National MTB Marathon Championships

Selkirk in the Scottish Boarders is a fitting location for a National Marathon Championships. Located just south of Peebles, a mountain biking Mecca, it’s surrounded by epic scenery and is home to two world-class mountain bike trail centres at Glentress and Innerleithen, as well as a host of natural trails…

In previous years, the National Marathon Championships has been run on a multi-lap format, however this year with a new organiser running the race alongside the popular TORQ-sponsored Chain Reaction Cycle Marathon Series, the event was brought to Scotland where access laws allow for racing on bridleways. This meant that a single lap race could be held, much to the excitement of the riders.

The course was a true test of fitness and technical skills, boasting close to 3000 meters of climbing over an 85km course, packed with demanding singletrack trails and consisting of 3 major climbs and descents, including the renowned red descent of the Innerleithen trail. This left riders with plenty to look forward to with the added benefit of never covering the same ground twice.

The prospect of an epic day on the trails with a chance to take home a National Champs jersey saw the team out in force with Lee Westwood, Neil Hayward and Ben Price all racing for the Senior title along with TORQ Director Matt Hart and Lydia Gould, both gunning for a good result in the Vets categories.

Despite the rain in the days running up to the event, the sun was out on race day and the trails were relatively dry. In fact the weather was gorgeous (hard to imagine at the moment) with cloudless skies and a cool 15 degrees C max temperature for the day. The race got underway with a neutralised start on a section of tarmac, shortly followed by a massive climb, which quickly saw the field strung out. With the extremely high quality field battling for the title, the pace soon ramped-up and the leaders started to pull away. Lee Westwood got himself up to the front group of the race where he stayed for the first 50km of the race, but after suffering from a stomach bug in the week leading up to the event, he suffered from the early pace and dropped backward toward the end. After a slow start Ben and Neil worked their way through the field relying on good fuelling and pacing to reel riders back in who had set off too fast.

After just over 3 hours, Lee Williams (Wiggle) was the first rider home shortly followed by TORQ-fuelled Nick Craig in second. Although old enough to race in the Vets category, Nick opted for the senior category because of his pedigree and narrowly missed out on the title by a mere 7 seconds after 3 hours and 20 minutes of racing – an exceptional result. The first TORQ Performance rider home was Ben Price in 16th, shortly followed by Neil Hayward and Lee Westwood. In the Vets category TORQ-fuelled Alex Glasgow came home to take the title completing his first race in 2 years! Matt Hart come home shortly afterward having suffered a lngthy mechanical earlier in the race.

By far the highlight of the weekend was TORQ Performance rider, Lydia Gould’s performance. Lydia, TORQ’s female endurance specialist came home to take 1st in the female Vets category and won the National title and jersey! An excellent ride and another national title to add to her long list. Lydia is hoping to add another title to her collection at the National XC champs later this year.

Thank you to Jon Brooke for the pictures.

Once again a huge thank you to all of our sponsors this year: – Frames – Drivetrain & Brakes – Helmets – Handlebars, Stems, Saddles, Seatposts & Grips – Team PR – Tyres – Pumps, Tools and Bottle Cages – Performance Cycle Clothing – SR Suntour Suspension Forks – Advanced Lighting – Lubrication – Shoes – Cables & Housing – Pedals – KCNC Skewers & Bottom Brackets – Spokes – Wheel Builder – Photography – Power Measurement and Turbo Training – Tyre Sealant, Rims & Hubs – Casual Clothing

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