The scenic border town is to play host to the British Marathon Championships for the second year running, providing the participants with a second opportunity to have a crack at the first single-loop marathon champs course since the competition was first run in 2005. With the preceding week’s weather dominated by warm temperatures, light winds and little rain, it will be a dry, fast course that greets racers on Saturday.
Organisers Durty Events have been working hard to make the event happen since it first became apparent that the UK may be without a BC-sanctioned Marathon Championships for 2013. Course designer Pete Laing has added an extra few kilometers of excellent borders riding to the course to ensure that it more than meets the UCI minimum of 80km, but we are reliably informed it’ll be “all killer, no filler”.
Looking down the start list, there are three former national marathon champs entered in the men’s race, and two in the women’s, so it should make for an interesting dynamic. In the men’s race, all eyes will be on Lee Williams (Gateway Cycles), the defending champ to see if the extra distance will change the man on top in Selkirk. His nearest challengers will likely be Oli Beckingsale (Endura) who has worn the stripes before, and has the measure of Lee in marathon and xc races, and Dan Fleeman (Dig Deep Coaching/Pactimo) who stood on the second step of last weekend’s NPS podium, and excels on the climbs. Also very likely to be in the mix are the Vauhall Motors/Mountain Trax pairing of Tim Dunford and Ben Thomas, who are in the privileged position of being able to work as a team through the race.
Luckily for the seniors, and to the dismay of everyone over 40, it looks like Nick Craig (Scott-Syncros) has finally decided to act his age not his shoe size, and race up in Vets, but the second step of the podium is far from settled. It’s likely to be a 4-way battle between Richard Rothwell (MSteels Cycles), Anthony White (Mt Zoom) and Adrian Lawrence & Roy Davies (Team Elite/BH), who are all very experienced and capable riders, and frequently finish within a few minutes of each other.
Finally, in the women’s race, three of the best marathon racers in the world are gracing the race in a small, but very high quality field. Sally Bigham (Topeak-Ergon) will be hard to beat, and looks like a shoo-in for the stripey jersey, but will face strong competition from last year’s winner Jane Nuessli (Fischer-BMC) and under-rated Catherine Williamson (Team Bizhub) who both have strong results to their names. Of the domestic riders, it looks likely that Melanie Alexander (Scott-Syncros) and Rachel Fenton (Canyon UK) will be in the mix to pick up the minor placing should something go wrong for the front three.
Full start list here:
Look out for a write up on MarathonMTB post-race.