Wed, Sep 27, 2023 11:34 AM

Students mount up for MTB nationals on home turf


Peter Jones

Over three years of planning will finally pay off for the Marlborough Mountain Bike Club next month when the national school mountain biking championships are staged in their backyard.

In 2021, the local club’s year of hard work preparing to host the nationals was foiled by COVID, it being logistically impossible to run the championships under alert level 2 restrictions.

However, two years later, Marlborough will finally get the chance to showcase the region’s rich mountain biking opportunities and unique terrain.

The 2023 championships, which include enduro, downhill and cross-country events, will take place from October 4-7. There are 500 riders registered and 1100 entries.

Fraser Brown, president of the MMBC, is excited to be able to host the country’s top college riders.

“Unfortunately, COVID scuttled our opportunity in 2021, then it went down to Bluff last year and we have managed to secure [the champs] again this year which is exciting.

“A tremendous amount of hard work has been put in, both from members of the club and our locals who have helped out building new trails, both in 2021 and now.”

The club have held a series of “Dig Days” over the past few years, inviting members to turn up, build new trails and tidy up tracks, before getting the chance to ride over them.

“It was basically a ‘no dig, no ride’ policy,” explained Fraser. “You have to do the hard work to earn the rewards, which is a bit of a mountain biking mantra.

“It is cool for the kids to get out and create these new trails, ride them and then for people from out of town to come and play on them as well. They can be really proud of the work they have done.”

The downhill section (on October 5-6) will be staged at Homebrook, around 5km up the Taylor Pass Rd. The cross-country races (on October 4) will be held on the Wither Hills, above the Rifle Range Car Park where the event base will be. The enduro (on October 7) will take place in the Taylor Pass Forest, where the MMBC recently signed an access agreement for, plus on Jentree. Spectators are welcome although access to some areas will be limited.

Forty-three local riders have signed up for the champs, hailing from Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ Colleges, Fairhall and Bohally.

Fraser says the club was “seeing a real resurgence” in numbers at the moment.

“Mountain biking dropped off a little bit during COVID but there is a whole new, young generation that are just coming into it … plus another even younger group, around year five and six, that are stepping up.

“Unfortunately, they can’t compete this time but they will be the next ones coming on.”

Kobie Madsen is one of a strong group of Bohally riders. Photo supplied.

Marlborough competitors:

Bohally Intermediate: Margot Davis, Alex du Plessis, Kruz Lockwood, Kobie Madsen, Finley McCormick, Bruce Tunnicliff.

Fairhall School: Emma Anderson, Tom Dunne, Oli Hayes, Billy Hurren, Toby Wakelin, Harry Whyte.

Marlborough Boys’ College: Jackson Beal, Aidan Bennett, Callum Clemett, Alex Craig, Sam Craig, James Dwyer, Finn Foster, William Guckert, Alex Hansen, Liam Harcus, Sam Hayes, Jacob Herd, Max Joyce, Kealan MacDonald, Hunter Marfell, Ryan Marfell, Finn McKenzie, Lachlan McNabb, Luke O’Brien, Elijah O’Donnell, Jono Planthaber, Connor Pugh, Bevan Rae, Archie Saggers, Callum Tavave, Paddy Trower, Angus Walter, Wesley Weedon, Sam Williams.

Marlborough Girls’ College: Neve McKenzie, Maddy Sinclair.

Relay teams from MBC, MGC and Renwick will also take part.

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