While the world’s best marathoners were contesting for rainbow jerseys in Villabassa, Italy, America’s top marathoners were competing in their national marathon championship in Breckenridge, Colorado. More than 800 racers started the day, which would include two laps of 25 miles each, parading down Main Street on the Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day holiday. In total, 12 national champions were crowned – in the elite men’s and women’s races, it was Jeremiah Bishop and Sara Anderson winning the titles.
Following a neutral start, Even Plews and Jeremiah Bishop took spots in the lead on the course’s first climb of 2000 feet, at about mile 15. “I had a strong race going with a 90-second lead,” said Bishop, “when my chain got caught in the spokes.” As Bishop made his repairs, other competitors passed him by – he lost track of exactly whom.
Hoping to rally for at least a top five finish, Bishop continued racing and caught Trek/VW team-mate Travis Brown. The two worked together until the start of the big climb on lap two. “I just buried my head and went flat out the second time up the 2000ft ascent. I was fired up after losing the lead,” said Bishop.
Just as things were looking up, his chain snapped again. Back on the bike after a second repair, he caught veteran racer Dave Wiens, someone Bishop had looked up to as he was beginning his own racing career. “[Wiens] encouraged me to chase hard. There were two riders who were just 30 seconds ahead.”
With seven miles to go and one major climb, Bishop pushed on to catch both riders including favorite Evan Plews, who suffered an untimely flat on the final steep descent. “At that point, I just tired to stay smooth and not crash.” When he crossed the line, he didn’t know he had won, but after being mobbed by jubilant members of his team and doused with beer, he soon figured it out.
“I had no idea why people were spraying me in the face with beer and jumping on me,” said Bishop, “but after a second or two it started to make sense.”
Plews was also passed by Mike McCalla, who would finish second while Plews earned bronze.
In the women’s race, Sari Anderson captured her first national title ahead of top racers like Pua Sawicki, who started off in the lead with Jenny Smith, Gretchen Reeves and Anderson.
Anderson, an adventure racer got away on a steep climb and held her lead until the end of the race. Two-time national champion Reeve finished second while Jennifer Gersbach had a strong finish to earn third.
“There was great competition out there, and to be able to beat them is really special,” said Anderson according to www.usacycling.org. “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.”
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