Report: Merida Brass Monkeys – R2 Tunnel Hill

Words & images Joolze Dymond … With entries selling out in record time for the 2nd round of the Merida Brass Monkeys enduro, this was definitely the race to be at.

Even Jack Frost couldn’t wait to make an appearance, his chilly breath certainly adding a festive feel to this pre Christmas leg spinner! Tunnel Hill was the venue of choice, providing a smorgasbord of thrilling climbs and descents, knitted together with a web of grin inducing singletrack. A fitting work out ready for all that Christmas excess!!

With the golden low winter sun setting the scene, the 4-hour riders filtered out into the surrounding trails. For at least 10 minutes the trails were packed to the gunnels with riders jostling for position, then the trails began to flow more freely as the riders quickly dispersed, each with their own personal challenge. Out in front and determined to keep it that way was fast riding Tim Dunford.

Tapping out 7 even laps that saw him take the win with 4 hrs and 37 minutes of racing in his legs, a clear lap ahead of fastest rival Daniel Howe. A similar theme was being played out in the 4hr women’s race with Jo Mundon dominating the race racking up 6 laps, her last started just before the 4hr cut off, giving her a 1 lap lead over runner up Leona Kadir. Smooth racing, Viv Hazelton’s winning 5 laps in the women’s vets 4hr race would have been enough to take 3rd in the senior women’s race. In the men’s vet 4 hr race it was seasoned enduro rider Anthony White who snapped up the win with 6 laps completed just over the 4hr mark, the first of 9 vet riders completing 6 solid laps!

While the 4 hr riders got into their stride, one hour later the fun riders were unleashed. Fresh legs and fresh enthusiasm to keep warm and enjoy the varied and fun course abounding. Andrew Crafter took the honours his race clocking up 2 laps in 94 minutes, while Emily Wadsworth just missed out on the overall top ten as she came home in her race in just under 51 minutes.

As the clocked ticked on, the temperature stayed steadfastly hovering near the freezing mark, meaning the 2hr riders were more than keen to get their races underway! As the warm breath of riders pushing hard to hit the trails hit the cold air, you could almost believe a steam train was coming round the corner, painted in vivid colours flashing through the trees, steam cloud announcing it’s arrival!

George Budd and Jason Boutttell looked like they were out on a jolly as they chatted and raced ahead of hard chasing Craig Bowles. This friendly scene soon changed, with Budd puncturing on lap 3, leaving Bouttill a great chance to shake the strong rider off his tail, taking the win with 4laps. Budd chased hard, but the damage had been done and he had to be content with 2nd. Louise Robinson found herself tussling for position in the 2hr women’s race, but found the pace pushed by Laura Sampson a little telling, falling off the race lead on lap one, leaving Sampson to take the win, while Robinson consolidated her 2nd position.  Junior Martin Turton led 6 riders on a 3lap race, with Turton taking the win just ahead of William Spiers.

Dean Morgan flowed round the course the only 2hr vet rider to rack up 4 impressive laps to take the win ahead of Rick Fetherston who decided 3 laps were more than enough, with Anita Buxton, clocking up 3 laps in the women’s 2hr vet race, leading from the start.

If all this talk of fantastic enduro racing in the company of likeminded others has got your hungry for more, well you’re in luck. The final round of this cracking series is on the 22nd January, at Hungry Hill, Aldershot. Leaving you plenty of time for your Christmas turkey to work its way through your body! Get your entries in soon though as, places are being snapped up fast as when they’re gone they’re gone, there is no entry on the day for this full to bursting event!

Full race results and details of round 3:

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