The Real Insurance XCM Series has greatly increased the excitement around the cross country marathon (XCM) discipline in Australia over the past two years. With a series of stand alone events now united into a series, all of the included events are benefiting from the greater exposure and higher levels of participation. The Elite fields are deeper, and the general participation is higher as well.
The Wollombi Wild Ride stands apart from the rest of the series, with a shorter 75km course that is predominantly fire trail. With all Real Insurance XCM Series races except the Convict 100 coming down to a sprint finish in 2012 – talk amongst the elite racers was of a fast moving small group coming in for a sprint into the tight finish at Wollombi pub.
Series leader Shaun Lewis would be holding off a charge from Andy Blair. If Blair was to win this day, it would keep the series more open coming into the final round, the Briar’s Highland Fling. During a frosty, cold start on the first day of Spring, the 75km field took off, through the funnel of traffic that the ‘no riding’ transponder matts had created. Little was heard from out on course, but it was Trenton Day and Andy Blair who were just clear from the bunch at the KOM, which came at the 8.8km mark. There were few reports available from the course, but at the 42km it was Blair and Day clear, with a strong chase by Troy Glennan, Jason English and James Downing right behind them.
Only on one of the last descents, was the 2012 Australian Marathon Champion Blair able to shake Day, and nail it towards the line for the final kilometres, clocking a time under two and a half hours. Soon after, Day crossed solo, followed by a sprint for 3rd which English won ahead of Glennan. Downing came in solo for 5th.
A larger group came towards the start area but turned into a cloud of dust as one of the riders dropped themselves and Shaun Lewis was caught in the tumble. Andrew Hall made it across the line for 6th, with Team Type 1 rider Justin Morris crossing for 7th.
Jenny Fay won the women’s race, clear of Becky Mates in second. The depth of talent has not run as deep in the 2012 Real Insurance XCM series for the women as it has for the men. Hopefully this will be changed in 2013.
In the support race, it was 1,2,3 for Jet Racing, with Garry Millburn taking the win ahead of team mates Kyle Ward and Rob Booker. As it was only just 12 months since Garry suffered a life threatening head on collision in Europe, his return to high level racing is very impressive and shows the drive and determination he possesses. Kylie Webb won the women’s 45km race
Wollombi Pub provided a great start and finish location. The event felt close and social, which belied the hard racing going on in the hills. Full event results can be found on the event website.