When 57 year old Seana Hogan rolled onto City Dock here in Annapolis at sunrise this morning, she achieved many things. By finishing this year’s 3,069 miles in a time of 12 days, 13 hours, 25 minutes,
she succeeded in breaking the women’s 50-59 age category average speed record of 9.83 mph previously held by Kathy Roche-Wallace. Hogan is also now the oldest woman to finish solo RAAM, is of course now the event’s only 7-time winner (1992, ’93, ’94, ’95, ’97 ’98 and 2016) and her having a 16-year span between wins is probably another record (oh Dex?).
Hogan was positively beaming as she pedaled under the finish arch. She kept that bright smile as she groggily commented on her experiences of her journey, “This is the best crew I’ve had in the last five years,” she declared. “Their personalities are all so different and we all just clicked together. We had a blast! It was fun!” Asked what motivates her to continue coming back to RAAM, she replied, “I like setting goals for myself. Back in 1995 when I set the Transcontinental record the second time I told myself that in my 50’s I would like to come back and set the 50+ record. This is my third attempt and finally I was able to achieve it. I was talking to my crew—I guess it was my crew. Somebody was by me (laughing)—a lot of people when they get older and they realize they can’t do something as well as they could when they were younger, then they just don’t do it. I don’t want to live my life that way. I want to be able to feel free, to do what I want to do and not be swayed by other people and what other people think. There are always naysayers, ‘why is Seana going out and trying it again. She should just give up. She’s already done it all, why do more?’ The thing I would say to older people is ‘go for it.’ If you want to do something and it takes you several tries, keep going. If I see that something is do-able, then I’ll keep at it until it’s done. If you fail, so what? Adapt and try something else. You get older and have to accept that you’re not going to be the athlete that you were. But should you give up? No! It’s fun. I enjoy riding my bicycle, I enjoy the whole experience.”
Hogan did fail in her two previous attempts at the 50-59 record. Last year’s DNF was due to saddle sores, a fate she vowed to avoid this year. “I don’t think anyone can go through RAAM without saddle issues. It’s about keeping it manageable,” she said this morning. One of her methods managing with that issue was to occasionally use her EZ-Seat, the type that she described in a pre-RAAM conversation as “—one of those dorky seats with a pad for each cheek.” But an EZ-Seat isn’t workable while in the aero position—there’s no saddle nose so all of the upper-body weight is held by the arms and shoulders, relegating its use to climbing where Hogan sits farther back in the saddle and the pushing motion against the pedals would hold her positioned on the saddle.
In her younger years Hogan could climb Wolf Creek Pass as well as most of the men. But this year the 10,896-foot pass was challenging. “I had trouble with the altitude. I could not get over Wolf Creek Pass. I’d pedal, pedal and go, ‘where’s the top of this thing?’ Finally I got in the van to go to sleep for a little while and tried it again and finally we got over.” Pat Enright commented on their strategy change after that day, “Once things started to slow down in Colorado and we shifted our focus from how fast could she get across to how far ahead of the record is she. We figured out what she had to do to break the record and just went with that because if she was pushing hard she was going to end up injuring herself. So we slowed it down and stayed ahead of the record.”
They were of course successful. With her enthusiasm and competitive nature, RAAM finish line emcee George Thomas posed the obvious question of whether she’ll come back in three years to attempt to become RAAM’s first age 60-69 female finisher. “I don’t know if I’ll do it again. I’m just getting older,” she said thoughtfully to that prospect. “It’s harder to mitigate, to fix the problems. When you’re younger you’re resilient and you can fix issues. We’ll see.” When Thomas asked her husband Pat to comment he laughed and replied, “I’ll stay out of this!” to which Hogan commented, “Smart man. That’s why I married him.”