Nearly 400 mountain bikers put their wheels on the line on Selkirk High Street last weekend for a mountain bike extravaganza.
The event was the Selkirk MTB Marathon which also incorporated the British MTB Marathon Championships which brought the star names of the sport out in force, including ex-Olympians Oli Beckingsale and Nick Craig, pro-riders Rob Friel, Lee Williams, Dan Fleeman and Ben Thomas, and also 3-Peaks Cyclocross and Fell Racing legend Rob Jebb.
The women’s field was equally strong with several ex-British Champions and pro-riders including Sally Bigham, Melanie Alexander and Jane Nuessli, plus up-and-coming Scottish star, Kerry MacPhee.
There were big changes in the long-established event for 2013. It was taken over by Selkirk residents Paul McGreal of Durty Events, and Peter Laing when the previous organiser backed out. Both felt that is was too good a course and too important an event for the Borders to lose. Laing told TheSouthern: “We really wanted to showcase the incredible trails that the Borders has. We aimed to add new sections to keep it fresh, and to produce a challenging but achievable course that everyone would enjoy – I reckon we managed it.”
The event kicked off in the centre of the town, before moving out onto the trails hills above the Yarrow and Tweed Valleys. Course options of 25km, 50km and the Championships 80km meant a range of abilities were catered for.
First rider back, and therefore the new British Champion was Neal Crampton (Torq Performance) in 3hrs 42 mins for the 80km race. Neal has been achieving solid results for several years – winning the famous red, white and blue-striped jersey of British Champ was a big break-through. Neal was closely followed by Rob Friel (Santa Cruz) and Oli Beckingsale (Endura MTB Racing).
In the women’s race, Sally Bigham (Topeak Ergon Racing Team) came home in an incredible 3:49, just seven minutes behind the overall winner, and with a lead of nearly 30 minutes over second placed Jane Nuessli (Fischer-BMC). Catherine Williamson (Team Bizhub) completed the podium.
However, Scottish rider Kerry MacPhee pushed Catherine all the way to come fourth.
Race organiser Paul McGreal of Durty Events told us: “We’re really grateful to the people of Selkirk, our sponsors, and to Scottish Borders Council for their support. We wanted the whole thing to feel relaxed, and have a more 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.”
The races were supported by a new event on the High Street the previous evening organised by Selkirk Chamber of Trade. Hundreds of people came out to enjoy the Pump Track, Bike Stunts and Roller Racing.