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Husband-and-wife teammates Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Heather Irmiger win marathon titles

Husband-and-wife Jeremy Horgan-Kolbelski and Heather Irmiger become the new mountain bike marathon national champions at the Firecracker 50 in Breckenridge, Colorado, on Saturday. The two, who each ride for the Subaru/Gary Fisher team, rode away from the competition early in their respective races. Last year's winner, Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale-Monavie), was second, 12-and-a-half minutes down on JHK’s new course record. Pua Sawicki (Ellsworth) was second to Irmiger, 16 minutes down.

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By Robbie Stout

2009 Marathon Championships: : Jeremy Horgan-Kolbelski has a comfortable gap halfway through the race.

2009 Marathon Championships: : Jeremy Horgan-Kolbelski has a comfortable gap halfway through the race.

Photo: Robbie Stout

Husband-and-wife Jeremy Horgan-Kolbelski and Heather Irmiger become the new mountain bike marathon national champions at the Firecracker 50 in Breckenridge, Colorado, on Saturday.

The two, who each ride for the Subaru/Gary Fisher team, rode away from the competition early in their respective races. Last year’s winner, Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale-Monavie), was second, 12-and-a-half minutes down on JHK’s new course record. Pua Sawicki (Ellsworth) was second to Irmiger, 16 minutes down.

Conditions were ideal for the 50 miles of backcountry singletrack that riders tackled. A full 750 riders lined up and more were denied entry due to the field limit.

2009 Marathon Championships: Dave Wiens crosses the finish line in twelfth place and accomplishes solid Leadville 100 training.

2009 Marathon Championships: Dave Wiens crosses the finish line in twelfth place and accomplishes solid Leadville 100 training.

Photo: Robbie Stout

The pro races were straight-forward, although Horgan-Kolbelski said his did not go as intended.

“My plan was to sit-in the first lap and see how everyone was riding and then hopefully take off on the second lap. I ended up going with those guys on the first climb and when they fell off I figured I’d make the most of it.”

After he separated himself from the field, he raced as if his competitors were nipping at his heals. “I never knew how far ahead I was out there, no one was giving me the splits.”

He credited his new Gary Fisher Super Fly 100, a full carbon, 100mm-travel full-suspension 29er.

Felt-Holowesko-Garmin roadie Peter Stetina made a surprise appearance and finished fourth. It shouldn’t have been a surprise: the young Colorado rider began racing mountain bikes at age 14 and switched to the road. His team allows him to race mountain bikes, as long as it does not interfere with the road.

It was Irmiger’s first Firecracker 50, but she rode it like a veteran, gapping the field on the first lap. “On the second lap, I decided I wanted to try to finish in four hours, so that’s what was driving me,” she said.

Irmiger just missed her goal, finishing in 4:06, but bringing home a stars-and-stripes jersey to match her husband’s.

2009 Marathon Championships: Irmiger crosses the line in four hours and six minutes and celebrates her first national title.

2009 Marathon Championships: Irmiger crosses the line in four hours and six minutes and celebrates her first national title.

Photo: Robbie Stout

Results:
Pro Men
1. Jeremy Horgan-Kolbelski
2. Jeremiah Bishop
3. Jay Henry
4. Peter Stetina
5. Colin Cares
6. Andy Schultz
7. Damian Calvert
8. Michael Broderick
9. Burke Swindlehurst
10. Michael McCalla

Pro Women
1. Heather Irmiger
2. Pua Sawicki
3. Gretchen Reeves
4. Krista Park
5. Heather Holmes

Photo Gallery

Results

Results:
Pro Men
1. Jeremy Horgan-Kolbelski
2. Jeremiah Bishop
3. Jay Henry
4. Peter Stetina
5. Colin Cares
6. Andy Schultz
7. Damian Calvert
8. Michael Broderick
9. Burke Swindlehurst
10. Michael McCalla

Pro Women
1. Heather Irmiger
2. Pua Sawicki
3. Gretchen Reeves
4. Krista Park
5. Heather Holmes