Mata caps off successful season with national victory

Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Specialized) wins the US Marathon National Championships

Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Specialized) wins the US Marathon National Championships (Image credit: Ty Kady)

Monique "Pua" Mata capped off a solid endurance mountain biking season by taking a solid win at this weekend's USA Cycling Marathon Nationals in Bend, Oregon.

For Mata, who recently wrapped up the US Pro Ultra Endurance (Pro UET) series title and took a win at the Whiskey 50 in April, it was the crowning race of the 2011 US endurance calendar.

The Sho-Air/Specialized rider defeated some heavy hitters in order to clinch the 2011 stars and stripes jersey, including two-time reigning marathon national champion Heather Irmiger and Giant's Kelli Emmett.

"This is one race I hadn't won until now, and after having some problems at Leadville this year, I was really hoping I could have a good race," said Mata. "Winning over the likes of Kelli, Heather and Amanda (Carey), all who are excellent riders, made it even more special for me and the team."

Mata took to the front early in the race, after she noticed a small gap developing over the her and Emmett. From there, Mata kept the hammer down and continued to distance herself from the chase group all the way to the finish. She set a fast time of 3:38:58 seconds, nearly five minutes over runner up Emmett and 10 minutes over last year's champion Irmiger.

"It's a great way to cap off the season," said Mata.

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