Multi-lap endurance MTB events were somewhat of a revolution in the mid 2000s as the advent of 24 hour racing, 12 hour and many 8 hour events popped up on the calendar and quickly became very popular. In the years following the marathon discipline grew offering a more invigorating experience for multiple hours on the bike and subsequently took a bit of the shine and popularity off the multi lap endurance format. Now as we get set to enter the 2020s the MTB racing industry offers multitudes of racing experiences from Enduro E bike gravity races to 300+km gravel grinds on nothing but dirt roads. So where does the more traditional multi lap endurance event stand today? I took to the Kellevie 6hour in Tasmania, Australia recently for some investigation.
Kellevie is a MTB park close to the city of Hobart, it has become famous for it’s hosting of the Hellfire Cup stage race held each November. (Read report from the 2018 Hellfire here ). The annual 6 hour event is a good chance for riders to get some time in on these trails which are located on private land. This year’s event drew a crowd of over 200 riders which is a sizeable number for an event in regional Australia. Approaching these events in a team operation is still by far the most popular way to compete in these multi-lap endurance races. Upon chatting with competitors here the appeal is to get some good quality MTB riding in but also having the opportunity to catch up with mates. Being able to smash it on the bike for a lap or 2 (30-60mins) then chill out, eat and chat with like-minded folk as you await your next call up for laps is still the drawcard of these events. With the possible exception of Enduro/Gravity racing this is a unique aspect of these events.
Mid race chats and networking is not so common in XCM or XCO events.
Subsequently, these races attract the most broad spectrum of competitors. At the Kellevie 6 hour some of the local high schools sent teams of students to compete, family members teamed up for some fun on the dirt all the way to full time professional athlete’s such as Israel Cycling Academy’s Nathan Earle and National XCO series winner Ben Bradley partook for some hard and fast racing. I took to the race as a solo participant so missed out on many of the aforementioned social benefits. Yet, still got the opportunity to circulate the world class trails in Kellevie. The 9.5km loop used some of the best trails on offer in the park and put riders to the test with some gnarly steep climbs but the hard work was rewarded with sweet, flowing bermed descents.
The duo of Nathan Earle and Ben Bradley took out the competition overall followed by Hobart local strong men Dan De Groot and former national team racer Joe Quarmby. I was happy to take out the solo competition with 13 laps of the course. Edwina Hughes took out the women’s solo competition ahead of Emma Flukes. Full results here.
It had been many years between drinks for me attending a multi-lap endurance event, and I can say I will definitely be back. This discipline plays to the soul of MTB racing by offering so much more than just good trails and physical exhaustion. These events deserve our support. Hats off to the team at Storm Bay Promotions for another stellar MTB event in Tasmania.
See you out there if not at an XCM at a multi-lap endurance MTB event!