Last Dog Standing 2016 Race Report

Dirt Rider’s Michael Allen Tackles the Extreme Enduro at Glen Helen

I’ve always enjoyed challenging, technical races, so every year when the Prairie Dogs host their annual Last Dog Standing extreme enduro, I seem to forget how much suffering I had been through the year before, and get excited to suffer yet again. Having won the expert class in 2012, 2013, and 2014, I went to the event with some confidence due to the fact that I was riding the very off-road capable Yamaha YZ250X, but knowing that there is always stiff competition.

Michael Allen, Last Dog Standing 2016
Michael Allen makes his way to level one of the tractor tires.Photo by Cody Marion

The format for novice-expert racers is as follows; LDS one starts at 9:00am and is a grand prix format with only a couple semi-challenging obstacles. Your finishing position in LDS one determines where you’ll start in LDS two. LDS two starts with two riders every minute and is one lap around the full extreme course, in which you must finish within 45 minutes on corrected time of the leader to qualify for LDS three. The final round (LDS three) is two laps of the full extreme course with added obstacles.

Michael Allen, Last Dog Standing 2016
Glen Helen's matrix can be very trickyPhoto by Cody Marion

For LDS one, we lined up behind the motocross starting gate, there was a short straight that led into a left hand corner. I lined up just to the left of the Dog House and was able to get the hole shot just before getting passed by another racer going down the first long straight. I was able to regain the overall lead and pull away from the field until the second lap when lappers became an issue. The two somewhat hard obstacles became huge bottlenecks with 30 plus riders waiting in line. I was as nice as I could be as I cut in line and made my own way around other riders every lap. At the end of the 45 min GP style race I took the win, which made me the first expert to take on LDS two.

Teamwork, Last Dog Standing 2016
Teamwork!Photo by Mark Kariya

After a short rest and filling up my hydration pack, I headed to the line, ready to take on the 100 degree heat. I always have been told, and live by the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and the saying popped into my head when I lined up next to Garett Carlson as I noticed his less-than-pristine YZ250, coupled with worn out gear, and some light brown, leather gardening gloves. As I always do, I struck up some conversation and shook his hand, wishing him luck before the green flag flew. I took the initial lead before getting my front fender stuck in a tire while riding across the famous Glen Helen wet Tire Bridge. All I smelled was wet cow hide as Carlson made the pass, that was the last a saw of the miss-matched gardener. LDS two was filled with all sorts of obstacles, the hardest of which was the triple stacked tractor tires, which is where, for the second year in a row; I teamed up with Mitch Carvolth to conquer the ridiculous obstacle. To be honest, the tires took a lot of energy out of me and I went into survival mode as I entered the LDS canyon, which consists of multiple near vertical drop offs. While coming down the first big drop I was having a casual conversation with Paul Krause who was watching, and dispensing advice, then as he was telling me that I was a wimp, my knee popped out. This had become a semi frequent occurrence (the knee, and the name calling) but I was able to straighten my leg back out and pop it back into place. At this point I was very hot, and went into what I call, “super survival, semi quitter mode,” I wanted to call it a day but knew that if the name caller found out, I’d never hear the end of it. So I decided to suck it up, soil my gear with a yellow liquid, and finish the loop. The rest of the loop was not very challenging, the toughest part was dealing with the heat. I ended up finishing LDS two as one of only 15 finishers within the time limit, and second expert.

Michael Allen, Last Dog Standing 2016
Michael Allen leaves the slippery, tire filled bridge.Photo by Brandon Krause

After LDS two, I went back to my truck and debated if I even wanted to line up for the final round. My fiancé told me that she wasn’t going to marry a quitter, so I once again filled my hydration pack and headed to the start. Since I was in, “super survival, semi quitter mode,” I was riding with a lack of enthusiasm, and technique, until I arrived at what would be an hour long hill climb. Once the pros had made it up, the hill was destroyed and turned into flour-like silt. After four tries, some fellow racers and I decided to use a rope and help each other get our bikes to the top. In the middle of pushing and pulling, Cody Webb came around for lap two; the hill was so bad that we ended up helping pull his bike up as well. After getting all of our bikes up, Mike Aranda, Kevin Murphy, and myself vowed to all ride together and assist each other on the rest of the obstacles. We made our way up some hills and through some cement pipes before arriving at the stacked tires once again. We knew that we weren’t going to be able to finish the course, but decided to give the fans a show as they watched us crash and lift our way to the top of the tires. Once at the top of the tires we all rode to the finish and surrendered together. I ended up finishing 2nd in the expert class behind Garett Carlson who was able to finish one complete lap of LDS three. Extreme enduros can teach you a lot about yourself and show you where you need to improve, and after this year’s Last Dog Standing, apparently I need to head to Lowes, and checkout the gardening isle if I have any hope of regaining my dignity.

Michael Allen, Last Dog Standing 2016
A sweat filled second placePhoto by Jean Turner