Sunday 17th April, 2011 marked the day for the Australian XCM National Championships at the Mt Joyce Recreation Park, South East Queensland. being a championship event with Australian Champion jerseys on the line for the fastest male and fastest female, the start lists were always going to look sharp.
As the Mount Joyce Recreation Park is still being built, it is a construction site. No entry was allowed before the race – so the course was going to be ridden unseen by all competitors. In a sense, this created a level playing field between those who lived locally, and those who had traveled from further afield. But it was certainly a different situation for most. There was a chance that it would work well for those who could think on the fly, like Flight Centre-Merida rider Adrian Jackson, who is a multiple MTB Orienteering World Champion. The lap-based race was set to be three laps of about 28.5km.
The womens field headed off half an hour ahead of the mens race. Being a championship event, this is a good way to keep the fields seperate. The start of the mens race wasn’t as fast as some anticipated. All riders were riding ‘blind’, so there was some trepidation.
Marathon races are often run on less technical terrain. Due to the length of the event and the cumulative fatigue more technical terrain can pose hazards for racers as the event drags on. Even towards the end of the first lap, Elite riders such as Anthony Shippard let it hang out too far. Craig Gordon also crashed heavily early into the second lap. Soon after, a helicopter could be heard for a racer who crashed heavily after the wall ride.
The difficulty of the course took its toll on legs and heads, with other top racers such as Ben Mather and Pete Hatton (1st and 2nd at last years Championships) retiring from the race. The front of the race got pretty stretched out during the second lap, with the traffic from the half distance race. Perhaps running this event during a Championship event wasn’t the ideal solution, especially with the great lengths of singletrack preventing a group of elite riders passing back markers safely and fairly.
In lap three Jason English (Flight Centre – Merida) turned it on and rode through to the front, taking the win a few minutes in front of Andrew Blair (Swell-Redshift) and Shaun Lewis (Rockstar Racing). The womens event was won by Jenny Fay, after a cat and mouse battle with Jenni King. Although Fay took line honours, Irish citizenship means King will wear the Green and Gold bands for the next twelve months.
Full results for all categories can be viewed at Online Results.
It was a good day out for MarathonMTB.com riders, with Elite Team rider Graeme Arnott taking 2nd place in Veteran mens, and hans Dielacher riding to a strong 3rd place in Super Masters, with his Trans Alp team mate Craig McKeown finishing 4th in Masters.
Jenny Fay recounts her race:
Shaun Lewis talks us through his 3rd place:
Andrew Blair discusses his strong 2nd place:
Adrian Jackson tells MarathonMTB.com about his race and result: