Saturday saw the first round of the Kielder Mountain Marathon series. At 50km, this was always going to be a tough race, however course changes brought about some interesting results.
With only three representatives from Durham-AURA, the race was more about testing legs than anything else. Kat Broadbent was racing in category B, along with the previous winner of last year’s series. Despite being her first event of this kind, Kat had a great first lap. However during the second lap she stacked it on a rock drop, and came down hard on her head. Unfortunately (although probably the best decision) the race marshals decided to pull Kat out. For Kat however this was sufficient to at least take something good away from the event, as the route was far more technical than expected, and she was coping well.
The course itself was a mixture of red and black trails, with some pretty difficult rock gardens to negotiate, which resulted in a few riders opting to run through these sections. Each lap, the riders had to endure some steep ascents up technical trails, followed by long slogs on fire roads. These were interspersed with snippets of great technical descent, but what goes down must invariably go back up. The latter section was almost all fire road, which included some large loose rocks. Most riders suffered pinch punctures at some point, however a canny (or rather lucky) descision by Matt Wilson to run a high tyre pressure paid off, and he rode puncture free all race.
In the category A men’s race were Alex Bedwell and Matt Wilson. Unfortunately Alex also suffered from a crash related injury and had to retire, leaving Matt to slog on. A severe lack of motivation, played its part in causing Matt to lose lots of time in the first lap. The second lap was started in a better, more determined mood, however this was short lived, as he then stacked it round a switchback, suffering a knee injury. As the adrenaline kicked in, this minor injury could be ignored and he was soon back on the bike. After a faster second lap, the third saw the onset of cramp, and the last painful 30 minutes were spent riding through it.
Overall, the race was carnage. The turnout is never high for the first round, and this year was no exception. 40 riders started, and only 25 finished. Matt rolled in at 20th, in the exact same position as last year within his class. So overall not an overly successful race, however, the racing season is only just beginning…