by Ben Haworth
July 31, 2009
Michael from Merida writes…
New / updated courses for Selkirk in 2009
Selkirk’s round of the Merida Bikes MTB Marathon Series has used almost the same routes for three of the standard distance options (50, 75 and 100k) since the first event in 2004. All tough circuits aimed at lovers of endless climbs and proper technical singletrack descents. Classic routes they might be, but there is always room for improvement and regulars taking part in this year’s marathon will notice some major changes.
One problem that has frustrated us and riders from year one is that bottlenecks develop on the singletracks in Yair Forest. To sort this out chief route planner Pete Laing has included two new climbs before the riders reach The Three Bretheren and drop into Yair; The Duchess’s Drive in Bowhill Estate and the Minch Moor drove road from Yarrowford to the summit of Brown Knowe. With 26km of trail that includes some choice singletrack in Yarrow Valley and almost 750m of climbing to be completed before the tricky descents of Yair are reached, the field should be strung out sufficiently for everyone to enjoy the tighter stuff without hold-ups.
The other bugbear and subject of much post ride moaning has been the merciless slog of a climb from Glenbenna up to the Minch Moor crossroads, tackled to date by the 50 and 100km riders. With the inclusion of the new loop in Bowhill, just after the start, this nightmare of a climb is no longer needed (Hurray!).
So what about the new descents?? Well, there is a screaming fast twintrack early on, all the usual suspects in Yair, Elibank and Traquair, then for the 85’rs, a fantastic section on Enduro tracks from high on the Southern Upland Way down to Broadmeadows Farm. Worth the entry fee alone! Also new is a contour climb up towards Tibbie Tamson’s grave on the south side of Foulshiels Hill, near the end of the full marathon route. This includes a steep section (60m vertical ascent) which will be a push for everyone apart from maybe Danny McCaskill. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! The final descent through Philiphaugh Estate to the finish is different too and if the weather holds, some of it will be on woodsy trails.
So, to summarise……here the 4 MTB courses on offer
28km: Similar to last year but slightly more climbing and more singletrack. Top quality from start to finish and just right for novices or those on the way back to fitness.
45Km: Mostly new apart from the Yair loop and a big improvement on the previous route. Easy gradients on the way up and some brilliant descending.
70Km: Same as the new 50’ with the addition of a spin out to Elibank Forest and back. Maybe not the classic 70’ of old but includes some great new trail early on, the best of the natural forest singletrack from last years’ route and a tough finish on sheep paths and fast tracks.
85Km: This is a topper. Three new climbs, three new descents, plenty of twin-track in the first hour or so and a choice selection of the Borders’ best natural and purpose-built trails.
There are still entries left for the Selkirk round. To secure your entry please go to the entry page http://www.mtb-marathon.co.uk/entry_forms/entry_forms.php
Registration and location:
The registration which is based at Selkirk Rugby Club (signposted from Friday lunchtime onwards) and will open for a couple of hours on Friday evening before it opens on Saturday (1st August) morning at 6am and will stay open till 8pm. On Sunday (2nd August) the registration will re-open at 7am and will stay open till 9am. The Merida Bikes Marathon will start at 10am on Sunday morning. Rugby Club will be signposted from all directions – so simply make your way into Selkirk and follow the markers.
Depending on the amount of campers we will have at the event we might be forced to also use an overflow campground which is located a few hundred yards away from the start and finish line.
You will be able to enter on the day subject to a £5 surcharge.