Summer Polaris - report

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1300 competitors from all over the world – Israel, South Africa,
Australia, New Zealand – gathered on the picturesque outskirts of Kildale Village
in the North York Moors. There was a veritable army of mountain bikers camped out
for last weekend’s Summer Polaris; one of the worlds largest and toughest, mountain
biking events.

The riders had to navigate their way over an area of 500 square miles of difficult
cross country terrain, collecting points by visiting as many of the 25 checkpoints
as possible within strict time limits. The furthest and most difficult checkpoints
reaping the highest scores making navigational skills and strategy as vital as physical
fitness. All these ingredients add up to confirm the Polaris Challenge as one of
the toughest 2 day mountain biking events in the world.

Whilst billed as a tough, endurance event, the number of teams entering simply to
be a part of the unique atmosphere of fun and camaraderie, continues to grow. Categories
included parent and offspring, mixed, solo, ladies vets and even Super Vets; all
helping to ensure that the Polaris events are continually oversubscribed.

As the rain pelted down at the end of the first day, the spirits of the competitors
crammed into the central event marquee remained high. Fuelled by the bar, trade stands,
and the 7 piece R+B band, the party atmosphere and entertainment continued well into
the night.

Despite the difficulty of the event, casualties were very few and far between. A
broken collar bone and a few scratches and bruises were the sum total of the weekend.
But with plenty of qualified first-aiders on standby all were patched up and well
looked after. A special mention for Geoff Eldridge, a marshal of long-standing, who
recently received an MBE means that Polaris now has decorated support for its competitors!

With the evening entertainment in full swing it was easy to forget that this was
a competitive event with a great deal of prizes on offer, care of event sponsors
9feet.com and Polaris. Favourites to pick up the three event series prize of a trip
to the Polaris world championships, to be held in the USA next year, were Aiden Lehup
and Alan Sheldon riding the new Whyte designed bike the PRST-1. As 5 time UK winners
and 2000 world champions, it was a brave punter who would bet against them picking
up trophy number 6. But with a first day total of 350 points, just 10 points clear
of their nearest competitors Andy and Steve heading, Sunday’s finish was always going
to be a tense one. With split start times, the final outcome could not be revealed
until the organisers had totted up all the points. By 4:30pm Sunday the results were
finally announced, ending a tense wait for those riders in the running. Aiden and
Alan picked up their 6th win with total of 610 points; a lead of 30 points over the
2nd placed team consisting of the brother partnership of Steve and Andy Heading.

Other category winners included

Seniors: Andy Heading + Steve heading 580 points

Vets : Alan Sheldon + Aiden Lehup 610 points

Mixed : Jennie Brierley + Andy Brierley 400 points

Ladies : Liz Cowell 427 points

Parent and offspring: Bob Grieve + Christopher Grieve 400 points

Super Vets: Phil Cheek + 400 points

Mixed Vets: Gary Baum + Jane Meeks 357 points

Mixed Super Vets: Tony Vangrove + Sheila Davison 240 points

FULL RESULTS ONLINE HERE LATER

The next Challenge will be the Autumn Polaris, to be held in the South West of England,
on the 14/15th October.

Special thanks to event sponsors 9feet.com ltd and Polaris Apparel Ltd for their
support and provision of the extensive prize list.

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