Bikers brave the elements for Selkirk showpiece

The MTB Marathon leaves Selkirk on saturday morning
The MTB Marathon leaves Selkirk on saturday morning

Nearly 500 mountain bikers started the Selkirk MTB Marathon event on Saturday which also incorporated the British MTB Marathon Championships.

The British Champs race brought the star names of the sport out in force, including ex-Olympian Nick Craig, pro-riders Rab Wardell, Rob Friel, Lee Williams, Dan Fleeman and Ben Thomas, while the women’s field was equally strong with several ex-British Champions and pro-riders including Sally Bigham and Melanie Alexander.

After the High Street start the courses then moved out onto the trails hills above the Yarrow and Tweed Valleys, including land managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, Buccleuch Estates, Philiphaugh Estate and many more. Course options of 25km, 50km and the Championships 80km meant a range of abilities, including families were catered for.

The event is locally organised having been taken over in 2013 by Selkirk residents Paul McGreal of Durty Events, and Peter Laing when the previous organiser backed out. Both felt that it was too good a course and too important an event for the Borders to lose. Laing said: “We really wanted to showcase the incredible trails that the Borders has.

“We aimed to add new features, including popular timed ‘Enduro’ sections to keep it fresh, and to produce a challenging but achievable course that everyone would enjoy – I reckon we managed it.”

The weather and trail conditions added an additional layer of challenge – rain and hail were frequent, resulting in some very muddy sections.

First rider back, and therefore the new British Champion was ex-professional road rider Dan Fleeman (Metaltek-Kuota) in 3 hours, 44 minutes for the 80km race. In 2009 he was a member of the Cervélo TestTeam.

He won the Tour des Pyrenées in 2008 with An Post-Sean Kelly.

Dan was closely followed, only two seconds later, by Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles), and Nick Craig (Pioneer/Scott/Syncros)

In the women’s race, Sally Bigham (Topeak Ergon Racing Team) came home in an incredible 4.14, with a lead of nearly 30minutes over second placed Rickie Cotter (559 Bikes), Melanie Alexander (Contessa Scott Syncros) completed the podium.

“We’re really grateful to the people of Selkirk, our sponsors, and to Scottish Borders Council for their support,” added McGreal.

“We wanted the whole thing to feel relaxed, and have local ‘feel’.

“Judging from the comments we’ve received, and the smiles at the finish line, hundreds of cyclists and spectators enjoyed the experience, and riding their bikes on the incredible Borders trails.

“This is an event that will only get bigger and better in future years.”