Once again the USAC Marathon National Championships provided
itís own fireworks on July 4th. There is no doubt the Firecracker 50
racecourse is what makes each Independence Day special for mountain bike racers
across the country.
Starting on Main Street in Breckenridge, Colorado, racers
cruise up the Fourth of July parade route, giving high-fives as they go. Then
the riders are unleashed on 50 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing, a brutal
task for any rider.
Last yearís winning duo Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru/Trek)
and his teammate/wife rode away from the field to take back-to-back wins and
the Marathon National Champion stars and stripes jersey.
The lead group wasted no time getting out front as the
opening 6-mile road climb separated the top contenders quickly. The front group
included big names like JHK, Sam Schultz (Subaru/Trek), MTB legend Dave Wiens
(Topeak/Ergon), Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale), Peter Stetina, and Burke
Swindlehurst (Team Give).
The leaders challenged each other but as the course topped
out at well over 11,000 feet Horgan-Kobelski began to pull away. Even at such a
high altitude the Subaru/Trek rider is able to push a relentless cross country
pace. By feed zone two he already had a lead of minutes over the others.
Behind the lone leader his teammate Sam Schultz showed again
why he is a rising star in U.S. mountain bike racing. Horgan-Kobelski flatted and Schultz took over the lead.
Bishop ran into
mechanical trouble early and fell off the pace before rallying late to chase
down Swindlehurst on the interminably steep Little French Gulch climb.
The defending champion excelled on the road climb that started each lap and by the second feed zone of the last lap he once again held a commanding lead.
Finally, Horgan-Kobelski crossed the line with a time of
3.35.59, slower than his time last year but more than enough to take his second
consecutive Marathon National Championship. Schultz finished over 6 minutes
later with another high-altitude specialist, Dave Wiens taking third.
Bishop held off accomplished road racer Swindlehurst taking
4th by less than one minute.
In the womenís event it was Heather Irmiger (Subaru/Trek) starting
things off with a bang as she climbed the opening road with the best of the
professional menís field. Pua Sawicki (Okolestuff.com) did her best to stay
within striking distance.
She stayed close to the leader until the first long descent
when a faulty brake hampered the endurance-racing star and by the second feed
zone her race was already over.
Behind the leader it was youngster Amy Dombroski (Luna),
former Firecracker champion Gretchen Reeves (Tokyo Joeís), and Tammy
Jacques-Mayne (Honey Stinger) giving chase. Early on, the three teamed up to
attacking the climbs.
Jacques-Mayne was the first to falter as todayís revelation;
Krista Park (Cannondale/Incycle) surged through the pack winding it up after
pacing herself on the start.
Park moved past Reeves and Dombroski taking over second
place. Dombroski wasnít about to surrender. The petite Luna rider kept her
quarry in site as the two engaged in an epic battle up the brutal Little French
Gulch climb. Park pulled ahead as Dombroski was forced to dismount early.
Just as things seemed to be decided Dombroski refused to
give up, regrouping and closing the gap to the Cannondale rider. This time it
was Parkís turn to come off the bike. Twice hitting her feet on the final
pitch. Dombroski cleaned this final section and moved back into second place.
Once ahead she kept the pace high descending confidently at
high-speed opening the gap.
All the time Heather Irmiger stayed out front. She was
simply untouchable in her title defense today. Her incredible pace and
unmatched strength at high-altitudes let her stay well clear of the nearest
challenger and posted an incredible time of 4.16.48, which would have placed
her 21st in the pro menís field.
Dombroski powered her way home for second followed by a
resplendent Krista Park.
Gretchen Reeves held on for 4th followed by
fellow Colorado rider Kelly Boniface (Moots).
Giant rider Mitchell Peterson started the day having a good race before flatting on the first lap. Before the finish he would suffer 5 more punctures before demolishing his wheel by riding on the rim over the rockiest portions of the course.
1, Heather Irmiger (Subaru/Trek) 4.16.48
2, Amy Dombroski (Luna) 4.23.45
3, Krista Park (Cannondale/Incycle) 4.24.36
4, Gretchen Reeves (Tokyo Joes) 4.32.30
5, Kelly Boniface (Moots) 4.34.38
6, Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) 4.38.04
7, Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) 4.45.40
8, Sonya Looney (Topeak/Ergon) 4.50.51
9, Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) 5.09.30
10, Jen Hanks (Revolution/Peak Fasteners)
11, Carol Clemens (Gretna Bikes)
12, Jill Damman (Fitzgerald's)
1, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru/Trek) 3.35.59
2, Sam Schultz (Subaru/Trek) 3.42.17
3, Dave Wiens (Topeak/Ergon) 3.47.27
4, Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) 3.50. 25
5, Burke Swindlehurst (Team Give) 3.51.12
6, Brady Kappius (Clif Bar) 3.52.14
7, Mike McCalla (Scott/Magura) 3.52.28
8, Jeff Schalk (Trek Racing Co-Op) 3.58.08
9, Travis Scheefer 3.58.11
10, Tim Allen (Niner) 3.58.49
11, Jake Wells (Mafia Racing) 3.58.49
12, Matthew Beaton
13, Barkley Robinson
14, Nate Bird
15, Colby Pearce
16, John Curry
17, Ryan Trebon
18, Brandon Dwight
19, Doug Johnson
20, Alex Grant (Cannondale)
21, Shawn Meredith
22, Daniel Meredith
23, Jeff Kerkove
24, Bradford Sims
25, Shannon Boffeli (iRide Adventures/MTBRaceNews.com)
26, Nick Truitt
27, Spencer Powlison
28, Doug Andrews
29, Kat Statman
30, Robert Marion
31, Jamie Morgan
32, Matt Simmons
33, Peter Ostroski
34, Drew Edsall
35, Ty Hansen
36, Phillip Grove
37, Cam Kirkpatrick
38, Ernesto Marenchin
39, Chris Peariso
40, Macky Franklin
41, Alan Adams
42, Mitchell Peterson
43, Evan Halladay