Chris Eatough (Trek/VW), and Jari Kirkland (Boulder Performance Network) won the men's and women's solo races at the 24 hours of Moab in Utah. Unlike in 2006, the weather co-operated "The weather was probably the best it has ever been for this race," said event director Laird Knight.
Long-time king of the endurance scene, Eatough of Ellicott City, Maryland, made his first-ever appearance in the solo class at Moab. Coming out of the LeMans-style start, Eatough sat in roughly 40th position. But after the first lap, he had worked himself into the top ten and he put himself in the lead on lap two. No one could follow, and Eatough was never challenged for the rest of his race, which consisted of 14 laps, 208 miles and 19,000 feet of climbing in 22 hours and 59 minutes.
During the early morning hours, two of Eatough's main challengers, perennial contender Ernesto Marenchin and the hard-charging Josh Tostado, abandoned the race. Although Eatough backed off a bit to combat fatigue during the 40 degree night-time temperatures, he still lapped the second placed rider by daybreak.
"It always feels good to win a 24-hour race, because it's such a long time to be on the bike, and it takes so much preparation," said Eatough after his win. He was drawn to the race by the size of the event, in particular the men's field, which attracted over 60 racers. Behind Eatough finished Travis Macy, a multi-sport athlete, and endurance mountain biker Rob Lichtenwalner, who also sealed his 24 Hour National Series leader overall win.
On the women's side, Jari Kirkland, who hails from Boulder, Colorado, found herself much better off this year. She was leading last year when the race was cancelled due to extreme weather and course conditions. Rebecca Rusch gave her a good challenge through the first eight hours before succumbing to the effects of a long season.
"I had to stop and nap for a couple of hours," said Rusch after finishing second.
Kirkland never gave up. "I didn't want to go that hard, but with all those girls chasing I felt I had to," she said after finishing 14 laps in 24 hours and two minutes, which notably was the same number of laps as Eatough and more than Macy. Lisse Daugard-Gordon took third.
Nat Ross and Mike Janelle (Gary Fisher / Tokyo Joes) finished 18 laps in 22:55 to win the duo pro class. "We could have ridden longer, but we figured our first place was secure, so we decided to stop there and have a beer," said Ross. Second place went to Chris Peters and Julian Gasiewski. Only ten minutes behind Team Ambiguous was the Bikers Edge/TFMB team of Jake Pantone and Jonny Hintze.
For full coverage of the 24 hours of Moab, click here.
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