Isla Short and Cameron Mason were crowned the winners of the National Cross-country Marathon Championships in Pippingford Park after resounding wins.
The championships saw riders tackle a challenging 80km course, filled with steep forestry climbs, flowing berms, open field sprints and tight singletrack descents. With a fantastic turnout of 181 riders gridding in the national and a further 123 taking on the Vittoria marathon running alongside, the crowds were out in force, cheering on their riders.
After a packed start, an early breakaway formed of five riders, with Jason Bouttell (Espresso Library), James Swadling (NSR), Thomas Mein (Hope Factory Racing), Cameron Mason (Trinity Racing) and Jacob Scott (Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling) leading the way after the first singletrack descent.
As the riders entered their second lap, Mein and Bouttell managed to form a gap, with Swadling and Mason trailing behind, but just a lap later, Mason made his move and powered passed his rivals to take the lead.
Bouttell fought to hold Mason’s wheel, but the Scotsman was too powerful and continued to ride away. Mein settled into third position, with Swadling chasing him down.
As the riders entered their final lap, Mason had a comfortable lead and showed no signs of slowing down, clearly having a bit extra in the tank for the final lap.
The relief was palpable as Mason crossed the finishing line after a tight battle, finishing with a lead of two minutes and 42 seconds. The remaining podium positions were still up for grabs, and with the track stretched out across the Pippingford Park estate, spectators could only wait in anticipation at the finishing line. Bouttell claimed second, and Swadling rounded off the podium in third.
In the veteran’s race, Sam Humphrey took first place, followed by Alan Gunner (Verulam) in second and Rich Freshwater (Hunt Wheels) in third.
In the grand veteran’s, Nick Craig (Scott Racing) rounded off a tremendous cross-country season, taking a dominating win by over 10 minutes and being the only grand veteran to break the sub-four hour race time. Craig was followed by Steve Calland (Team TMC – Strada Wheels) in second and Marc Chamberlain (Hunt Wheels) in third.
Roland Tilley (Bournemouth Cycleworks) took the win in the super veterans ahead of Andy Weaving (Cotswold Cycles RT) in second and Stephen Jones in third.
Despite a minor tussle on the starting sprint, the women’s race saw Isla Short (Ghost Factory Racing) and Anna Kay (777) make an early bid for a breakaway, which was maintained throughout the 80km race.
By the second lap, Short and Kay were working their way through the men’s field as they battled it out to keep the lead. The two were glued throughout the remaining laps, but Short found the power in the final lap to put the distance between her and Kay, ultimately crossing the line just short of four minutes ahead of Kay. The 2022 winner Amy Henchoz (Scott Racing) powered through to take third in the senior field.
Joanne Thom (TORQ Performance) had a fantastic start to the race, taking an early lead in the veteran’s field, and despite faltering on the third lap, Thom pulled it back to maintain the lead and take the win ahead of Jane Barr in second and Davina McLelland in third.
In the grand veteran’s race, Sarah Whelan took the top of the podium ahead of Denise Stuart (GS MOSSA) in second and Lorna Rider in third.