This Sunday history is made in British mountain biking, it is the first time a national marathon championship will be run on a single loop.
The event is being run in Selkirk in the Scottish borders as part of the Chain Reaction Marathon Series. Since the right to roam legislation came into force in Scotland it has been possible to hold races over any land and Sunday’s event is biggest opportunity so far to see what this change means. The course has been tried and tested over a number of years and runs over 85km in and round the valleys of Ettrick and Yarrow. As well as a plethora of natural trails the riders are also treated to a visit to the Seven Stanes Mountain Bike Trail Centre.
Course profile for British Marathon Champs (www.mtb-marathon.co.uk)
With both reigning senior champions not entered there will be a new holder of the titles for 2012 (Sally Bigham has team commitments which do not allow her to participate and Ollie Beckinsale is racing the XC World Cup in La Bresse, France).
In the men’s race almost anything is possible. Elite XCO racers Giles Drake (Team Elite), Ben Thomas (Ben Thomas racing), Lee Williams (Team Wiggle), Dave Henderson (GT Racing UK) and Andrew Cockburn (Derailed racing) would be worth watching. Whilst marathon specialists Tim Dunford (Cannondale), Will Hayter (London Dynamo/Marathon MTB.com), Josh Ibbett (North Face/Santa Cruz) and Neil Crampton (Crosstrax) are clearly in the running. You’d also be mad to rule out ex-pro road racer Dan Fleeman whose offroad skills have been fast improving over this 2012 season and British legend Nick Craig (Scott).
In the women’s race world number 1 marathon racer, Swiss based, Jane Nuessli is a clear favourite whilst Elite XC racers Verity Appleyard (XCracer.com) and Rachel Fenton (AWCycles.co.uk) should be up there competing hard for the title.
The 2010 veteran champions will both be in attendance to defend their titles (there was no Marathon Championships in 2011). Lydia Gould (Torq Performance) will be hard to beat barring mechanical problems but Scottish rider Anne Murray (Moray Firth CC) should push her hard and may be more at home in the terrain.
Alex Glasgow (Nevis Cycles RT/ TORQ Fitness) will surely want to reclaim the veteran men’s title on Scottish soil but he is likely to have stiff competition in the form of Richard Rothwell, Iain Nimmo (Squadra Porcini) and Ant White (Cannondale Racing). As usual expect this race to come right down to the wire!
Full results will be available on www.mtb-marathon.co.uk after the event.