Twelve earn Mountain Bike Marathon National Titles

Breckenridge, Colo. (July 4, 2008) – More than 800 off-road racers gathered on a picturesque July 4th day to compete for one of a dozen stars-and-stripes jerseys awarded at the 50-mile marathon distance at the Firecracker 50. Last year’s national championship runner-up in Olympic-style cross country, Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va.) came away with the overall victory after completing the marathon event in less than four hours. In the women’s pro/open category a relative newcomer to the mountain bike scene, Sari Anderson (Glenwood Springs, Colo.) took home her first USA Cycling National Championship, besting a packed women’s field.    
With numerous riders forced out of the competition, including several pre-race favorites, the story of the day was the slew of flats and mechanicals that riddled the dry, rocky course. From the start, Evan Plews (Salem, Ore.) soared to the front of a talented pack of riders on the first of the two, 25-mile laps. After riding conservatively out front for the majority of the contest, Plews suffered an untimely flat with Bishop on his heels on the final steep descent. Riding the flat through the closing kilometers, Plews was also passed by a surging Mike McCalla (Santa Fe, N.M.) who earned the second spot in a true race of attrition.
“I broke my chain twice and ripped three spokes,” explained Bishop. “I thought I’d be fighting for a podium spot. At the end I thought I was sprinting for third with Evan. I didn’t know I’d won until they jumped on me at the finish. It was a great surprise!”
The women’s pro race was led out by a four-pack of some of the nation’s strongest off-road riders. Pua Sawicki (Maliani, Hawaii), took off out of the gate to lead Jenny Smith (Gunnison, Colo.), Gretchen Reeves (Edwards, Colo.) and Anderson who rode together in front for the majority of the first lap. An experienced adventure racer, Anderson was able to get around Reeves and sneak away on a steep climb and never looked back. The first woman to cross the line, Anderson recorded a time of 4:29:12 as two-time national champion Reeves took the silver more than five minutes later. Jennifer Gersbach (Avon, Colo.) used a late-race surge to take third.  
“This is awesome,” said Anderson. “There was great competition out there, and to be able to beat them is really special. I just had a baby and this race was really just to get some miles. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I never thought I would be the national champion.”
Ten additional national championships were awarded across various categories with all racers contesting the two steep, 25-mile laps. Braden Kappius (Littleton, Colo.) earned the stars-and-stripes by more than 10 minutes in the men’s 19-29 division, while Jane Rynbrandt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) took home the women’s title in that age group. Zachary Vestal (Boulder, Colo.) won the men’s 30-34 race in nearly four hours and Jill Sorensen (Breckenridge, Colo.) earned the 30-39 women’s national title in less than five. Joel Mischke (Basalt, Colo.) earned the stars-and-stripes in the packed men’s 35-39 age division and Karen Hogan (Louisville, Colo.) won the women’s 40-49 national title. Russell Asleson (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Jane Finsterwald (Basalt, Colo.)  and Leon Fetzer (Breckenridge, Colo.) rounded out the day’s national champions.

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2008 Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships
Breckenridge, Colo.
July 4, 2008
Men’s Pro/Open
1. Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va.) 3:49:37
2. Michael McCalla (Santa Fe, N.M.) 3:50:47
3.Evan Plews (Salem, Ore.) 3:51:03
Women’s Pro/Open
1. Sari Anderson (Glenwood Springs, Colo.) 4:29:12
2. Gretchen Reeves (Boulder, Colo.) 4:34:13
3. Jennifer Gersbach (Avon, Colo.) 4:36:52
Men’s 19-29
1. Braden Kappius (Littleton, Colo.) 4:01:35
2. Kalan Beisel (Colorado Springs, Colo.) 4:13:07
3. Paul Gorbold (Avon, Colo.) 4:16:48
Women’s 19-29
1. Jane Rynbrandt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) 5:27:09
2. Kate Chapman (Breckenridge, Colo.) 5:31:55
3. Tiffanie Beal (Boulder, Colo.) 5:39:17
Men’s 30-34
1. Zachary Vestal (Boulder, Colo.) 4:00:52
2. Cameron Brenneman (Santa Fe, N.M.) 4:08:30
3. Cody Waite (Wheat Ridge, Colo.) 4:09:41
Women’s 30-39
1. Jill Sorensen (Breckenridge, Colo.) 4:48:50
2. Ambre Levy (Aspen, Colo.) 5:24:06
3. Catherine Chatecki (Boulder, Colo.) 5:27:27
Men’s 35-39
1. Joel Mischke (Basalt, Colo.) 4:15:36
2. Ross Delaplane (Golden, Colo.) 4:16:47
3. Gilbert Damon (Colorado Springs, Colo.) 4:25:15
Men’s 40-49
1. Mike Horgan (Louisville, Colo.) 4:03:30
2. Thane Wright (Keystone, Colo.) 4:09:16
3. Cam Kirkpatrick 4:20:05
Women’s 40-49
1. Karen Hogan (Louisville, Colo.) 4:58:59
2. Anne Gonzales (Aspen, Colo.) 5:10 :32
3. Jacqueline Wood (Frisco, Colo.) 5:35:34
Men’s 50-59
1. Russell Asleson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) 4:40:19
2. Rob Westermann 4:49:19
3. Todd Henneman (Park City, Utah) 4:50:59
Women’s 50+
1. Jane Finsterwald (Basalt, Colo.) 5:27:14
Men’s 60+
1. Leon Fetzer (Breckenridge, Colo.) 5:42:59
 Click here to view photos from the day's events.
About USA Cycling   
Recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale, USA Cycling is the official governing body for all disciplines of competitive cycling in the United States, including road, track, mountain bike, BMX and cyclo-cross. As a membership-based organization and sanctioning body, USA Cycling consists of 64,000+ members, including 57,000 competitive cyclists, 1,500 coaches, 4,000 student-athletes, 2,200 officials, 350 professional cyclists, and 200 certified mechanics. USA Cycling also sanctions 2,500 competitive and non-competitive organized cycling events throughout the United States annually, as well as 1,800 clubs and teams. Associations of USA Cycling include the United States Cycling Federation (road, track & cyclo-cross), the National Off-Road Bicycle Association (mountain bike), the BMX Association, the National Collegiate Cycling Association and the United States Professional Racing Organization. USA Cycling is also responsible for the identification, development, support and promotion of American cyclists through various athletic initiatives and programs including the USA Cycling National Development Team, the USA Cycling Women’s National Team, the USA Cycling Junior Development Team, Talent Identification and Regional Development Camps, domestic and international race calendars, direct athlete funding and support programs, and educational camps and seminars. USA Cycling also fields and supports U.S. National Teams for various international events, including the Olympic Games, World Championships, Pan American Games, Continental Championship and World Cups across all levels and disciplines of competitive cycling. USA cycling further supports grass roots and locally-based initiatives through its 32 Local Associations and comprehensive network of licensed and certified coaches and officials. Additionally, USA Cycling conducts National Championship events for amateur and professional cyclists, awarding more than 600 national titles annually to men and women in junior, U23, masters, elite, professional and paralympic categories throughout the various disciplines of competitive cycling. To learn more about USA Cycling, visit For media-related or general inquiries, please contact USA Cycling Director of Communications, Andy Lee at 719-866-4867 or   

This Article Published July 4, 2008 For more information contact: