After more than 500 miles of riding from the floodplains of Winnipeg, Manitoba, through the flatlands of eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota and on to the rolling territory of central Minnesota, Zach Herfindahl of Eagle River, Wisconsin, proved to be this year’s king of cross-country racing with his victory in the USXC International 500.
Riding on a Christian Bros. Racing Team Arctic Cat ZR 6000R XC, Herfindahl trailed early leader Re Wadena after a 200-mile first day that took the riders from Winnipeg to Thief River Falls, Minnesota, on a particularly frigid day that caused frostbite for many competitors. But on the second day, when the competitors raced three loops on an increasingly rough 60-plus mile course of ditches and rivers, 20-year-old Herfindahl had by far the fastest time of the day and led by more than 5 minutes going into the final day three.
Herfindahl stayed out of the site of his competitors on the final leg of the race while leading through the woods and over increasingly hilly terrain toward the finish line in Bemidji, Minnesota, where he crossed the finish line with a 5-minute, 10-second margin over second-place Ross Erdman, who was also on an Arctic Cat. Aaron Christensen finished third on a Polaris, 27 seconds behind Erdman.
After the race, when interviewed live on the host USXC Racing circuit’s Facebook page, about the only problem Herfindahl could cite for the whole race was some frostbite on a hand.
“This is probably the best season I’ve had in my life – I’ve just got to thank the guys [that work on the sled] for everything they do. They had that sled running awesome, there was not one issue all week, or all season,” Herfindahl said.
“The first day, breaking trail the whole time, we were kind of slow, I think I was two minutes back. Day two was rough and kind of more my style, and I put a pretty good lead on the whole field so that was fun. Today was just bringing it home smart and safe, and making sure that thing finished,” Herfindahl said.
According to a press release from the host USXC race circuit, the 42nd running of the Seven Clans I-500 started with 80 participants leaving the Red River Coop Speedway in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 10th. The drivers raced over 200 miles the first day ending at the Seven Clans Casino in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. The Pro leader after Day 1 was Re Wadena on an Arctic Cat. Day 2 was run in the ditches around the Thief River Falls area for a total of 195 miles. Pro rider Zach Herfindahl ran a phenomenal Day 2 making up over 6 minutes on the competition with a fast Arctic Cat. Day 3 saw the drivers racing 125 miles over rivers, woods and ditches to Bemidji, MN. Juniors and Vintage racers joined the race for Day 3 with over 100 machines leaving the starting line in Thief River Falls. Total miles for the event was 525 miles with the winner’s total time of 7:46:23. Congratulations to all the winners and participants, with everyone looking forward to this type of event next year.
Here’s a quick rundown of the positions and times:
PRO 600: (1) Zach Herfindahl, Cat, total running time: 7:46:23; (2) Ross Erdman, Cat, 7:51:31; (3) Aaron Christensen, Polaris, 7:52:00 (4) Re Wadena, Cat, 7:55:10 (5) Brian Dick, Cat, 7:56:18 (6) Ryan Trout, Cat, 7:59:53 (7) Gabe Bunke, Polaris, 8:04:48 (8) Taylor Bunke, Polaris, 8:05:43 (9) Dillan Dohm, Ski-Doo, 8:10:34 (10) Eric Christensen, 8:17:25, Polaris
SEMI-PRO 600: (1) Ryan Trout (2) Jim Sobeck (3) Dustin Dohrn
EXPERT 85: (1) David Brown (2) Blaise Potucek (2) Ryan Weidemann
MASTERS 40+: (1) Gabe Bunke (2) Eric Christensen (3) Jeff Dick
MASTERS 50+: (1) Eric Christensen (2) Jim Sobeck (3) Jon Arneson
SPORT 85: (1) David Brown (2) Blaise Potucek (2) Eli Nelson
SPORT 600 STOCK: (1) Derek Frie (2) Jacob Dahle (3) Jeff Hayford
VINTAGE: (1) Mike Mattison (2) Mike Bedard (3) Gary Tintes
VINTAGE 50+: (1) Mike Bedard (2) Pete Mattison (3) Gary Tintes
CLASSIC IFS 1980-1997: (1) Brian Brown (2) James Mattison (3) Kellin Geisler
CLASSIC IFS 50+: (1) Brian Brown (2) Steve Sherwood
PRO WOMEN: (1) Savannah Landrus (2) Jolene Bute (3) Jill Tangen
JUNIOR 12-17: (1) Andy Pake (2) Blaise Potucek (3) Keaton Black