“Ok, this is how it’s going to be, if the students beat the teachers…” With those 14 words, Murray Bothma had created a race within a race – the teachers and parent team versus the students. Two and half thousand riders had gathered at Sparrow hill just outside of Canberra for a 24 hour Mountain Bike Endurance race.
Setting up camp on Friday afternoon there was plenty of anticipation about what the race would be like, how it would start, and what order our teams would ride in. With last minute maintenance complete we headed down the starting line to watch the race get under way. The race started with a 600 metre uphill sprint to collect your bike, before heading out on to the 19 kilometres of fire road and single track trails. The racing was very close with the teachers opening a small gap in the first 5 hours and as we headed into the darkness and the head lights were switched on, the teachers were confident they could hold their lead. Racing through the night was an exciting challenge. It was terrific to see the way the team of students worked together to make sure the next rider was waiting at the transition zone for the passing of the baton before heading off to their tents for a well earned but short rest before they set out again 4 hours later.
Just before dawn, the students were lapped, but never did they give up. They continued to produce consistent lap times. Murray Sullivan and Mr Bannister had the pleasure (I’m not sure if that is the right word!) of being on the track as the sun rose and the lights got switched off and we entered the last 5 hours of racing. Throughout the night a few riders involuntarily dismounted as fatigue and the crumbling trail took its toll, but thankfully there were no serious injuries and only a good story to tell about where, when and how it happened.
The 24 hours of racing was fun, but the whole weekend was a wonderful experience. The twelve riders and 5 support crew were exhausted but all agreed that it was a great experience. The riders would like to thank Mrs Post, Mr Sullivan and Mr Mackay for their help in organising food and equipment before and during the race.
With the 2010 race now past, we’re hoping to enter more teams in 2011. And who knows, may be the students will strike back and beat the teachers!