Trek Ambassador Race Report: Ben Marshall at the James Williamson Enduro Challenge
The 2013 edition of the James Williamson Enduro was the third race of my season for 2013, after I did the National Championships (19th U/23) and the Rocky Trail 100 (5th 66km Open Male) in February. This was the third year of the event in memory of the former mountain biker James Williamson, and saw a strong field with the likes of Andy Blair, Shawn Lewis, Dylan Cooper, Sid Taberly and Trenton Lowe, just to name a few.
We arrived at the event centre at 8 o’clock, and hopped out of the car where the temperature was almost 20, about 15 degrees warmer than last year (thank god). I got myself ready before doing a warm up, and then headed down to the start line. I lined up in the third row of the grid behind the elite field, just behind Shawn Lewis. I got a good start and was in the lead bunch until the start of the single track, about 2km up the road, where the field split up into small groups. I was about the 20th rider to hit the single track and found myself in a group of four by the end of the first section, with Mike Blewitt, Justin Morris and one other rider. We stayed in this group for the whole way around the first lap of the 25km loop, about 200m behind a group of three just up the road from us, which included Ed McDonald. Coming into the transition area for the first time our group split up as some riders had better transitions than others. I had the worst one as Ajay, my loyal support crew, had his first ever stuff up, as he struggled with the bottle of honey, finally managing to get it on the sandwhich and all down the front of his pants and shirt. After this entertainment I set off for my second of three laps, about 200m behind two of the riders from the group I was previously in.
I worked hard on the climbs to try and bridge the gap back to the other two riders but they remained out of reach as I struggled to find a rhythm in the single track. Towards the end of the second lap I was caught by one of the lead 50km riders and I worked hard on holding his wheel throughout the single track while I set the pace on the climbs and a lot of the fire roads. I was starting to feel the increased tempo as I came into transition for the second time, and was suffering a bit from lower back pains. This time transition was back to regulation, as Ajay had the honey bottle under control and it was a smooth transition. I grabbed a bottle of water and jammed another sandwhich into me and a gel and I started to feel a bit better again as the back pain just became a numbness.I headed back out on track with another 75km elite rider who had just come through transition. I worked with him until the first section of single track where I managed to drop him. I had finally found my rhythm in the single track and was able to conserve a bit of energy as I was able to hold speed a lot better. Knowing it was the last lap I started to lift the tempo a bit and caught Justin Morris in the final section of singletrack. I managed to pass him on one of the climbs before dropping him with about 5km to go.
I crossed the line in a time of 3hr 16min, putting me second in U/23, in a time that would have me in 16th place in the elite field. The winner was Sid Taberly in a sprint finish with Shawn Lewis, in flying time of 2hr 56min. I was pretty happy with the time as I headed into the race having a hard week of training, and was super fresh for the race. On a similar course to last year I improved my time by 17mins, so I was pretty stoked with that. So now for a proper taper ahead of Capital Punishment this weekend and hopefully I can pull out a good result.
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