With just under a month until the Endurance Series kicks off again after a summer break, it’s time for a quick round-up of the series so far: the runners and riders competing to be the Endurance Series champions and pick up the £300 cash prizes to be awarded after the final three rounds.
The Endurance Series is new for 2012 and sees the collaboration of a number of experienced event organisers to combine some of the most popular and well-known mountain bike events in the country to produce the first-ever endurance champion.
The Altura Whinlatter Mountain Bike Challenge started things off back in March with some fierce racing at the shortest round of the series. Though a mere 30 miles, the hilly Lake District course provided close racing between some well-known endurance racing names.
By the halfway point it was a three horse race with Neil Crampton (Crosstrax), Rich Rothwell (M Steels Cycles/Exposure) and Greig Brown (Dooleys-cycles.co.uk) fighting hard in the unseasonably warm sunshine. Crampton hung on and was awarded 100 points to make him the first Endurance Series leader.
In the women’s race Helen Jackson managed to increase her comfortable lead on the second lap while Sally Ozanne also pulled away from third. Age and experience ultimately won out on the challenging terrain as singlespeeder Sandra Scally lost out to Jo Cardwell, losing a couple of minutes over the last lap. Full results and a race report are available on www.whinlatterchallenge.co.uk
A few weeks later the series moved onto the longest event, 12 and 24 Hours of Exposure in Newcastleton, Scotland. Many of the top endurance specialists in the UK raced hard in the changeable conditions for the UK and European Solo Championship titles on offer.
In the 12-hour race elite cross-country rider Maddie Horton (Certini-McCaulays) looked comfortable throughout the race leading from the start. Rookie rider Iwona Szmyd (VC10/Lite Option) took second with a one lap lead over third placed Jane Chadwick (Dirtwheels Cycles). Fourth placed Kirsty Forrester picked up 94 points to put her second in the series after a good finish at round one. Series leader Helen Jackson finished fifth to keep her place at the top of the table.
In the men’s race both categories went down to the wire with Dave Powell (Team JMC/Titus/On-One) winning the open category just four minutes ahead of Matt Page (Team Wiggle.) Old friends and rivals Ant White (Cannondale MT ZOOM Racing) and Rich Rothwell pushed each other hard. In the end White won by 13 minutes but Rothwell took the series lead with another second place and an excellent show of his versatility as a rider.
It was rookie rider Rachel Sokal (Cotic/AQR Holidays) taking the honours in the 24-hour race from veteran Emma Cutler. In the men’s race Huw Thomas (Niners/Stans/Ergon UK) made the successful step up as last year’s 12-hour rookie winner to take the overall European 24-hour solo title; his closest rival being the reigning veteran 24-hour champion Mark Spratt (Cardiff Jif/Cyclopedia), who led his category comfortably from the start. Second placed veteran Jason Hynd (MTB Guisborough/Bikescene) rode well to score enough points to put him into second in the series with a total of 163 points from the first two rounds. Another solid performance from Andrew Howett (SWCC/MT Zoom/
Bikefood) put him inside the top 30 overall and a total of 141 points in the series. Again, you can find a full race report and results on www.24hoursolo.co.uk
The Gorrick Exposure 100, round three of the Endurance Series 2012, took place after a week of rain, but the course prep team defied this to produce a superb, flowing, almost dry 10-mile course that produced some amazing racing. A large number did turn out, keen to challenge themselves and claim their finisher’s medal, but those who stayed away because of the weather will be kicking themselves now.
Ben Thomas (Mountain Trax) had put in some serious training and was determined to retain his seven-lap crown from last year, but there were some very strong contenders lining up with him. Within 10 minutes from the start there was a lead group of four which included Tim Dunford (Cannondale Racing), Jamie Newall (Phil Corley Cycles), George Budd (Salsa Factory Racing). Behind that group Ant White (Cannondale MT Zoom Racing), Josh Ibbett (USE/Santa Cruz Bicycles/The North Face), and Jay Horton (Certini-McCauleys) kept up the pressure.
Thomas and Budd set a blistering pace and managed to split the lead group so that by the crucial sixth lap Budd was hurting and no longer able to assist by doing any work on the front in the wind. From this point on Thomas pushed ahead while Budd managed to hold off Dunford, who was still chasing in third.
Having been placed inside the top 30 in all three events so far, a consistent Andrew Howett (SWCC/Mt Zoom/Bikefood) now leads the men’s series. Rich Rothwell (M Steels Cycles/Engima) holds onto second despite not competing in round three while Ant White, Jay Horton and Szabi Bandli (Endura/NavFree racing) round out the top five series places with top ten finishes at the third round.
Over in the women’s race Maddie Horton (Certini-McCauleys) set a fast pace throughout, eventually finishing over 50 minutes ahead of Amanda Brooks (Ellsworth Haven) and Hanneke Van der Werf (Jewson/MI Racing/Qoroz). This meant that with two wins under her belt Horton is now leading the women’s series ahead of Helen Jackson (Planetfear.com) and Kirsty Forrester (Cheeky Dior XT), who didn’t race in the third event. Full results for the Gorrick Exposure 100 are available now at www.gorrick.com.
So with three races left and another 300 points on offer it’s still an open series with any number of riders looking likely to take the top spot. Places for the remaining rounds – Brighton Big Dog, Gorrick 12:12 Torq In Your Sleep and the Montane Kielder 100 – are filling up fast so make sure you get your entry in quickly. For more information about the series and any of the events mentioned visit www.endurance-series.co.uk
(All photos courtesy of JoolzeDymond.com)