TERRE HAUTE —
When we last visited 16-year-old Rachel Gutish, she was finishing sixth in the Women’s Enduro X race in the nationally televised Summer X Games at Los Angeles.
A junior at Terre Haute North, which she represented as an IHSAA state-finalist in the girls pole vault a few months ago, the versatile Gutish leaves no doubt that her specialty sport is motorcycle racing.
So far in 2012, Gutish said she ranks fourth in the Grand National Cross Country Series, second in the National Enduro Series and fifth in the GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series.
Now she’s got another big event coming.
Gutish and her KTM 200cc will compete next Monday through Saturday in the International Six Days Enduro at Saxony, Germany. The event is sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM).
She became eligible for this event by placing third in a qualifier in Idaho City back in June. She’ll be one of three women representing the United States.
“I’m incredibly excited,” she told me before leaving Terre Haute with her parents earlier this week. “I get to go to Germany, which is awesome in itself, but then I get to represent my country in such an important race.”
Rachel Gutish said the Six Days Enduro is as prestigious as the Summer X Games, although it won’t be shown on American television.
“They’re two different forms of the same type of thing,” she explained. “The course [for the Six Days Enduro] will consist mostly of trail with some motocross and grass-track sections. And we’ll be running 160 miles a day and it will last six days.
“Each day, you’re given separate scores based on your performance and those scores will be totaled to determine your finish.”
Asked about her goal for next week, Gutish said it’s simply to finish.
“It’s an incredibly hard event and many of the riders who go over don’t finish,” she emphasized. “So just completing each day and completing the race for the week, that would be really good. And if all three of the [U.S.] women finish, we have a good shot at finishing fairly high in the team competition.”
Gutish mentioned that she won’t be allowed to switch bikes if she encounters mechanical problems.
“You get so tired physically, mentally and emotionally,” she added. “It’ll probably take seven or eight hours each day [to finish]. You have to pace yourself. That’s one of the hardest problems that new riders to the Six Days have.”
Gutish, who has never competed overseas before, admitted that a French rider is favored to win this event. If Gutish finishes, she hopes to place in the top 10.
There are no monetary prizes offered in the Six Days Enduro, only medals of the gold, silver and bronze varieties.
With all of this traveling and competing for medals, one might wonder how Gutish will handle her academic responsibilities.
“I did all of my homework ahead of time because I didn’t want to worry about the additional stress of trying to do homework on top of all the racing I’ll be doing,” she insisted. “All of my teachers were really supportive. I was surprised, to be honest.”
Although Gutish is probably focused on the Six Days Enduro in Germany this week, she promised she would save time for fun.
“I should have a day or two for just being a tourist,” she said with a grin.
David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.