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Army team tackle Transrockies

Sgt Mark Banham and Cpl Pete Sutton: Not nervous at all

The annual TransRockies stage race (7-13 August 2005) is, by any measure, a biggie. Seven days, 600km (375miles), 12,000 vertical metres (39,000ft) of climbing, all set in the spectacular Canadian Rockies.

One of the 300 or so teams competing this year will be Sgt Mark Banham and Cpl Pete Sutton of 59 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers (or 59 Ind Cdo Sqn RE if you’re in a hurry). The pair has been representing the Army in events like the Merida MTB Marathons and Trek 6-4-2 Enduros for a while, but this is going to be another level. Mark and Pete describe it as an “unusual opportunity”, and extend their thanks to the boss, Major Jim Weeden, for letting them go and do it.

They’ve got two aims – represent the Army and Royal Engineers, and finish. And raise money for charity. OK, three aims. The charities in question are the North Devon Cancer Care Trust and the Army Benevolent Fund – if you’d like to make a donation you can contact Mark on markcdo@aol.com.

Preparation sounds like it’s going pretty well, with plenty of long rides going on. The team has also had three separate weeks in Wales riding Welsh mountains for several hours a day, and they’ll be off to Canada a fortnight before the race just to check out how much bigger the Canadian mountains are…

A bunch of sponsors have lightened the financial load, with construction firm Mabey Group and builder’s merchant Jewson stumping up cash and USE sorting out components, service and spares. Also helping out are Freestyle Sports, Goodridge, Continental and High 5. Special mention to Southfork Cycles of Braunton, Devon, who’ve been sorting out Mark and Pete’s bikes for nowt.

And why are we telling you all this? Well, mainly because it’s a deserving cause, but partially because Mark and Pete will be our race reporters for 2005. If technology permits we’ll get updates as they’re going along, but either way we’ll have the full story on their return.

Fancy a go? There’s still time to enter Race Face’s Ultimate XC Challenge, with the chance to win an all-expenses-paid TransRockies entry. Find out more about the race at www.transrockies.com.

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