Both the 2008 US 24-hour men's and women's solo national champions were unable to defend their titles this weekend at the 24 Hours of Moab, which doubled as the 2009 nationals. Chris Eatough (Trek Co-op) and Pua Sawicki (Team Mata) were ill with flu-like symptoms.
Eatough had planned to race Moab as the final race of his career. He made it as far as the pre-race press conference, but feeling terrible, he decided not to start the race on Saturday morning.
"Of course it was bad timing. It came on during the buildup to Moab," said a disappointed Eatough to Cyclingnews. "Thursday and Friday and I was feeling pretty crummy. I knew on Friday that I wouldn't be able to ride the race. It would have been worse to start and have to pull out after five laps and then take forever to get well again." Eatough eventually tested negative for the flu, but it didn't matter; the flu-like symptoms had kept him from racing.
Sawicki was going to go for a Guiness World Record for the "most miles ridden in 24 hours on a mountain bike". She'd taken all precautions to stay healty prior to the record attempt. She was able to start, but the race did not go according to plan.
"Pua had a perfect start putting about seven minutes on her closest competitor. After several hours she had about 30 minutes on the entire field," said husband and number one supporter Ron Sawicki. "As things progressed Pua started to feel that something was wrong, she was still gaining on the chasers but much less per lap. She told her pit crew that her stomach felt bad."
As her lead grew to 45 minutes, she felt body aches and had trouble with her vision. Her support crew encouraged her to go on, but then her lead began to shrink, falling to 30 minutes.
"She felt so sick that she could not continue, we urged her to just go to the finish line and pull out of the race," said Ron. "She did that and we got her the medical attention she needed right away."
"After a ton of nasty coughing and other bad stuff we don't need to describe, Pua was stable but the race was over. We got her checked out with our doc and he made sure she did what she needed to get over the sickness. We were very disappointed in the outcome of this race."
To make matters worse, the Sawickis returned to their tent to discover that they'd been robbed, too. Their 10 x 10-foot tent, loaned to them by Moab Cyclery, was stolen. A 15-gallon water tank was also taken.
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