BPB racer Mike Birner won in a sprint finish in the Masters 35+ 3/4 race at the Michael P. Murad road race this past weekend. Here is the play-by-play in his own words:
"We've done 4 laps, there's two to go and no breaks have stayed away for any amount of time. Two guys are 20s up the road but not really a threat, looking to come right back once the pace picks up which it's starting to do. We come around a corner to find a woman on her horse off the side of the road. Horse gets spooked and starts bucking, starts running, bucks again throwing the woman and dragging her before she gets loose and stepped on. There is now a loose horse in the middle of our field running alongside us. People are yelling to hold up, stop the race. All but the 2 in the break have every indication of what's going on. Some stop to help the lady, some of us try to catch the horse. Some, yes some, decide to keep racing up the road. In the midst of this, the official says the race is stopped, to wait at the corner and we'll restart once we have the police back, the horse is caught and the woman is taken care of. Meanwhile the wheel van took a left off the course to go after, and finally catch, the horse."
"So things settle down and in about 5-10 minutes half of the pack restarts down the road with the expectation to meet up with the other half down the road. They're not at the next intersection so the official makes a call to be sure that they are stopped at the finish line. We all make our way to the finish line at a moderate pace expecting that the break will be given it's 20s and then we all restart together. No groups are there at the line waiting. The official is ringing the bell and yells to us "1 to go, you're racing as your own group". Not really sure what that means - I figured we were going to have to settle some things after the race. Our half of the group continued to race, nobody got away and I easily took the field sprint."
"Now the fun - They initially decided that they would treat the incident as if it was a crash and that we were a chasing group. Obviously, we didn't agree with that. I made it clear to each and every official that they made the wrong call on the road and should have stopped the other group because we were told by the moto we were neutralized. They couldn't argue the facts, knew there was a mistake and, at least, after deliberation between the promoter, racers and officials, offered up a compromise. End result - we were scored as two groups, two sets of results with split prizes and BAR points."