The weather played a huge part in the Scottish National Downhill Championships in Fort William at the weekend (9th-10th September), but not in the way you’d expect.
The Scottish Downhill Association looked to the forecasts and prayed they were wrong for the Championships, and final round of the series, to go ahead.
It was a relatively dry start, given the amount of rain that had fallen on the course the night before, and as practice got off to a good start the SDA and the commissaires decided to play their cards right and do a timed race run on the Saturday afternoon – just in case.
Previous Eliminator World Cup winner Kenta Gallagher (Polygon UR) took the fastest time on Saturday’s race run, with a time of 4 minutes 46 seconds. Last years’ champion Ben Cathro suffered a puncture not even half way down the course – and with the weather forecast posing the threat of cancelling the racing on Sunday – it seemed like it was all over for him.
However on the Sunday the Event Organisers, officials and marshalls braved the weather on the hill to let almost 200, rather brave, riders continue with a second race run before the looming rain clouds and gondola halting wind moved over the Nevis Range.
With the course quickly getting battered by wind, and rocky downhill sections rapidly turning into… well rapids, spectators watched with baited breath. Nobody was expecting this run to change the results from the previous day.
Nevertheless, Ben Cathro, determined to retain his Scottish Championship title, decided that this run would be his run, regardless of the conditions – and raced down the hill in a time of 4 minutes 40 seconds – 6 seconds quicker than Kenta’s time set in far more favourable conditions.
With only time to get in one race run before it became too dangerous to continue – for some riders, the time from the day before came in handy – and the champions were crowned.
In the Senior Women’s Championship event, the tables were rocked with the arrival of Katy Winton (Trek Factory Racing), one of the top races in the World Enduro Series. Having competed in the Scottish XC Championships the previous weekend, Katy unloaded her big bike from the van, and flew down the hill, setting the fastest time on both days.
Defending Champion, Debs Primrose (Leslie Bike Shop) suffered a puncture on Saturday’s timed run and a crash on Sunday, putting her out of contention for a medal.
Elena Melton (Female Riders Inc.) has seen her results improve throughout the season, and she added a silver medal to her collection. Louise Ann Ferguson was the bronze medallist.
With almost 60 riders in the Junior, Youth and Juvenile categories, who pushed their bikes to the limit with fast and fierce racing, the future is bright for Downhill racing in Scotland
- Ben Cathro
- Kenta Gallagher
- George Gannicott
- Katy Winton
- Elena Melton
- Louise Ann Ferguson
- Jack McCallum
- Callum Brown
- Callum Galloway
- Tea Jensen
- Phoebe Gale
- Charlotte Higgins
- Jamie Edmondson
- Kai Bremnder
- Jake Ebdon
- Jack Wilson
- William Brodie
- Lewis Elder
- Alan Blyth
- Rob Cobain
- Alan Cameron
- John Young
- Alastair MacLennan
- Steve Cousins