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Single-minded victory

Greg Jancaitis races down the trails at the base of Mount Washington at the 14th annual 24 Hours of Great Glen Aug. 8-9 in Pinkham Notch. Jancaitis claimed the overall title, covering 207 1⁄2 miles in 24 hours, 4 minutes, 6 seconds in the mountain bike endurance test. Charlie Lentz. (click for larger version)
August 12, 2009
PINKHAM NOTCH—Greg Jancaitis rode solo at the 24 Hours of Great Glen. But this year's race was more solitary than ever. For the first time, Jim Jancaitis wasn't there to root on his son during this mountain bike endurance test.

Jim lost a 20-year battle to Multiple Sclerosis earlier this year. Greg finally broke the 200-mile barrier at Great Glen. His father was in his thoughts on the trails of the Aug. 8-9 event at the base of Mt. Washington.

"I've had those things on my mind throughout all my races and all my training. That's always weighed in, and it was one of those things at this race at well," said Jancaitis, 26. "Every now and then that pops in your head, particularly for this race, knowing that I'd finally hit a personal goal of mine, ride 200 miles. Just thinking about how proud he would have been. That was kind of the driving motivation there."

En route to the overall title in the 14th annual event, Jancaitis surpassed his mileage goal by completing 25 laps (207 1⁄2 miles) in 24 hours, 4 minutes, 6 seconds. Jancaitis lives in Gorham, Maine but competes for the Littleton Landsharks. Jancaitis is a Waterford, Vt. native and is a former employee at Littleton Bike & Fitness.

It was Jancaitis's third overall solo title. He rode a more aggressive race than in previous victories.

"I actually changed how approached the race this year. Normally I get into these races and I ride my pace," Jancaitis said. "This race I actually came in and rode toward the front of the field, marked guys who I thought were going to be contenders and tried to keep pace with them. Went more on the attack. Going at a quicker tempo from the beginning seemed like it was going to work."

No one finished within 30 miles of Jancaitis. Fellow Landshark Will McGandy completed 21 laps (173 1/3 miles) in 24:02:09 to take second place. Landshark Nick Ebinger was third overall, finishing 21 laps in 24:23:43.

Jancaitis was married just one week before the race. His wife, Jackie, and his father-in-law, Don Stohl, helped out in the pits.

"Without a support crew like that this stuff just doesn't happen," said Jancaitis.

Jancaitis didn't sleep during the 24-hour race. He prefers short breaks while Jackie provides a fresh water bottle and food.

"I was awake the whole time. Probably no more than taking five minutes each lap, particularly in the nighttime. Because if you just sat around too long then you'd start to get really cold," Jancaitis said.

The toughest part is staying awake late into the evening as Saturday night turns into early Sunday morning.

"Middle of the night, and late morning from 2 to 5, that was the toughest," Jancaitis said. "I knew by that point that I had a lead. I didn't really have someone breathing down my neck, pushing me."

Jancaitis built a quick lead after the noon start on Aug. 8. "I did that for about the first five hours, then I realized I was doing a pace for far too many miles that I know I'm capable of," Jancaitis said. "At that point I dialed it down and settled into a rhythm."

Several racers representing the Littleton Landsharks and Littleton Bike & Fitness also did well at Great Glen.

Jaz Dowling, 15, won the men's 18 years and under solo division, completing 11 laps (91.3 miles) in 24:02:27. Brett St. Clair won the men's 50-and-under solo division with 16 laps (132 miles) in 24:05:55.

In the two-man, single-gear (double-single) division, Landsharks Edwin Mason and Jamie Myers finished third, cycling 20 laps (166 miles) in 12:16:34.

Jancaitis said his third crown here was perhaps the truest test he's had on the Great Glen trails. He won in 2003 and again last year, but soggy conditions both put an asterisk on those wins.

The trails were in good shape this year and his dominance was finally cut and dry.

"I would say this is my most significant one yet, (2003) had six inches of rain that fell. And then last year there was so much rain leading up to it that the course was just a mud bog," Jancaitis said. "It was redeeming to me to know I got onto a dry course. We were able to ride competitively. It really came to who was the better rider, not only who was going to outlast the conditions."

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