Last weekend was reported to be the hottest of the year, so the 600 people that took part in the Altura Whinlatter MTB Challenge on Sunday were in for a treat with fast rolling, dusty Lake District trails.
As riders lined up the start line was full of familiar faces and the two lap event looked as if it was going to produce some good racing. Despite the long fire road climb to start the pack set off at a blistering pace with a small group of riders breaking away off the front. By half way around the 15 mile lap Dooleys Cycles rider Greig Brown had gained a slight lead over chasers Neal Crampton and Rich Rothwell.
Meanwhile Helen Jackson had a comfortable lead over second place Sally Ozanne who was holding off singlespeed rider Sandra Scally in third and veteran Jo Cardwell just behind.
The slight alteration to the start and excellent conditions meant lap times were faster than previous years and the one lap half enduro winner, Chris Goodwin, finished in 1:31:00 with second place Joe Moore almost two minutes behind and Martin Varey another two minutes back. Showing the youngsters how it’s done the veteran Team JMC rider Jacqui Simcock finished in just over two hours with a comfortable 13 minute lead over her next closest rider Jennie Lester whilst Amanda Newham and Emma Jones fought it out for third overall.
Back to the main event and Brown had given everything but was unable to drop Rothwell and Crampton, blowing just at the point the younger rider also decided to make his break leaving an in form Rothwell with too much to do to bridge the gap. Crampton (Crosstrax) completed the two laps in an incredibly fast 2:13:10 just 40 seconds ahead of Rothwell (M Steels Cycles/Exposure) and Brown (Dooleys-cycles.co.uk) hung on for third place a minute behind.
At the front of the women’s race Jacksomanaged to increase her lead on the second lap whilst Ozanne also pulled away from third. Age and experience ultimately won out in the challenging hilly terrain as singlespeeder Scally lost out to Cardwell, losing a couple of minutes over the last lap.
Full race results and photo gallery can be found at www.whinlatterchallenge.co.uk
This event marked the first of the all-new Endurance Series, making Crampton and Jackson series leaders with 100 points each.
The series now moves onto its longest event 12/24 Hours of Exposure on 7th April at Newcastleton. With only a handful of riders making the jump in distance there’s sure to be a big shake up at the top of the leader board in two weeks’ time, with maybe a few surprises.