The Capital Punishment can be classed as a season opener on the Australian Marathon racing scene. As the Otway Odyssey now moves to April to keep the fire service happy, the Ferbuary test piece has passed the mantle to the people of AROC Sport who run the Capital Punishment Marathon, so named as it crosses through Canberra, the capital of Australia, from Kowen Forest in the East to Mt Stromlo in the West.
The Capital Punishment is a point to point. I love this style of race as you actually get to go somewhere. But as mountain bike races tend to start in the middle of nowhere (in this case, a field a 20 minute drive out of Queanbeyan!) they can also be a logistical nightmare – but AROC have this sorted with bag delivery and rider shuttles.
The 7am start is a tricky one, as it lines up right on sun rise, so your warm up is in the dark, people say hello to you who you don’t recognise, and the toilet queue doesn’t move as fast as it should as people can’t tell which ones are vacant and which ones are busy.
The first start wave shot off, with riders who could justify being in the top 10% of the field. Subaru-MarathonMTB.com were represented by Imogen Smith and Naomi Hansen, and myself. The three of us, along with some real XCM hitters, toed the line with the transponder beeping away under duress. Serene.
From the gun it was on, as the first section of single track isn’t that far in. Lines of riders were scything through the forest in the dawn light, fighting for places to pass when the trail dumped you onto fire trail.
It’s unfortunate that one of the riders didn’t do this so well, and part way through attempting to overtake Imogen Smith, crashed, taking them both out – with Smith injured enough that she had to pull out. Passing is an art form, if you can’t do it safely, wait until you can.
Singletrack in the ACT and surrounds never really works for me. I’m just not smooth enough. I mean I love it, I’m just a bit shit though. I did have my Bianchi Methanol 29 FS, which helped make up for my short falls. And a lack of XCM km’s had me off the back from the gun, even as far back as Jason English when he starts!
The trails were in great condition through Kowen and Sparrow, and I was getting caught up in the Masters and Veterans race – it was fun. Riding single track and dirt roads at speed. But I was flagging. I popped off just after the Majura road works and rolled into the neutral section, ready to eat and drink. And tweet.
50 minutes to ride 10km is plenty. I rolled. I spoke to people a little, and just kept my legs moving. I waited at the start of the timed section for a good group, figuring the combination of Jason Chalker, Stu Shaw and some other strong riders who had come in behind me, would be a good choice. After a sketchy On The Go rider managed to leave us without taking anyone down, I was promptly dropped climbing into the arboretum. Then caught by others, then dropped. Repeat for the next 25km until I was grateful over the line.
Dylan Cooper won the men’s race, ahead of Shaun Lewis and Jason English. A stand out ride by James Downing who finished 4th – quality for this old #PRO.
In the women’s race, Jenny Fay lead from the gun, and crossed the line in 3:50:55. That’s fast! Naomi Hansen was adrift, loving the fire trail climbs but still getting her head around Canberra single track. Naomi was just ahead of Eliza Kwan, who finished 3rd.
Full results are online, and the next round of the Maverick Series is the Otway Odyssey on April 26th.