It all started in 1982...
Race Across America (RAAM) is one of the most respected and longest running ultra-endurance events in the world. RAAM is seen as a pinnacle of athletic achievement not only in cycling circles but the greater sporting community as well.
In 1982, four individuals raced from the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles to the Empire State Building in New York City. Covered by national television, the race captivated the public’s imagination. Relay Teams were introduced in 1992 and quickly became the most popular and fastest growing segment of the race. Team sizes are 2, 4 and 8 persons. Relay Team racing made the event accessible to any fit cyclist.
There is no other race in the world like RAAM. There is no race that combines the distance, terrain and weather; no other event that tests a team’s spirit from beginning to end. The Race inspires everyone who has been a part of it - racer, crew, staff and fans alike. RAAM is the true test of speed, endurance, strength and camaraderie, the ideal combination of work and play.
This Ain’t No Tour
RAAM is a race! But, unlike the three great European Grand Tours (Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro de Italia), RAAM is not a stage race. RAAM is one continual stage, once the clock starts it does not stop until the finish line. It is the world’s longest time trial…the ultimate race of truth.
RAAM is about 30% longer than the Tour de France. Moreover, racers must complete the distance in roughly half the time, with no rest days.
RAAM is not limited to professional cyclists. RAAM is open to professional and amateur athletes alike. While solo racers must qualify to compete, anyone may organize a team and race.
Racers must cycle 3000 miles, across 12 states, and climb over 170,000 vertical feet. Team racers have a maximum of nine days but most finish in about seven and a half with the fastest in just over 5 days. Solo racers have a maximum of 12 days to complete the race, most finishing in 11 days with the fastest finishing in under 8 days.
Who and Why?
Racers come from all over the world and all walks of life. Racers are both amateurs and professionals. The majority are ordinary people, with full time jobs and a passion for riding their bicycle. Racers range in age from 13 to 75. Approximately 50 % of the racers are from outside the US. About 18% of the racers are women.
Every year there are racers from at least 20 countries. Over 35 countries, from six continents, have been represented over the 35-year history of the race. When asked why? Some might echo George Mallory’s sentiment about Mt. Everest, “Because it’s there!”
For most racers the why is not quite so simple. Reasons include raising money for a charitable cause, winning a division, setting a record, seeing the country, sharing an experience with friends, adding their name to the distinguished roster of finishers, etc. But, overwhelmingly most people race RAAM simply to have fun and challenge themselves.
RAAM is an outstanding platform for raising money for charitable causes. It is rare that an event open to all-comers, is so challenging and has such high media coverage year round. It is these unique characteristics combined that allow racers dedicated to their cause can leverage off of. Also, unlike many events, racers have the option of which cause(s) they want to raise money for, or opt not to, it is not required. Racers annually raise collectively in excess of $2 million for a wide range of charitable causes.
Fans from all over the world follow RAAM. They can stay up to date on the web with live GPS tracking, through the bi-monthly RAAM Newsletter, race blogs, social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and traditional mainstream media (television, radio and print) . Additionally, RAAM has at least four of its own media crews on the course providing up-to-date video, photo and text coverage. Race coverage statistics: Annually, RAAM receives: 25+ million page views and 2500+ articles in mainstream media. This coverage provides substantial value to both sponsors and charities.
Photo Credit: Scott Justesen
2018 RAAM Solo Field
Photo Credit: Scott Justesen
ZRAAM 2021 at a Glance
The first year of RAAM was 1982. From 1983 through 1999, to officially finish RAAM a racer had to finish within two days of the winner. Ages 50-59 had an additional extra day and over 60 had two additional extra days. In 2000, the time limit rule was changed to 12 days and 2 hours. Later it became the current rule of 12 days with an extra 21 hours for women and for men over 60.
The route varies from year to year contemplating construction and roadwork but generally - the route is 3,000+ miles with more than 170,000 ft. of elevation gain.
Come June of 2021, I'll be racing in the Men's Solo age 60-69 category. To be an official RAAM finisher, I'll need to complete the race in 12 days and 21 hours.
Since 1982, here are the numbers for my age category:
# of RAAM attempts: 43
# of official finishes: 22 (51.2%)
# of unique racers: 31
# of unique racers with an official finish: 15 (48.4%)
Rick, so that means to be an official RAAM finisher you'll need to average more than 250 miles a day for 12 days and 21 hours?
What are you n.u.t.s.?