We’ve just heard, along with many, many other cyclocross fans from the official Three Peaks Cyclocross social accounts that John Rawnsley, the creator and organiser of the Three Peaks Cyclocross Race passed away on Christmas Day.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that there aren’t any other race organisers that have the pedigree that John had. John Rawnsley, barely out of school, organised the first race, back in 1961. He won that first race and went on to compete in 45 races in all, while organising the first 50 events. Eventually he handed over the reins to Mark Richmond and his team, confident that they would continue the legacy that he started.
John Rawnsley was still on hand to give advice and was still the person who vetted the not-at-all-random lottery of riders eager to enter this legendary race and he would be seen regularly at many other events around the north during cyclocross season. Many riders have stories about John – whether it was sage advice, race organising guidance, or just a trackside chat with a softly spoken, considered gentleman with a lifelong love of cycle sport.
John managed the growth of the event, from a ‘You had to know someone’ collection of ultra keen cyclocross pioneers in the sixties, seventies and eighties, into the smallest-feeling, biggest cyclocross race in the UK. It’s hard to balance having an internationally renowned event with a waiting list for entries (even back in the nineties) and still have it feel like a village fete. Had the race originated in America, there’d be Jeep logos and energy drinks everywhere, with merchandise stalls and VIP cordons. Instead, there’s always just been a pub and some burgers – and a vicious race course. And that’s why it’s entered the realms of cycling lore.
Again, it’s no boast to say that we’re unlikely to see his like again. Competitor, race organiser, master planner. If you think you’re in the running, get in touch after you’ve just completed the 45th running of your own race… It’s just not going to happen. A true legend has left us.
Here’s the post from the 3Peakscyclocross Instagram. RIP John, your gentle calm will be missed at cyclocross races everywhere.
For more details of this epic race, head to: 3peakscyclocross.org.uk