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NORBA # 7 – Mountiain Cross and Marathon

August 20, 2005-The seventh round of the 2005 Shimano NORBA National Mountain Bike Series is underway at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in central West Virginia where Australian gravity riders Mick Hannah and Katrina Miller rode to wins in the mountain cross race and Chris Eatough (Ellicott City, Md.) and Monique Sawicki (Calimesa, Calif.) officially closed out the ’05 marathon season with overall NORBA National Series titles.

On Friday, Brian Schmith (Lancaster, Pa.) came within a whisker of his first pro NORBA national win after taking an early lead in the final heat ahead of the top-seeded Hannah, Ross Milan (Arvada, Colo.) and Jared Graves (AUS). Schmith held an advantage for most of the run before being overtaken on the line by Hannah.

Milan and Graves crashed early in the run taking themselves out of contention for the win and finished third and fourth respectively.

In the consolation round, Christopher Herndon (Etowah, N.C.) won the 5-8 final to round out the top five. In the women’s mountain cross final, Miller bested reigning U.S. National Champion Tara Llanes (Los Alamitos, Calif.), current series leader Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.) and Karen Eagan (Lowell, Mass.) to give Australia a sweep of the mountain cross events.

Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.) took fifth place with a win in the consolation round.

Current series leaders entering the event, Graves and Buhl retained their overall leads in the men’s and women’s mountain cross standings thanks to their solid performances on Saturday.

In the men’s marathon, Eatough took advantage of the absence of the only threat to his overall lead to capture the 2005 NORBA National Mountain Bike Series Marathon title with a second-place finish in the 48-mile race.

Heading into the seventh and final round, Eatough held a slim 13-point lead over Jay Henry (Avon, Colo.), but with Henry opting to compete at this weekend’s UCI Marathon World Championships in Lillehammer, Norway on Saturday, Eatough had already clinched the overall title.

On Thursday, Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va.) took the win, completing the course in 3 hours, 55 minutes and 30.34 seconds and crossing the line just 18 seconds ahead of Eatough.

Eatough and Bishop were clearly the strongest competitors in the race with the third-place finisher, Robert Lichtenwalner (Nazareth, Pa.), 47 minutes off the winning pace.

Eatough captured the overall series championship with 1141 points while Henry held his second-place standing with 956 points. Michael Janelle (Avon, Colo.) rounded out the overall podium with 729 points.

Bishop ended the marathon season with three individual wins, the most of any rider in the series, capturing victories at the season opener in March in Boerne, Texas and the final two stops in Brian Head, Utah and Snowshoe in August.

Sawicki entered Snowshoe with an insurmountable 839-466 lead over Shannon Gibson (El Paso, Texas) in the women’s overall standings and closed out the 2005 season with a victory in Snowshoe and the overall NORBA National title.

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