After many rumours starting to spread, Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) have announced today that the upcoming Cross-Country Marathon (XCM) National Championships will no longer be held in Townsville, but in Bayview near Brisbane instead.
“Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) along with the Townsville Rockwheelers Mountain Bike Club wish to advise that regrettably due to the recent disastrous floods in Townsville, it has become necessary to re-locate the 2019 National Marathon Championships.”
“Subsequently, the 2019 Marathon National Championships will be awarded and held in conjunction with the upcoming Bayview Blast in Brisbane in June.”
Given the extent of the damage by the flooding from a cyclone at the start of the year, the fact that the trails let alone the city of Townsville aren’t quite ready is no surprise. The club have even said that many residents are still living in hotels as their homes are repaired.
Rockwheelers spokesperson Geoff Jordan said “Club volunteers have been working tirelessly to repair trails following an unprecedented weather event dropped more than a year’s worth of rain over the city causing widespread flooding and significant damage to mountain bike trails.”
“The club has also engaged specialised contractors, however continued rain periods have delayed repairs and we have just run out of time to have the trails ready for the event.”
The Championships now fall on the weekend of 8-9 June at Bayview, using the extensive trail network there. This is the race weekend for the Bayview Blast, run by RATS Cycling Club. It’s uncertain at this point whether each race category will now be the Championship race, or whether that will be a different race start on Sunday from their main event – which would be unlikely.
We received numerous messages via social media from dismayed riders who had invested in the event, mainly with flights that can’t be refunded or changed to something useable. Bookings were still being made by some on the morning of April 10.
And while it’s clear that Townsville Rockwheelers made every effort to make sure the event could go ahead (along with the rest of the Townsville MTB Festival) they are a volunteer sports group and this decision should have come earlier from the sport’s governing body.
It should have been clear at least a month ago that Townsville would not be ready for a UCI level championship event by May, and a decision made at that point.
This is a failure in communication from governing body for not taking a leadership position in for the direction of a championship event. The weather event was in February, leaving ample time to understand the situation – and in this case the priorities for the residents of Townsville.
We hope that Townsville Rockwheelers get their trail network back to where they want it – but more importantly we hope the whole city can continue its recovery.
MTBA have let their members down, and most crucially the members who make a commitment to travelling a large distance to the XCM Champs, those who are believers in the sport.
There is no doubt that Bayview Blast will make an excellent venue for the XCM Champs, and that Townsville Rockwheelers could also run great event again in 2019 given their depth of experience. The fault here lies with the people who needed to make such a decision and communicate it earlier.
We wish the residents of Townsville all the best for their ongoing repair work in the city, suburbs and the trails.