Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kaufmann Nabs Second at Nationals

Sarah Kaufmann, a 1999 graduate of Mohawk Trail Regional High School, placed second this weekend in the National Championships of 24-hour mountain biking. The race, held on the Behind the Rocks Trail in Moab, UT, began on Saturday at noon and continued past midday on Sunday. During that time, Kaufmann, 28, completed 13 laps of a 15-mile course, riding a total of 195 miles over the rolling, rock-strewn terrain. Competing in the Women's Solo category, Kaufmann bested ten other racers, including four-time national champion Pua Sawicki and the defending champion of this particular course, Jari Kirkland.

In 24-hour races, competitors battle extreme fatigue and come up against the whole range of athletic pain. This race was no exception for Kaufmann. After 16 hours of racing, she was fighting debilitating stomach pain and, at times, blurry vision. Trailing by only a few minutes at four o'clock in the morning, her bike lights failed, leaving her riding through the desert night by the light of the moon. But as she did last year when she finished third at Nationals, Kaufmann persevered and completed four more laps. Her final turn around the course, which ended 23 hours and 30 minutes after she began pedaling, secured her the second step on the podium, behind only Eszter Horanyi, an adventure racer from Boulder, Colorado.

The Moab course challenges racers with its steep buttes and soft sand. Its dips and curves were too much for a slew of riders to withstand. But Kaufmann, a former Buckland resident, withstood the challenge. Subsisting on a diet of energy powder, bad coffee, oatmeal, and dried fruit, she crashed only twice en route to her silver medal. She also outlasted all but a few of the fifty male solo racers, winning $300 for the feat (or, $12.50 for every hour of riding).

"It was hard out there," said Kaufmann, who was riding in her ninth such competition. "But it was a great race for me." By the end of that great race, though, she was left her with wobbly legs and a mud-crusted face. But somehow, though hobbled, she was still laughing.

"I'm just so glad this race is over," she said.

1 comment:

David Grover said...

Dave, sorry we didn't make it down after all. I guess that puts all the more excitement towards Denver. See you at the Game Night.