Fort Wil­liam hosts top UK 24-hour marathon

The Oban Times - - SPORT -

FORT Wil­liam’s No Fuss Events hosted the UK 24-hour Moun­tain Bike Cham­pi­onships as part of their Re­lent­less Ex­po­sure 24 event at Ne­vis Range. Matthew Jones is the new Bri­tish cham­pion, cov­er­ing 29 laps of the 11km course of flow­ing sin­gle-track on a mix­ture of man-made and nat­u­ral trails com­bined with some stinger climbs.

Hav­ing pushed the bound­aries of the UK’s 24-hour moun­tain bike rac­ing scene with the World En­durance Moun­tain Bike Or­gan­i­sa­tion Cham­pi­onships in 2014, Re­lent­less 24 has show­cased some of the most ex­cit­ing en­durance rac­ing in Scot­land and, look­ing at the start list, there was no doubt the 2016 event, on Oc­to­ber 29 and 30, was go­ing to be a thriller.

The event at­tracted the crème de la crème of the UK’s moun­tain bike en­durance tal­ent and, with a field of al­most 100 solo rid­ers, it is clear in­ter­est in 24-hour rac­ing in the coun­try is alive and kick­ing.

The Out­door Cap­i­tal of the UK – Fort Wil­liam and Lochaber – and the rid­ing at Ne­vis Range has a world-renowned rep­u­ta­tion and with the re­cent an­nounce­ment that No Fuss would again host the World 24-Hours Cham­pi­onships in 2018, rid­ers knew claim­ing the 2016 Bri­tish crown would be the per­fect line in the sand.

The at­mos­phere on Satur­day morn­ing was amaz­ing. Rid­ers were clearly ex­cited by the course choice, one more than wor­thy of the cham­pi­onship sta­tus.

The fact that ev­ery rider had track­side pits and that the weather gods ap­peared to be play­ing ball meant there was time to con­cen­trate on the finer de­tails, in­clud­ing tyre choices and nu­tri­tion plans.

For the top rid­ers, the 11km course of tough ter­rain, flow­ing sin­gle-track on a mix­ture of man-made and nat­u­ral trails and stinger climbs was all that lay be­tween them and the cov­eted UK cham­pi­onship jer­seys. That and the fact they had to com­plete 24 hours on their bike.

It was clear from the out­set rac­ing was go­ing to be fierce and at the four-hour stage of the race there was a lit­tle over four min­utes sep­a­rat­ing the top 10 rid­ers.

At eight hours, that was ex­tended to a very close 15 min­utes.

There were whis­per­ings of con­cerns around the pit area ‘they’ll never sus­tain this’ and ‘ who is go­ing to crack first’.

Matthew Jones, Michael McCutcheon and Peter Nadin were the even­tual top three so­los, with Matthew com­plet­ing 29 laps in a time of 24 hours and 10 min­utes. Michael was 15 min­utes be­hind af­ter an as­ton­ish­ing 29 laps, a lit­tle un­der the 200-mile mark.

In the ladies’ race, Lee Craigie and Sally Buck­worth tus­sled all day and night with Lee tak­ing the vic­tory with a cred­itable 23 laps.

In the team cat­e­gories, it was Ste­fan Macina and Bob Addey from Aure­lius Cy­cles who took the men’s pairs with 32 laps and the girls from Sandy Wal­lace Cy­cles tak­ing the win with 23 laps.

The quads and the eights cat­e­gories were dom­i­nated by the boys and girls from Dunoon with the Ben­more win­ning the eights and Team Pin it Ya Fairy tak­ing the fours with a mon­strous 32 laps.

Russ Baker one of the WEMBO or­gan­is­ers and pres­i­dent of Moun­tain Bike Aus­tralia, was at the event over the week­end and is look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing to the Out­door Cap­i­tal in 2018 for the World So­los Cham­pi­onship.

Frazer Cou­p­land from No Fuss Events said: ‘The stan­dard of rac­ing over the week­end has been ex­cep­tional.

‘ We have been de­lighted with the num­bers who at­tended and as usual the team at Ne­vis range are a plea­sure to work with.’

Next year’s Re­lent­less Ex­po­sure 24 is sched­uled for the week­end of Oc­to­ber 28 and 29.

Pho­to­graph: Paddy Cuth­bert at lit­tle­house­me­dia

Ac­tion from the UK 24-hour moun­tain bik­ing cham­pi­onships in Fort Wil­liam.

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