Marathon moves afoot

L-r, Peter Laing and Paul McGreal in Selkirk who are creating a new mountain bike competition.
L-r, Peter Laing and Paul McGreal in Selkirk who are creating a new mountain bike competition.

WHEN Selkirk duo Paul McGreal and Peter Laing heard back in December that organisers of the popular Merida (CRC) Mountain Bike Marathon were cancelling the annual event in and around the Royal Burgh they were most certainly not amused.

Paul being Paul, however, was not just going to stand around and bemoan the loss. And, after discussing the matter with local course designer Peter, the two biking enthusiasts have now teamed up with the intention of staging a similar event in June.

Taking up the story Paul told The Wee Paper: “The original organiser, from Wales, announced shortly before Christmas that he had cancelled the 2013 event.

“As a local resident and cyclist, I thought this was unfortunate. I also think that it’s an important event for Selkirk and the Borders in terms of economic impact and profile, and it needs to continue.

“So I teamed up with fellow Selkirk resident and cyclist Peter, who has been the course designer for the event for the last 10 years, to organise it.

“We hope this will allow the event to thrive and start to grow again, particularly as it now has the opportunity to become a fully Borders-focused event rooted entirely within the community.”

Formerly known as the Merida Mountain Bike Marathon and more recently the CRC, the event came to Selkirk in 2005. It used to take place in August, but recently moved to May and used Selkirk Rugby Club as its base camp. At its height, it attracted around 1,500 cyclists plus an unknown amount of friends, family and supporters to the town, many of whom stayed for at least one night in the area.

Paul, who heads up the Selkirk based Durty Events team and Peter, designer of several of the world-famous 7 Stanes trails, have had to move quickly so as not to lose momentum on their project and have settled on Saturday, June 8, as the 2013 race date.

“We’ve started talking to Scottish Cycling and British Cycling about the event hosting the Scottish or British MTB Marathon Championships,” added Paul, “and Selkirk RFC have agreed to host the event again.

“We have a website ( and entries are open and coming in nicely, despite no PR/marketing work until now.

“We hope to attract around 500-600 riders this year and expect that to grow in subsequent years. We will follow it with a relaxed ‘Ride with the Locals’ set of group rides on Sunday, June 9, and will encourage as many people as possible to stay locally for the weekend.”

As well as hoping to attract some of the country’s top riders the guys hope that many of the region’s local pedallers will join in too.

“They’ll discover trails they never knew existed, and will have a tough, challenging, but achievable day out,” endorsed Paul.

The event will incorporate three fully-marked courses (approximately 25km, 50km and 75km) to suit a range of abilities and will use a mix of natural singletrack, drove roads, land-rover tracks and probably trail-centre courses as well. The day will be followed by camping, food, beers and music at the rugby club.