Having attended and raced every single Bontrager 24/12 since the event kicked off 9 years ago, it was great to get along to the 10th Anniversary edition, for another good weekend of racing.
The event was held down in Newnham Park, a favourite among racers, this was the 2nd time the team had raced at the venue this season – having already made the journey down for a round of the National XC earlier in the season. As the team had entered a Men’s 12hour team and won this category for the past 9 years, the pressure was on to make it a full 10 wins. With many of our riders in flying form (off the back of the British National XC Championships), we knew we had a strong team with Alex Welburn, Chris Andrews, Lee Gratton and team manager Ben Price. For Ben this involved a temporary change from a season of Enduro racing for the Whyte Team. Alongside the Men’s team, we also had a dedicated women’s team, with Jo Cay, Jules Toone, Carla Haines and Sarah Murray – who were again all in flying form. Our endurance specialist Richard Dunnett was also there to put in a strong performance in the 12hour Solo category and he was joined by TORQ Devo rider Lydia Gould, who similarly raced in the 12hour Vets Solo category.
At 12 on Saturday (under clear blue skies after a heavy night of rain), the race got underway with Alex Welburn stamping the team’s authority on the race from the start. Alex rolled in after lap 1, a good 2 minutes ahead of 2nd place and was the 1st rider back! Jules was 1st off in the Women’s category and put in an impressive effort, not only was she the 1st Female rider back, but was inside the first 20 riders back on lap 1, which put the ladies straight into the lead too.
From lap 1 onwards, it was business as usual for the teams. They put in fast consistent laps, enjoyed every minute of their time out on course and stayed on top of their fuelling. After 12 hours without incident from either team, both teams rolled in to take the win in the 12 Hour team categories.
In the solo races, Richard Dunnett got off to a great start, where he moved straight into the lead and steadily built up a lead over the 1st 6 hours. Around the mid way point of the race, whilst going through a hard patch, Richard was overtaken by 2nd place Richard Penning of Pivot Boom Pods. Over the next few laps things weren’t looking great, as our Richard appeared to be suffering and the gap to 1st place started to grow. As night set in, the gap hadn’t really changed and the chance of pulling it back was starting to diminish. We provided Rich with regular time checks and did what we could to help him through. As 12:00 approached, despite suffering Rich really picked up the pace. With less than an hour to go to the finish, Rich had got the gap down to a mere 6 minutes! With one, possibly two laps to go the race wasn’t over. As we stood by the finish line around 12:00 Rich came flying through the arena like a man possessed, riding as fast as many of our team riders, and crossed the line with less than 2 minutes to spare. This gave Richard one more lap to close the gap down, which he now had got down to a mere 1 minute! As Rich approached a major climb for the final time in the race, he caught and overtook 2nd placed Rich Penning and moved into the lead, much to our excitement! Another 30 minutes passed and Richard rolled into the arena, a broken man, but having taken a hard earned win!
For the legendary Lydia Gould, it was business as usual and she similarly lead the race from the start. After the 12 hours, she had completed a staggering 12 laps, which was 2 laps up on 2nd place in the Solo Veteran Female category. Incredibly, her performance would also similarly have won her the 12hour Solo Female category by nearly a whole lap too!
After a great 12 hours of racing the teams came away with a clean sweep in the 12hour category, with wins in the Men’s and Women’s Teams and Men’s and Women’s Solos! To top off a great weekend, Chris Andrews and Jo Clay also set the fastest times on the race’s dedicated Strava sections.
Thank you to Kevin Sheldrake for the first image in this report and to Dave Hayward for the podium shots.
As always, a big thank you to all the team sponsors. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do: