When he crossed the finish line here in Annapolis today, Palle Nielsen (Denmark) fulfilled is dream of finishing RAAM. After having led his category for much of the first half of race—often by a wide margin,
he arrived in third place in the men’s 50-59 age category in a time of 11 days, 17 hours and 58 minutes to average 10.89 mph on this year’s 3,069-mile course. This was his second RAAM—Nielsen put his heart and soul into his 2013 RAAM effort; spending long hours training including pedaling a mountain bike through the snows of Denmark's winter (and spring!) on his daily 200 kilometer round-trip work commute, where he often found himself looking for a lower gear that wasn't there. But in spite of his tenacity he suffered the fate that is the harsh outcome for about half of RAAM rookies, posting a result of “DNF” (did not finish).
Nielsen began his post-race interview by saying, “My English is not so good,” So one of his crew helped translate. “He had a hard night and took it easy coming in here,” his crew member said. When asked about what emotions he was felling at the finish, he understood the question, gave a deep and contemplative look and said himself, “It’s difficult to explain in English.” He spoke long and his crew member related, “He says he’s really grateful to everyone who’s supported him in this, both in Denmark and throughout the world and here in the United States. He’s amazed that so many people would back up a project like this. He’d love to thank his family and that he appreciates their patience of the time he’s been preparing and training for RAAM. He’d also like to thank his kids, that they probably haven’t seen him all that much.” Palle himself finished the sentiment, “I must make up a lot of things for my kids. And my wife, I think, she has a lot of things at home I must do.” His wife Dorte was in the audience here in Annapolis. And upon hearing his words she smiled and nodded an emphatic yes. It’s not often good to have family members on a crew—they often have trouble coping with seeing their loved one’s ordeal. But Palle Nielsen said this about having Dorte along, “It helped to get me to the finish line. When you are confused, fatigued, is good to have love there.”