Eatough and Sawicki will defend national titles in Moab

Chris Eatough (Trek Coop) is looking to add one final victory to his palmares this weekend at the 24 hours of Moab, on October 10-11 in Utah. The weekend's race is doubling as the US 24-hour National Championships, which will award 13 national titles to various category winners. Eatough, who previously won Moab in 2007, will compete in the final race of his pro career as the defending 24-hour national champion. In his career, he has won six world 24-hour titles and five national 24-hour titles.

A talented men's field has signed up to take on Eatough. Endurance pros including 24-hour National Points Series leader Brandon Draugelis (Cannondale Factory Racing/Lupine), Ernesto Marenchin (, Pivot Cycles) Evan Plews (, Jesse Jakomait (Cannondale Factory Racing), Josh Tostado (Bach Builders / Santa Cruz), Steve Schwarz (Titus Cycles) and Eddie O'Dea (Topeak / Ergon) are among those registered.

On the women's side, defending champion Pua Sawicki (Team Mata) will be the one to beat. She's won three of the past four 24-hour national championships and will attempt to become the first-ever female record holder in the Guinness Book of World Records for the "most miles ridden in 24 hours on a mountain bike." Sawick is coming off a seventh place finish at the UCI Marathon World Championships in August after becoming the only American to ever land inside the top 10 at marathon worlds.

2007 and 2008 Moab winner Jari Kirkland will return for another shot at a win. 24-hour world champion Rebecca Rusch will appear at the press conference, but her name does not appear on the solo women's start list.  Instead, she is racing the women's duo category with Gretchen Reeves.

In the men's singlespeed category, Dejay Birtch (Niner / Ergon) and Greg Martin (Spot / DPA) are among the favorites. Look out for Lynda Wallenfels ( in the women's singlespeed category.

Record numbers of racers have signed up, and 4,000 athletes, support crew and specators are expected to attend. Because organizers Granny Gear base prize money on attenance, there will also be record payouts, too.

"We're really looking forward to providing the kind of production quality deserved of a national championship," said Laird Knight, president of Granny Gear Productions. "We will have live, real-time scoring available on-site as well as via the web, so fans all over the world can follow the progress of their favorite team. Based on the increased participation, this year's event is also shaping up to have the largest cash purse in the history of 24-Hour racing, topping US$24,000."

Real-time stats will be posted on Granny Gear's website (

Thirteen different classes will race for the Stars-and-Stripes and designation as USA Cycling 24-Hour Mountain Bike National Champion. Racers must compete in one of the championship categories to earn this honor and must hold (or obtain) a current USA Cycling racing license. Also, the national championship is up for grabs by American riders only. National championship classes will also be competing within 24-hour series classes with matching criteria.

For example, the men's solo championship winner could also win the 24 Hours of Moab men's solo, or perhaps, take second in the 24 Hours of Moab men's solo and, in either case, earn series points and cash purses accordingly. However, a men's solo that is not registered in the men's solo championship class could win the 24 Hours of Moab Men's Solo class but would not qualify in the USA Cycling Championships.

Prior to the addition of an American-only national championship race, the 24-Hours of Moab has a fourteen-year history as one of the most popular mountain bike races in North America.

The course is a classic mix of high-speed double-track, technical sections and power-sucking sand-traps. The roughly 15-mile loop has nearly 1,400 feet of climbing per lap.

The forecast for the weekend looks good with highs in the 70s (degrees Fahrenheit) and mostly sunny weather. Night temperatures in the 40s are predicted.

USA Cycling National Championship titles to be awarded
Men's Solo Championship
Women's Solo Championship
Men's Solo Singlespeed Championship
Women's Solo Singlespeed Championship
Mixed Duo Championship
Men's Duo Championship
Women's Duo Championship
Men's 4-Person Championship
Women's 4-Person Championship
Men's Junior 4-Person (18 & under) Championship
Women's Junior 4-Person (18 & under) Championship
Men's 4-Person Masters (35+) Championship
Women's 4-Person Masters (35+) Championship

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.

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