Reny Townsend advances into the final lap while winning the Southern Oregon Outlaw Cyclocross race in Merlin Saturday. - Andy Atkinson

Mud, sweat and cheers in Merlin

It didn't matter what they were riding — mountain bike or cyclocross bike — they all got muddy.

At the fifth and final race of the Southern Oregon 2008 Outlaw Cyclocross Series, 57 racers battled it out Saturday on a wet and slippery course at Paradise Ranch in Merlin.

The annual cycling event for the first time included three competition categories, with riders doing multiple laps around the course within a given time limit, plus one final lap.

After all the mud and puddles, the athletes faced a steep, 15-meter hill that forced most racers off their bikes to reach the top.

Pro rider Reny Townsend, racing for Etna Brewing Co./DeSalvo Custom Cycles, was the fastest mudslinger, winning the "A" premier category.

The race concluded the 2008 Southern Oregon cycling race season, with some riders heading to Portland for the National Cyclocross Championships.

For race results:

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