The HSBC British Cycling National Marathon Championships were held on the Isle of Man on Sunday 30th July over a 100km single lap route.
After 100km of racing the leading pair, Ben Thomas (Mountain Trax Vauxhall, last year’s champion, and multiple End to End winner) and Tom Bell (Delv, from Holmfirth), entered the finishing field above Crosby as a pair. Unbelievably, still together after 100km of what both later described as brutal, hard but great fun, it would be a sprint finish. Tom managed a small 2 metre gap before the final climb to the finish flags and kept sprinting all the way to the line, in the end beating Ben by 18 seconds. Paul Oldham, Hope, was through in third 2 minutes later. These three riders completed the route in under 5 hours 20 minutes.
With the route covering nearly every track the Island has to offer, the riders would have seen the beautiful vistas if they had time to look up from the rocks and ruts they were riding through.
The winning lady Amy Souter, InGear Coaching naughtone, from Leeds took 7:08:19 to complete the course with Erica Moks, Mountain Goat Coaching, hailing from Barnard Castle at 07:28:36 and Katherine Simpson, Rock And Road, from Stirlingshire finishing in 07:44:47 taking the top 3 senior places.
The Isle of Man’s Emma Atkinson took gold in the Veteran Women’s class in a time of 07:55:43, beating Ruth Gamwell and Lydia Gould.
The Isle of Man therefore can now boast of a 2017 British Cycling National Champion in Emma.
Nigel Morris, organiser, praised all the riders for their dedication and hard training that enabled them to complete the hardest route that he could imagine on the Island in such fast times. He was also absolutely clear that the event would not be possible without a group of dedicated marshals, this year swelled to around 30 individuals covering road junctions and gates. He thanked every one of them. He also praised the many government and private organisations that work so closely together to make events of this nature happen that sometimes get forgotten in the aftermath of the event, such as the police, The Department of Food and Agriculture, The Department of Economic Development, St John Ambulance, Robinsons, Cannel Print, and SAS Events.
Tom Bell, said that the long climbs on the Island played to his strengths, but the rocky descents, with “adult head sized rocks” on the descents were somewhat daunting as he had ridden the course in essence blind having only arrived on the Saturday.
Commenting on the event, Ben Thomas believes that with some minor adjustments the event can be as good as UCI World Marathon Series events.
Mr Skelly, MHK and minister for the Department of Economic Development commented:
‘All the riders were incredible athletes and were a credit to the sport. They will have helped enhance the Isle of Man’s cycling reputation around the world. The whole event was a great success. The amount of devotion, commitment and enthusiasm the team organisers have for the event is clear to see and credit to them and their fortitude.’
The day also saw the Manx Marathon Championship over the 100 mile route and the short 50km Manx 50. These events were also a resounding success, with 26 finishers from an entry of 73 and multiple National Jerseys being won across the age categories. The 50km event was won in a time of under 3 hours, with the longest time being 7 hours 50 minutes.
Mr Skelly thanked the organisers, and is already looking forward to 2018.
Photo - Top three in the men's race. Courtesy of Luke Phair.