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US marathon national championships awarded to Bend

U.S. Champion Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) riding in third place on the fourth lap.

U.S. Champion Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) riding in third place on the fourth lap. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine)

USA Cycling named Bend, Oregon, as the host of the 2011 and 2012 US Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships.

The annual event, which crowns 24 national champions, has been held in conjunction with the Firecracker 50 in Breckenridge, Colorado, for the past four years. Its move to Bend for 2011 and 2012 will mark the seventh and eighth USA Cycling National Championship events held in the cycling-friendly city in a four-year period.

"We are very excited to further our relationship with Bend," said USA Cycling's National Events Director, Kelli Lusk. "Bend is one of the most popular hotbeds for cycling in North America. Based on our previous experience there, as well as on the community’s outstanding enthusiasm for the sport, we're confident our members will have an exceptional national championship experience."

The city of Bend has also hosted USA Cycling's 2009 and 2010 Juniors, U23 & Elite Road National Championships and 2009 Cyclo-cross National Championships. In December, it will play host to Cyclo-cross Nationals again. Then the 2011 and 2012 editions of the USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships will also take place there.

The 2011 and 2012 marathon nationals will start and end in Bend's historic Old Mill District. The race course will provide a combination of technical sections and miles of highly acclaimed singletrack. Competitors will gradually climb for 25+ miles toward Mt. Bachelor before looping around and returning to town on a fast and fun descent.

"As a community, Bend is honored and excited to host," said president and CEO of Visit Bend, Doug La Placa. "We're looking forward to sharing Bend's world class singletrack with cyclists from around the country and we're committed to hosting an event that will exceed the expectations of everyone involved."

Crowned less than two weeks ago, Heather Irmiger and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru/Trek) are the current US marathon national champions.