Penrith Merida MTB Marathon and sportive report

Sun shines on the road and mountain in Cumbria

The Merida MTB Marathon Series 2008 came to an end this weekend in Penrith, Cumbria. Nearly 1100 riders travelled to the Lowther Deer Park for the last two events, where they enjoyed a rare glimpse of sunshine.

Almost 200 road enthusiasts turned up for the final round of the Gore Bike Wear Road Sportive, which offered one of the most challenging rides of the season. The route took riders through the LyvennetValley, before crossing the moorlands around Shap and leading them across the EdenValley.

One of the day’s biggest challenges was the steep ascent of Strawberry Hill before riders returned to the event village for a hard-earned cup of tea. The first rider over the line completed the 40-mile course in three hours and 18 minutes, while the last finished in eight hours and 48 minutes.

After Saturday’s road event, it was the mountain bikers’ turn. Over 800 of them picked up on the promising weather forecast and made their way to Penrith, where standing water and warm sunshine made for a muddy but enjoyable race. The challenging 27km course was conquered in an impressive time of one hour and 27 minutes, while the long course was closed after a riding time of seven hours and nine minutes.

Merida Marathon photographers were out on the valleys and hills taking pictures on both days. Go to the photographers' website for photos to view or buy.

Plans for the 2009 series are underway and will be announced in the next few weeks. For more details, go to the organiser’s website.

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