There’ll be plenty of this at Fort William’s Downhill Endurance
And quite a lot of this, too
Downhill-tinged endurance events aren’t a new idea – things like the Megavalanche and Passeportes du Soleil have been going on for years on that there continental Europe, and here in the UK we’ve had events like the Avalanche Enduro. But the Fort William Downhill Endurance is something a bit different.
The Nevis Range near Fort William is, of course, home to the famous World Cup (and Championship) downhill course, the UK’s only gondola-served track. Downhill Endurance, to be held on Sunday 7 September 2008, will have six hours to negotiate the 2.8km course as many times as they can. Every run will be times, with cumulative times deciding the results where riders have completed an equal number of runs.
As if that doesn’t sound hard enough, at the bottom of the course will be a closed pit area which will be the only place you can go to deal with any mechanicals that may arise. You’ll only be allowed to use one bike and there’ll be time penalties for riders who have to change wheels, forks, bars, frames and other major components. So the event will be as much about keeping your bike in one piece as it will be about avoiding the shrapnel from your exploding arms on your sixth run. There’ll be time penalties for riders who have to change wheels, forks, bars, frames and other major components.
The organisers (No Fuss Events, also responsible for the popular 10 Under series and Relentless 24) reckon that “in excess of 12 runs” is possible. We reckon that’d be going some, given that a world-class run is just under five minutes and the gondola takes about 15 to get you back up to the top. Add in lift queues, running repairs and that annoying gap between the top gondola station and the start hut and reliably getting in sub-30 minute laps starts to look like a big ask. But it’d be no fun if it were easy…
Lochaber College UHI has signed up as title sponsor and will host registration and pre-event stuff on Saturday evening. If that seems like an odd choice of sponsor, think again – perhaps unsurprisingly for a college near Fort William, Lochaber runs a popular BA Adventure Tourism Management course and an event like this certainly involves a lot of that.
Dan Morgan, Head of Adventure Tourism at Lochaber College UHI, said: “The Fort William Downhill Endurance is the perfect event for us to get behind. It is radically different and exciting. Working with No Fuss Events on this unique and challenging event offers the College and our students on the BA Adventure Tourism Management course an exclusive and rare opportunity to learn about major, world-class outdoor events allowing them the chance to engage with industry and top athletes at a premier location from the very start of their course. The ability to get involved with an event of this nature and at this level is exactly how a degree of this kind benefits from being based in Fort William, the Outdoor Capital of the UK.”
And in case you’re wondering how the start will work, given the rather significant bottleneck that a gondola ride entails, here’s the (possibly rather unwelcome) answer. There’ll be a Le Mans-style mass start, with riders running to the tech area, picking up bikes and then riding them uphill to Tower Nine (roughly a quarter of the way up the gondola). From there they’ll join the course back to the bottom and get on the gondola.
Never experienced the Nevis Range DH track? Grab a load of this video from Freecaster.tv to get an idea of what awaits – this is Matti Lehikoinen doing a 5:20 practice run:
Now imagine doing that repeatedly for six hours. Still tempted? Head to www.nofussevents.co.uk.