The 5th James Williamson Memorial Enduro was run today in Wingello Forest in the NSW Southern Highlands. The race is run to not only remember the late James Williamson, but also to raise money for junior development programs for mountain bikers from the region.
In 2015, the Willo Enduro was also made the first round of the MTBA XCM Series, and ran the day after the Maverick Marathon Series’ second round: the Giant Odyssey. Only two riders completed the double!
With a lot of rain to the north, thoughts were grim on the drive south. But conditions were far grim – although they were ‘atmospheric’ in typical Highlands fashion. Cool, grey and with moist air. With some recent rain, and otherwise dry soil, the trails were ripe for racing.
With lots of distance and category options using the 25km course, the Elite/Open race was for 3 laps – so 75km. The pace up the start climb was measured, but not ridiculous, and soon enough a front group formed with the likely suspects of Dylan Cooper, Brendan Johnston, the Ward Brothers, Ed McDonald, Tom Patton, Jack Lavis and a few others.
I settled into a chase group behind as Jason English’s handlebars slipped as we crossed some ruts. The ensuing commotion caused a small gap that wasn’t readily shut down. Especially by me.
As in any race, the shape and size of this group grew as riders rode up to it, and some dropped back from the front group. But the race out front was none too surprising, especially given the form of Brendan Johnston, who is fresh off a 2nd place in the National XCO Champs last weekend. He rode lap for lap with Dylan Cooper, but managed to get some time into Cooper in the final lap to cross clear for the win. An in form Kyle Ward was 3rd, impressive after racing to 9th at the Giant Odyssey the previous day.
Jenny Fay had also raced the Odyssey, finishing 3rd. But today she rode to victory, with a healthy margin over 2nd place Briony Mattocks and Rachel Blakers in 3rd.
Both Johntson and Fay will now wear the leader’s jerseys for the National XCM Series. The next round is Stage 1 of the Easter in the Alice Stage race.
Full results for all distances and categories are online.