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Open Cycling’s Coast 2 Coast in a day

Over 450 riders complete Open Cycling’s Coast 2 Coast in a day epic 150 mile sportive

Written by Fi Wilson   Photos:  Stuart Holmes

Coat to Coast in a Day

On Saturday 29th June, 472 riders set off from Seascale on the far Western edge of the Lake District for the epic 150 Coast 2 Coast in a day sportive, organised by Open Cycling. The event finished at Whitby, with the fastest riders coming in under 9 hours. One rider described it as “beautiful and brutal in equal measure”.


Starting on the wind-blown Seascale beach, riders were wrapped up against a chilly morning as they set off between 5 and 8 am. But soon the clusters of riders had warmed up as they crossed the mountainous Western Lake District, taking in Wrynose and Hardknott passes before dropping down to cross Windermere by ferry. By now, most had stripped off their windproofs and donned sunglasses, and the streams of riders were a fantastic sight for the tourists and dog walkers as they  poured through the outskirts of the village in their brightly coloured jerseys, advertising local bike shops, charities or their favourite pro team.


At the first feed station in Kendal, the sun was out and the groups of friends, both elite riders and novices alike, were enjoying the delicious food laid on by Open Cycling. “These snacks are great – there’s allsorts here, from porkpies to carrot cake”, gasped one rider raising money for a Leukaemia charity, “but I can’t stay here and eat all day. We’re only 40 miles in!”


After the first long and hilly leg, feed stations came thick and fast, all within 25-35 miles. This broke the long distance up for the riders and gave them something to focus on. In many cases, riders were met by family and friends, who had skirted around the clearly marked route and made their way via some less undulating A-roads to the stops to cheer on their loved ones. “It keeps you going”, admitted a member of the Back to Back Coast to Coasters, whose supporters were out in force, (and had been the previous day too, as this group were doing the cross twice in two days to raise money for Help for Heroes).


As the heat of the sunny June day was beginning to cool, most of the riders were making their way over the beautiful Yorkshire Moors towards Whitby. Those who thought they’d left the hills behind them in the Lakes were surprised by some ‘cheeky’ climbs late on. “Your legs are so tired, but you have to keep pushing on because you can almost smell the fish and chips in Whitby!” explained Barbara Lonsdale, the fastest female rider on the day.


A fantastic crowd of supporters and locals had congregated on the green at the top of the beautiful Victorian seaside town of Whitby, near the famous whale bones and monument to Captain Cook. Every rider streaming past the clapping crowds was greeted by Open Cycling director, James Thurlow, who hung a well-earned medal around their necks and congratulated them for their epic achievement.


By sunset, only 25 riders remained on the course, including Tracey Tickner, who had been roped into tackling the challenge by her partner, who then had to pull out. Not one to be defeated, Tracey battled onwards, on her hefty hybrid town bike, completing the distance in just short of 19 hours. “An incredible achievement”, admitted volunteer marshal Tom Needham. “Totally inspirational”.


The Coast 2 Coast crossing is a classic challenge for any road cyclist, and by providing transfers from and back to Penrith, plus camping, well-stocked feed stations and easy to follow signage, the Open Cycling Coast 2 Coast is an easy way of taking on the challenge. All you have to do is pedal! Entries for 2014 open on 1st October (

Highlander Mountain Marathon Report

highlanderThis past weekend saw the Highlander Mountain Marathon take to the hills for the eighth year and much further south than it normally ventures. Based in the area around Creag Meagaidh, near Laggan, the 400 competitors in the 5 classes had full Scottish conditions to contend with.


Saturday saw wall to wall sunshine for most of the day, making the navigation a bit easier, but the deep snow covering many of the tops and gullies added plenty of hardship. With a midway camp nestled up a remote glen, the competitors carried all their kit for the 2 days, including all overnight camping equipment, over the mountains for anything between 4 and 10 hours.


Shane Ohly and Jim Mann were fastest on the day for the A course, going into day 2 with a 20 minute lead.   Gary Tompsett and Gavin Miles, past winners of the A class, were 35 points clear in the score class after 7 hours of running over the mountains.

Elsewhere, the D class was hotly contested with the top 3 teams all within 3 minutes of each other. A chasing start on Sunday morning was going to be a close run affair for these teams. Who would hold their nerve?


As runners finished beneath the giant Haglöfs arch, and bagged the dry spots to pitch their minimalist tents, eyes turned to the hills to wait for the last of the competitors to come in safe and sound.  Meanwhile finishers were enjoying their well earned hot cup of tea and hearty meal before the bar opened and they could start on the beers whilst enjoying the Ceilidh band! Yes, there really is a beer tent with full Scottish Ceilidh (including Ceilidh dancing) at the Highlander MM overnight camp.


The marquee was buzzing with chat from the day, discussing routes with friends both old and new, chatting about which beer to try next, enjoying being in the warm and not hunkered down in a tent, (that’s not big enough for either racer, let alone 2 of you), and getting set to dance to some of the ceilidh music from the live band.  Some people were overheard wishing every Mountain Marathon was like this.


Come 6am Sunday morning, as competitors awoke to ‘Insomnia’ blaring out of the speaker system, the sun had been replaced by the rain, and a steady drizzle came down all morning.  Runners set off from 7am, fuelled by their hot breakfast, and spurred on by the thought of dry clothes at the finish line.


The chasing start began at 7:30am, and then there was almost a mass start at 8:30am as the Leaders in all classes grabbed their control descriptions, marked up their maps and ran away to the hills past the avenue of Haglöfs’ bright flutter flags and into the gloomy looking mountains.


In true Scottish style, the competitors got all four seasons on day 2 with wind, rain, snow, sun, and repeat! With the chase on for some teams, it was going to be interesting to see who would come down off the mountains first.


Shane and Jim weren’t caught and took top honours in the A Class in an overall time of 9 hrs 08:24 to take home the coveted Highlander sword for the year. On course D it as a very close finish, the top 5 teams all finished within 6 minutes of each other, with the Female pair of Cat Sutherland and Kim Hallam taking the honours in 8 hrs 43:23 after lying in 2nd overnight.


Gary Tompsett and Gavin Miles extended their lead in the score class with a total of 780 points, Magnus Andersson and Fredrik Hedin had 2 solids days, winning both to take overall first place in the B class in a time of 9 hrs 25:04 , whilst  Jacques Penderis and Jo Armstrong took both individual days to win the C class overall by 50 minutes in an overall time of 8hrs 33:08.


It had been 2 great days of Scottish weather and conditions for the Highlander Mountain Marathon. Some 400 competitors had braved it all, finishing wet, tired, cold footed and sunburnt. But they had all loved it.


We hope to everyone back again next year to keep the spirit of the Highlander alive, the ceilidh music going and the beer flowing.


Durty Events have brought back ‘The HEB’

The HEBRIDEAN CHALLENGE (The Heb) is back in 2013. One of Britains iconic adventure races returns with ‘Durty Events’ (the winner of the ‘Triathlon of the Year 2012’) organising the race. Gary Tompsett an experienced adventure racer and planner will be in charge of putting together this challenging course set in the Hebridean Islands.
This unique race is for teams of 3 or Solos. Each night, the race will stop overnight in one of the island communities. The event will be held from 5-7 September. Further details