International enduro specialist Ian Leitch set the pace at the Gorrick Gore 100 Challenge, finishing his seven 10-mile laps in just under five-and-a-half hours. But with over 600 competitors, the event at Swinley Forest saw plenty of exciting racing in all categories.
Seven-lap (100km) race
Leitch, full of confidence after returning from an American 24-hour event with the scalp of the legendary Tinker Juarez tucked under his belt, looked as if he was playing out a scene from the Pied Piper as he danced on his pedals leading out 86 fellow seven-lappers at a chilly 8.30am start.
He quickly opened up a gap on his first lap and spent the next six steadily increasing his advantage. He told us later: “That was a lovely ride, really enjoyable course, it was so much fun!”
Ian Longville left enough in the tank to finish in a flourish just 10 minutes down, while team-mates Phil Moore and Gareth Jones finished within two seconds of each other, with Moore just edging ahead to claim his third place trophy.
In the women’s seven-lap race, Lorraine Staley took early command but started to falter. Evenly paced Viv Hazleton moved into prime position after three testing laps and went on to finish in 7hr 21min. She told us: “Last year this event took me 8hr 33min so this is a quicker course! Thank goodness – I might still be out there now otherwise.”
Ian Leitch led the men’s seven-lap race at Swinley Forest from the start
The five-lap men’s race was a cat-and-mouse affair between Dave Collins and Billy Jo Whenman. For four laps they worked tirelessly together until the final lap when Collins made his move. He finished in 3hr 34min, having opened up a 1min 30sec advantage.
Irene Lachner, fresh from a visit to a Danish adventure race which, due to an early stage crash, she had to sit out, let rip on the Swinley course, racking up her five laps in just under five hours – the only woman to achieve that.
Dave Collins and Billy Jo Whenman play cat-and-mouse
There was another close run-in for the four-lap men’s event, with Andy Plewes quickly stamping his authority on the event but Paul Davies keen to reel him in. Plewes proved the faster with four consistent laps, and Davies had to settle for second, just over 1min 30sec later.
Kaye Patton consistently churned out her four laps to finish comfortably ahead of nine challengers in the women’s race, with a time of 3hr 38 min.
Kaye Patton was first finisher in the women’s race
Gorrick regular Nick Onslow took charge early on in his three-lap challenge, recording the fastest time of 2hr 10min, over three minutes ahead of Ollie Taylor.
Sarah Collins looked to all intents and purposes like being the fastest woman. However fate had other ideas, and on lap three, with just a handful of miles left, she punctured and then broke a spoke. Sara Randle was the benefactor, completing her race in just under three hours, while Collins had to console herself with clinging onto second.
Randle said: “[It was a] fantastic challenge, just a brilliant course, a bit of everything. Really steep climbs to test us, but followed by blinding downhill rewards that were so worth it! If you want the definition of swoop come to Swinley. It’s unbelievable fun!”
Nick Onslow took charge early on in the three-lap race
After 1hr 25min Ben Thomas, using the two-lap challenge as an extension to his training, claimed the fastest time in his event, with Natasha Litherland clearing her two laps in under two hours to complete the tally of fastest times.
Natasha Litherland did two laps in under two hours