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Last weekend the PMBA Enduro rolled into Llangollen. Part of the British National Enduro Series and an Enduro World Series qualifier, this round was a challenging one. Here’s a look at what happened, along with a race report.
PMBA Enduro Llangollen
One Giant Leap is a well-established downhill venue, it’s steep and very fast with some very rough downhill sections. As you approach the venue along the stunning rolling Welsh hills, I sure found it overwhelming to see the steepness of the hill and the visible trails meandering down the side of the hill.
This weekend’s race was a 2-day event, with many riders arriving on Friday to set up camp or base and do a track walk. The Saturday was about practice, finding the lines and realising what you had gotten yourself into. Sunday was the race, from an early start riders were heading up the hill. There was an opportunity for the women to head off as the first group, a great idea considering how male orientated the sport still is.
The Saturday was certainly challenging for the organiser as riders were a bit too excitable for the early running, very rowdy on the hill with a period of time where practice had to pause for about an hour as the medics were attending to a number of injuries at one time. With all medics fully being utilised you simply could not continue to safely continue practice. However, Kev reacted immediately and arranged a 4th medic team for Sunday to cover for the race.
On the actual race, things had settled down somewhat and there were fewer incidents, maybe that was down to the weather, which throughout the day was cruel, or maybe the rider realised the consequences of such high-speed crashes. Those with early starts managed to get round a “relatively dry” course, however, the mid-pack had to contend with some heavy rain and increasingly slippery trails, but by the end it had again dried out. Stages were greasy in the wet, especially through the woods on stage 4, probably the most “downhill” stage.
The race consisted of 5 stages, with new sections put in by the PMBA Enduro Series builders and helpers.
- Stage 1, Gentle Giant: This was the mainline with a little tweaking and the easiest stage of the day, but don’t let that fool you, it was still steep and super fast!
- Stage 2, Einherjar: This had one of the best enduro sections, freshly cut into the hill to join different sections up. This trail was possibly more technical than stage one, especially in the final wooded section.
- Stage 3, Ride the Lightening: This is the stage they were hoping to use in 2019, but ran out of time to finish. Originally started by Brian Mundy, and completed by Martin, the owner, during the first lockdown it was ready to race. As the usual start is shared with other stages you dropped straight into the guts of this awesome stage. Stage 3 starting to get a little more technical with big rooty sections and steep sharp turns.
- Stage 4, Gully Run: This is where things started to hot up for sure. Based around the upper part of Portugal the roughest DH track on the hillside, the gully end was full enduro. It was also “the stage with the climb,” contrasting the first half of the stage. With the rest it was really a stage of 2 halves.
- Stage 5, Esquilo: Esquilo used parts of Son of Squirrel and the Portugal end. This was stage 1 in 2019 and its steepness surprised many, improved for 2021 and a fitting finish to the event.
A Big Event
This was the biggest ever event at One Giant Leap Llangollen with 532 racers taking part and 473 finishers. The fastest rider of the day across the 5 stages went to Riley Scott (21-29) in an incredible 12:15.00 straight. Second fastest and literally breathing down his neck was Jono Jones (21-29) in 12:27.73, also racing his first PMBA! Third fastest went to Christo Gallagher (21-29) in 12:32.86, helped with an early start in the dry. This was some tight racing for the top 3 spots for sure.
35 women raced over the weekend and the fastest of the day went to the very rapid Chloe Taylor 21-34 (F) in a superb 15:08.87, and close behind her was freshly crowned National Champ Jess Stone 21-34 (F) in 15:12.25. The third fastest overall went to Ellen Flewitt U21 (F) in 15:36.71. Again, for the top 3 places this some some incredibly tight racing.
What a weekend this was! A huge shout out to the marshals, medics and organisers for putting on such an incredible race. A big thanks to Martin the owner of One Giant Leap it was great seeing him about all weekend.
You can find the full results here.
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