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The reigning kings going into the 24 Hours of Moab, which served as the 2009 24-hour National Championships, weren’t KO’d by the desert or dark, they were laid low by illness.
Defending 24-hour national champs Pua Sawicki and Chris Eatough were set to race, but Eatough, who was going to retire after Moab, didn’t start due to the flu. Sawicki started, but pulled out after 11 laps.
Eszter Horanyi was the top woman finisher, logging 13 laps. Josh Tostado recorded more laps, 17, than any other solo male, which earned him the Stars and Stripes jersey.
Sawicki, meanwhile, was not only eyeing the female champion’s jersey, but a Guinness Book of World Record attempt for the most miles ridden in 24 hours on a mountain bike by a woman.
That all started to go south as the race progressed, said her husband Ron Sawicki. As things progressed Pua started to feel that something was wrong, he said.
“She was still gaining on the chasers but much less per lap,” Ron Sawicki said. “She told her pit crew that her stomach felt bad.”
Her lead grew to about 45 minutes but body aches and vision problems increased, Ron Sawicki said.
“We pressed her to go on but feared for the worst,” he said. “She lost some of her lead and now it was only 30 minutes. She felt so sick that she could not continue. We urged her to just go to the finish line and pull out of the race.”
Topping of the disappointment of DNFing, the Sawicki camp was robbed of a 10-foot-by-10-foot tent loaned by Moab Cyclery and a 15-gallon water tank while Pua was getting medical attention.