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2017 Baja 1000 Final Update


The Baja 1000 concluded last Friday for most racers, and for me, concluded Thursday night around 6:50 pm.  The full race was 1,138 miles and I made it to the 538-mile mark, having been in the saddle for about 17 hours straight. There were 19 Ironmen in my class and 6 finished.  It was a tough one and I will say, Baja won and beat me up pretty good in the process. I told my wife Anna, before the race, that I literally had no idea how my body would react to this race, especially not having a chance to work out the past six weeks or pre-run the route on a dirt bike. Well, I found out.

The good news was that my collarbone and ribs were stellar. The funny thing is that I almost never crash on my left side (my collarbone and ribs were on right) and that worried me.  I crashed twice…both times to the left…thank God for that.  The second time is sort of funny (now) as I hit a rock that shot be left through a good sized cactus. I had knee guards to protect my shins and kneecap, but falling sideways, the side of my knee slammed onto a rock.  There I was, rolling on my back, holding my knee as a big clump of cactus was impaled in my right shoulder, my upper chest and upper left arm. I was thinking that if anyone saw me right there, they would think I was nuts to do this.  I wasn’t arguing at the moment.

My right wrist (throttle hand) was tweaked in a high-speed section around mile 200.  It gradually was getting worse and we wrapped it around mile 320.

When I reached my brother’s pit, it was right after the nasty silt beds…the sun had set and I was pretty damaged. The giant trucks, which had started about 9 hours after me, started to catch up. I would not see my brother’s chase truck for another 8 hours and in weighing everything, I decided it was just too dangerous to continue. Maturity and wisdom overcame stubbornness and pride. I hate quitting anything, but there was a lot at stake here. It is what it is, and I don’t have any regrets, except that I wish I could have had those six weeks I lost after the accident and surgery. But God was good and I got 17 hours of riding in, for a cause that was special to me.

Picture of Mark Hodel on the fender of John’s bike.

Last minute, I also included a picture of my brother Mark on the fender.  This made an impression on many people, and was featured on the jumbo screen while being interviewed during contingency and the start.

Our donations since January are nearing the $60,000 mark, thanks to people like you, but I will tell you this.  What got me through the disappointment and the pain were the messages I read in my texts and Facebook posts.  They literally brought tears to my eyes.  There was not a more blessed man on the planet at those moments.

So in this instance, Baja won by unanimous decision.  But I can hold my head up knowing I gave it all I had and that I was surrounded by great chase teams, great friends and a God who watched over me.  Now let’s see where the Foundation goes from here.  My prayer is that it will flourish and that this part of the adventure will take it to new heights.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

John Hodel


BY: JOHN HODEL  /  Founder + President