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Merida Brass Monkeys: Report from Tunnel Hill

16:00 22nd December 2011 by David Arthur @davearthur
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With entries selling out in record time for the second 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 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, and 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 the fast riding Tim Dunford. He tapped out seven laps that saw him take the win with 4 hrs and 37 mins of racing in his legs, a clear lap ahead of fastest rival Daniel Howe. A similar theme was being played out in the 4 hour women’s race with Jo Mundon dominating the race racking up 6 laps, her last started just before the 4 hour cut off, giving her a one lap lead over runner up Leona Kadir.

Viv Hazelton’s winning 5 laps in the women’s vets 4 hour race would have been enough to take third in the senior women’s race. In the men’s vet 4 hour race it was seasoned enduro rider Anthony White who snapped up the win with six laps completed just over the 4 hour mark, the first of nine vet riders completing six solid laps.

While the 4 hour 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 in his race clocking up two 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 steadfastly hovering near the freezing mark, meaning the 2 hour 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 its 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 three, leaving Bouttill a great chance to shake the strong rider off his tail, taking the win with four laps. Budd chased hard, but the damage had been done and he had to be content with second.

Louise Robinson found herself tussling for position in the 2 hour 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 second position.  Junior Martin Turton led six riders on a three lap race, with Turton taking the win just ahead of William Spiers.

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

Round three is on 22 January

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 three at www.gorrick.com

Full event gallery www.joolzedymond.com