Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Rusch goes from firefighter to world champion

Wins 24 Hours of Adrenalin

Last week Ketchum part-time firefighter Rebecca Rusch was working 12-hour shifts doing structure protection and making sure people's houses didn't burn during the Castle Rock fire in the Ketchum area.

As of Sunday, however, 39-year-old adventure athlete Rusch was a world champion—Elite women's winner of the ninth annual World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin mountain bike contest at Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, Ca.

Having placed second in the same event last October at Conyers, Ga., Rusch climbed to the top of the podium among Elite Women in 2007.

Completing 16 laps Saturday and Sunday on a very challenging and steep 13.74-mile (22 kilometer) loop, Rusch outdistanced women's runner-up Lynda Wallenfels, a mother of two and two-time Scottish national mountain bike champ from Utah.

Twelve of the Elite Women completed five or more laps, but Rusch led nearly all the way in an event that featured a total cash purse of $20,000, of which $15,000 was earmarked for the Elite class athletes.

Her race number was lucky #13.

Said Rusch before the worlds, "The course is very different from the national championships four weeks ago. It has over 2,000 feet of uphill riding per lap. Just for a reference, the ski mountain at home (Baldy) is 3,000 vertical feet. The course will take its toll physically."

Beforehand, Rusch added, "There are at least five or six other women at this race who will be strong competition. The weather is expected to be very hot, but at least there is no smoke in the air like home."

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