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It wasn’t the best of times, but it wasn’t the worst of times either. For an event that has seen freezing rain the last two years, it seemed fitting that the 2013 Women’s Little 500 race would feature weather that was at least a little miserable. There was no rain on Bloomington's Indiana University campus, but temperatures were near freezing Friday afternoon, the wind whipped from every direction, and snow flurries made a fleeting appearance. It seemed the weather would keep the crowds away, but as the 4 p.m. start time neared, fans trickled in.
Bundled up and shivering, the racers were eager to get started. So much so that the 2013 race featured its first crash on just Lap 3. Oddly, it has become a bit of an annual tradition to have a fairly scary crash in the first few laps before the bikers settle down and race cleanly. This crash left a Rainbow Cycling rider with a broken collarbone, leaving that team's already-smaller squad with just two able-bodied riders for the remainder of the race. Remarkably, they stuck with the pack and finished the race in 14th place, earning the respect of the entire field.
Much of the rest of the race featured the top teams—Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, Wing It, and Teter—exchanging leads and staying on each other’s wheels. In just a 100-lap race, and without any major crashes to serve as landmarks, Lap 92 snuck up on the field. That’s when Delta Gamma’s Kayce Doogs hopped on the bike and turned relentless. Teter exchanged twice in that time, and the Thetas did the same—both positioning fresh legs on Lap 97 to make a run at the title. But Doogs stayed strong. Theta’s Kathleen Chelminiak was out to avenge a second-place finish last year, when Doogs beat her on the sprint. Lap 98 rolled around and the first major attack of the race occurred as the Thetas overtook Kappa Kappa Gamma, who would finish 7th. It appeared as if the Thetas would be the ones on top of the podium in 2013. That is until Lap 99, when Doogs kicked it into gear around Turn 1 and was side by side with Chelminiak soon after.
The final sprint to the finish was painful, but not because of a crash. It was so because it became a mirror finish to last year’s race, as Doogs overtook Chelminiak in the sprint around Turn 3 and led DG sorority to its second championship in a row, propelling the team into an elite class of back-to-back champions. The Thetas will go down in history as just missing out. Twice.
Sorority women hopped the fencing, and the sounds of Schwinn bicycles zipping around the track were replaced by high-pitched squeals of joy. To capture the moment, DG sisters held up both their iPhones and cardboard cutouts in support as their winning squad of Doogs, Ellexis Howey, Emily Loebig, and Kelsey Phillips accepted the first place trophy yet again. Doogs held the trophy tight, as if racers were still speeding around Turn 4 to get it. They’ll have to wait until next April to try.
Photos by Michael Schrader and Jonathan Streetman
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