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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Monique Pua Sawicki
At the 12 hours of Temecula last weekend, Monique "Pua" Sawicki (Team Mata) took the overall win -...
At the 12 hours of Temecula last weekend, Monique "Pua" Sawicki (Team Mata) took the overall win - besting not only all the other women, but all the men, too.
The event drew more people than ever (over 200 racers) to its 17.7 kilometer (11 mile) course, featuring 457 meters (1,500 feet) of climbing per lap. The course was in excellent condition throughout the race.
Pua took the solo lead on the first lap, coming through the gate with the top four team male racers and 5.5 minutes ahead of the nearest male solo competitor. On the second lap, she broke her chain a little over half-way through. After about eight minutes of fumbling with the chain and getting some help from another racer, the chase pack caught her. She fixed it and took off after them, eventually passing all but one pro male on the next lap. Within two more laps, she recaptured the lead and opened a five minute gap over the entire field. A few laps later, the gap grew to ten minutes.
Later, she caught a glimpse of a bike off the side of the trail. She stopped and called down to see if the rider needed help. She heard a young voice squeak out, "yes." It was a young male racer who had fallen down into the bushes with his bike landing on top of him. She pulled him up and got him going again.
Going into the night, her lead grew to 15 minutes. She bounced up quickly after a small spill, but on the following technical descent, her primary light's connection to its battery failed due to crash damage. Fortunately, her backup helmet light was still working, and in fact, she led another racer back with exhausted lights to the finish.
The light incident shrunk her lead to only four minutes, but by the end she was back up to ten minutes when she took the overall win.
She set not only the female course record, but also the male course record: 11 laps in 10 hours and 55 minutes.