It was a big weekend of mountain bike racing in Australia, with a National XCO round at Mt Stromlo, National DH at Thredbo, and the AMB100 marathon as well. As the marathon fell on sunday after XCO on saturday – and both were at Mt Stromlo – many wondered what the “spillover” from one event to the next would be.
As it turns out – pretty high! With close to 300 mountain bikers racing the demanding 28km circuit laid out by Rocky Trail Entertainment, there were more than just a handful who stayed on the extra night. Elite racers from Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales all opted to stay on to race in one of the events on Sunday.
Like many popular marathons, the AMB100 has many distances. It’s a lap based event, so while they are nominally called 33, 66, 100 kilometre and 100 mile options, the true distances are 28km, 56km, 84km and 140km. No one was asking for a partial refund for less kilometres.
Mt Stromlo is one of the best multi-purpose trail centres in the country, but that doesn’t mean it can only cater for entry level riders. There are plenty of very difficult trails on the mountain, and the AMB100 course took in many of the best, and with almost 700m of climbing per lap. Factor in an almost entirely singletrack route, and the level of difficulty becomes obvious.
Soon after 8am the 66 and 100km racers took off – although the 100 mile racers had started at 5am to beat the oppressive heat of an Australian summer’s day. The 33km one lap racers followed soon after.
The pace was pretty high, with many of the countries best bar-to-bar up the firetrail start climb. Andy Blair, Scott Bowden, Tom Goddard, James Downing, Anthony Shippard, Shaun Lewis and others all trying to get to the singletrack first.
In the 66km race it was Scott Bowden who finished clear of Anthony Shippard and his own team mate Tom Goddard. In the women’s, Jenny Fay showed her ability to pace and rode clear of Jenni King and Terri Rhodes.
The 100km event saw Andy Blair home first, a with a decent gap on team mate Shaun Lewis. Troy Herfoss was 3rd and James Downing notched up another 4th at this event. Eliza Kwan won the women’s 100km.
The 33km men’s race was won by Subaru-MarathonMTB.com racer Sebastian Jayne, and the women’s by birthday girl Sarah Tucknott.
The 100 milers had the heat of the day, some wind and cloud, and then heat again. With experienced racers feeling the demanding nature of the Stromlo course after 2 laps, doing 5 is monumental. Andrew Hall beat reigning champion Ed McDonald, who suffered a plague of flat tyres. Andrew Lloyd rolled in 3rd.
The AMB100 also offers a teams category, where you race with your mate. It was won by the Ward brothers, looking resplendent in their new Trek kit, when they had it on. Jason Lam and Peter Fisher came 2nd.
Given the dazed look many people had when they finished, it’s safe to say that Mt Stromlo has yet again delivered a demanding course. The AMB100 is a unique race, as it’s lap based. But that’s actually a UCI standard. With a couple of course modifications to allow for a more open start loop and some extra passing opportunities, and some more shade at the event centre, this could really grow to be a pre-eminent marathon in Australia for the 100 (or even 80km) distance.
Full results for all categories are online now.