful scenery of the Ouachita Mountains, Ozark Plateaus, and Arkansas River Valley. The full route can be broken down into three separate, shorter loops: the southern, central, and northern ARHC loops.