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Rusch aims to defend her Leadville 100 win

Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) on her way to check out the cross country course at the Sea Otter Classic

Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) on her way to check out the cross country course at the Sea Otter Classic
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)

After finishing second in the Sea Otter Super D on Friday afternoon, Rebecca Rusch is ready for more chances to race the discipline. She's also gearing up for more marathon and stage racing this season.

"I'm interested in super Ds now, and stage racing, too, like the BC Bike Race," said Rusch, who is committed to defending the Leadville 100 title she won in 2009, her first attempt at the 100-mile Colorado mountain bike race.

"Leadville 100 is a priority for this year," she said to Cyclingnews," and I had a great time racing in Argentina. I'm going to mix up the racing more." Early in the season she raced both the Trans Andes and the Trans Patagonia races in South America.

A long-time rider for Specialized, Rusch has experienced plenty of success, including world titles, in 24-hour racing, but her focus has been shifting away from that type of event.

"I love 24-hour racing. That's where my passion is, but doing solos can be really brutal. If I do any, it will be one or two or as part of a team. They are so hard."

She had planned to race the US 24-hour National Championships in June at the 24-hours of Big Bear, but then the race was cancelled, and the championships were moved to Moab, Utah, in October.

"I was looking forward to the Big Bear 24-hour race because the course is supposed to be amazing, and I've never been there. It's supposed to be an inspiring one to ride."

"I am considering doing the World 24-hour solo race in Australia, but it's in mid-October, the same weekend as Moab, and I've only planned my season through August. I have to see how fresh I am and if I still have the psyche to do a hard solo then."

Rusch's shift in focus is not unlike the trend which seems to be sweeping the United States. Fewer racers seem to be participating in 24-hour events, but 100-milers, marathons and stage races are seeing continuing growth in participation.

"I think I'm not alone in that I want to go to great places, and I want to get a lot of bang for my buck. For a cross country race, I don't get a lot of out two hours. I want to see more."

"There is a trend toward 100-mile and marathon races," she said. "I think 24-hour races are great and you can bring the whole family, but it's hard if you have a nine-to-five job and have to be back at work on Monday morning. People really need to take four days off for a 24-hour race rather than two."

"100-milers are like the marathon running boom. It used to be really unusual for people to run marathons, but now everybody's grandmother does one. There's a lot of potential growth in the 100 milers - the ones that are a one-lap course, you can really see a lot of the area."

Rusch will do a 50-miler next weekend and said she's also considering racing the Shenandoah Mountain 100 which will be the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series finale for 2010.   She's still deciding whether she will race the BC Bike solo or as a member of a two-person team.